Ken Rosenblatt, who writes another blog for the Islander blog box commented to me recently as we waited for Bill Guerin to arrive in the Islander locker room for a post game press conference, "Jim, I remember the last time we were here, and I saw this look on your face as sweat dripped from above you onto the floor and bench". This is why Ken does such a nice job with his blog, Islanders Outsider (http://islandersoutsider.blogspot.com/). He's damn observant. The night he was referring to, I was standing on the outskirts of a player press conference behind all of the beat writers when I noticed a gentle pat, pat sound off to my right. Its then that I realized I was standing under Richard Park's shoulder pads and hockey pants, which were trickling with sweat. I wish I could enjoy Ken's memory of seeing my face when this was happening, as I remember thinking to myself "that's probably just water from the ice".
As we sit here in the midst the all-star break weekend, I've reflected on some memories of my attendance of Islander post game press conferences throughout the first half of the season. One aspect that may be of interest to fans is the interaction of players with bloggers and beat writers, which is to say, there is none. When players like Berard, DP or Sillinger walk by me I go into "A" train mode. That is, I go out of my way to avoid eye contact. Rarely will a player ever acknowledge you. I remember one time Jon Sim (inj.) was walking around in a suit and he seemed to say hello to me and a couple of bloggers. I ignored him. I figured "he can't be talking to us, and I don't want to be an agitator."
One of the reasons I appreciate the way Chris Botta has run this program is that he is extremely hands off. They vetted us via an application process, slowly brought us into the press conference environment, and let us learn how to act in that environment by observing. It is a constant learning experience, but my fellow bloggers take their professionalism in the locker room very seriously.
I've noticed some interested characteristics of some of the players as well. For example, Witt and Sillinger are brilliant with the press. Their experience shows. They seem to know when to be reserved, and when its necessary to make a forceful statement. Very impressive. All-Star Rick DiPietro, who is also eloquent with the press, seems to give off the vibe that he would rather be somewhere else other than answering questions. Watch a few of his conferences. He winces, grimaces, slowly rubs his face and generally gives the impression that answering questions from beat writers isn't the favorite part of his job. Doesn't mean he lacks elocution, or for that matter, the ability to be an elite goaltender.
Bill Guerin is another interesting guy. I've noticed that when Bill is scoring a lot he exudes confidence in the post game q&a, and if he receives a question he doesn't like, he'll go right back at the inquirer. Conversely, when he is the midst of a scoring drought, he tends to become very thoughtful and philosophical, sometimes taking minutes at a time to answer one question.
Finally, for anyone who is wondering, I've never run into any ice girls behind the scenes, although I can assure you that is not from a lack of effort. (disclaimer to wife- I'm only kidding).
So to all you future Islander bloggers, you have sweat dropping on your head and players who will ignore you, to look forward to.
Chances are, if you're reading this blog and you're like me, you'll love every minute of it.