NHL teams look to restrict blogger access in certain locker room situations

This is an issue that might only be relevant to a small segment of readers out there (likely the ones who have their own blogs), but it’s been the talk of the Virtual Hockey Town this morning so I thought it would be prudent to pass along the story.

Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski discussed the fact that the NHL might change its policies when it comes to the kind of locker room access bloggers receive. Here is an excerpt from that in-depth piece.

Credentialed bloggers usually enjoy the same access as a newspaper or radio reporter on a game night: a seat in the press box, fresh popcorn and access to the teams’ dressing rooms for postgame interviews. They cover the game, pass information to their audience, and have done so for the last several years without many incidents of unprofessional behavior, despite approaching the coverage from a fan’s perspective.

Yet several prominent NHL franchises, including the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers, have strict “no blogger” policies in their arenas. They don’t see them as working journalists, and they certainly don’t see a need for them to have access to cramped locker rooms after the game.

On Monday, these teams emphatically voiced those concerns during an annual preseason conference call between NHL executives and team media-relations directors. Their issue: If my team doesn’t credential bloggers in its home arena, why should bloggers haves access to my team’s locker room on the road?

In essence, these teams wish to see bloggers become a second-class citizenry in the press box: Given a ‘B-grade’ credential that allows them on press row and in the home-team dressing room, but prohibits them from interacting with players from the visiting team if that team has a policy against alt-media access.

Again, I know for most of you, this issue comes down to “pulling back the curtain” or navel gazing. Feel free to scroll down from this article if means nothing to you.

Moving on, earning credentials – and thus dealing with NHL teams – has been a big issue for hockey bloggers as they’ve grown in prominence over the last few years.

On one hand, many teams might be justified in giving a prominent blogger access because of the increase in publicity that could come with it. This is especially justified with teams who lack a palpable buzz (like the New York Islanders and their “Blog Box” concept) or a standard major newspaper beat writer. One of the reasons hockey blogs are successful is because they fill a need that isn’t being met thanks to struggling print operations.

That being said, NHL teams cannot be totally guilty when they give a pause. As Wyshysnki wrote, it’s true that the “no accountability” talk is going by the wayside as big blogs are being tied to corporate entities more and more, but there certainly is more mystery with bloggers. After all, with a beat reporter, you can call upon his or her editor to bring the hammer down. Blogs often range in professional aims so wildly that it’s often difficult to identify the chain of command.

(Not to mention the fact that many bloggers bring a sardonic, satirical approach to hockey that understandably makes some teams nervous.)

There isn’t really a “one size fits all” answer to this issue, which is why the NHL allowed case-by-case decisions of access. It’s a shame that some NHL teams are so adamant when it comes to restricting bloggers, but ultimately its their right to choose who can and cannot gain access to their players and other employees.

Still, blogs aren’t going to disappear even if their access is restricted, especially since “blog” is such a vague term that could describe any number of endeavors. Naturally, I’m in favor of bloggers gaining as much access as possible, but that doesn’t mean I think the league is crazy for being reluctant to allow more than their comfortable with. It will take time for bloggers to become a part of the “mainstream” and I, for one, think that isn’t strictly a bad thing.

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    Modano, Ciccarelli, Roenick and Savard highlight Minnesota-Chicago alumni rosters

    Mike Modano
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    There’ll be no shortage of star power on display on Feb. 20, when alumni from the Wild, Blackhawks and North Stars do battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

    On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the Stadium Series outdoor game — one day prior to the tilt between Chicago and Minnesota, a slew of ex-NHLers will compete for bragging rights, including Mike Modano, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard, to name a few.

    The full rosters:

    North Stars/Wild

    Fred Barrett, Don Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Brad Bombardir, Neal Broten, Andrew Brunette, Jack Carlson, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Curt Giles, Craig Hartsburg, Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen, Reed Larson, Dennis Maruk, Brad Maxwell, Giles Meloche, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Steve Payne, Willi Plett, Gordie Roberts, Brian Rolston, Bobby Smith, Wes Walz, Tom Younghans.


    Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Denis Cyr, Eric Daze, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Jerry Korab, Cliff Koroll, Dave Mackey, Peter Marsh, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Russell, Denis Savard, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite.

    The North Stars/Wild will be coached by Lou Nanne, Mike Ramsey and Tom Reid. Tony Esposito and Pat Foley will man the Blackhawks bench.

    Veteran NHLer Moss signs in Swiss league

    David Moss
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    Another journeyman has been forced to find work overseas.

    David Moss, who had four goals as 12 points in 60 games for Arizona last season, has signed with EHC Biel of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Tuesday.

    Moss, 33, is a veteran of over 500 games, split between the Coyotes and Calgary Flames. He nearly landed in Switzerland last season, reportedly agreeing to a deal before utilizing his one-week out clause to catch on in Arizona.

    After playing out his one-year, $800K deal, Moss failed to land a contract in free agency and eventually signed a PTO with Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.


    Chara isn’t satisfied with Bruins’ recent success

    Zdeno Chara
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    The Boston Bruins didn’t get off to a great start in October or November, but in both instances, they were able to turn things around in the back half of the month.

    Right now, everything seems to be going right for Boston, but if you think they’re satisfied with their current five-game winning streak, guess again.

    “We did some things well, and we did some things that we need to improve, keep working on and keep getting better,” captain Zdeno Chara told CSN New England. “ It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points. But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

    A big reason for their success comes from their improvement on special teams, specifically on the penalty kill.

    Boston still has the 27th ranked penalty killing unit in the league, but they’ve killed 15 of their opposition’s last 16 power plays during their recent winning streak.

    They’re power play is clicking at a mind-boggling 32.5 percent, which is tops in the NHL this season.

    The Bruins will get their first crack at former GM Peter Chiarelli’s new team when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

    Does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    John Tortorella

    Interesting note from the Dispatch this morning regarding Monday’s Blue Jackets practice, in which head coach John Tortorella put his players through some rigorous skating drills.

    Especially interesting, given what Scott Hartnell had to say.

    “You can tell by the way we practiced today that [Tortorella] wants us in better shape so we’re not fading at the end of games,” he explained.

    Fitness, or lack thereof, has been a recurring issue in Columbus this season.

    In late October, Tortorella called out All-Star center Ryan Johansen for being out of shape — coincidentally, Johansen was “singled out” for extra skating on Monday — and, in a recent conversation with NHL.com, Torts again brought up the team’s conditioning problems.

    “I think it’s a team with a number of different mental and physical bad habits that we’re trying to turn into good habits to where it becomes an instinct, but we’re a ways away,” he explained. “These are mental habits that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

    “It’s a pretty young team, and quite honestly it’s about what it is to be a pro and doing the little things.”

    So, does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    It’s hard to say.

    Back in October, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Dispatch all players passed their training camp conditioning tests and, when asked, said “I don’t think anybody can say we’re out of shape.”

    But it stands to reason one of Kekalainen’s objectives in making the coaching change from Todd Richards to Tortorella was to light a fire under the team, and get them back to playing “Blue Jackets hockey” — the hard-working, hustle-filled style with a decided lunch bucket approach.

    And in order to play that brand of hockey, the team has to be in shape.