PITTSBURGH — Yes, there were a few curses uttered in the PPG Paints Arena media work room when Sean Couturier‘s hopeful wrister clanged off Brian Dumoulin‘s foot and past Matt Murray with little time left in Friday’s third period.
Although, the naughty words weren’t spewed for the same reason you launched your F-bombs from home. No, the Pittsburgh press corps was pissed because a Game 6 means another round trip to Philadelphia.
For those who aren’t fortunate enough to travel with the teams, that assignment also means another 12 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. That’ll be the case for our Dan Kingerski, who is covering the road games in this series while I take the ones here.
(I can’t imagine some of our subscribers want to hear a media sob story, but, hey, you wanted behind-the-scenes stuff, right?)
As for me, I actually let out a quiet chuckle at the disgusted reaction by a few of my more vocal peers. Many in this business take great pride in never rooting for teams or players, but there are definitely certain outcomes that get the media majority riled up, either positively or negatively.
Friday night was one of those, for the reasons I laid out above. Entering the game, this was guaranteed to not be the final home game of the year for the Penguins, so it’s not like anyone on press row was pulling for an early summer. Yes, as much as that might bother you, some reporters covering your team aren’t hoping for that trip to the championship round.
For those tormented souls subject to print deadlines — not me! woo! — a game like Friday’s is also pretty close to a worst-case scenario. They must write their stories during the game, as always, but also leave open a host of possibilities should there be a late turn of events. You might think overtime would be terrible, but if the game goes long enough, some newspaper reporters don’t have to worry about the deadline, so they’re off the hook.
As it turned out, Game 5’s deciding moment fell in that not-so-sweet spot where the deadline is still a factor, and there’s not much time to adjust. At least the Penguins didn’t blow a late one-goal lead and lose in the final five minutes like the Predators did Friday. That’s where you’ll see some writers highlight their entire draft and hit ‘delete.’
OK, so I escaped needing to worry about all that nonsense, but in addition to feeling sorry for Dan’s pending return trip to Philly, I was in the same boat as every other reporter and camera operator who had to hustle halfway around the arena floor to get to the Penguins’ dressing room in a timely fashion.
You see, the losing locker room usually opens to media within a couple of minutes of the final buzzer, whereas the winning team takes a little more time to savor the moment. In order to ensure I don’t get shut out of the elevators from the seventh-floor press box, I have developed the habit of migrating to the first-floor work room early in the third.
It’s not quite the same down there, watching on a TV monitor. Not only is the feed delayed, but seeing the game from up above during live action is the absolute best way to appreciate the totality of the play.
There are clearly some drawbacks to this whole sports media experience, many of which I just described. At the same time, we all have some aspects of our work environment that we don’t love. Why should this gig be any different?
I suppose the biggest difference between this job and most others is that our schedules are completely at the mercy of events we have absolutely no control over. And, no, we’re not immune to the same emotional swings you experience during these wild and wacky Stanley Cup playoff games.
Come to think of it, fans and reporters have a lot in common at times.