This morning, as previously announced, General Manager Craig MacTavish and long-time Oiler Ales Hemsky made themselves available to the media.
In the article linked above, you'll see all of the speculation that was going around last night regarding the potential reason for this morning's press availability. I won't get into the suggestions again, but some feared the worst, while others guessed that it was just going to be "let's put the past behind us and commit to moving forward together to try and help the Oilers win". Turns out, the latter was correct and MacTavish basically wanted to make sure that the discussions about Hemsky's status with the team didn't carry on into the season.
Since this in itself is newsworthy, I'll share a few tweets below to give you an idea of the tone of the "We're all here to win together" comments:
Ales and Craig speaking about his situation and get things out of the way right now. Then issue is over for Oilers pic.twitter.com/0B5BW7AqlF— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) September 4, 2013
MacT" Ales has never asked to be traded. I sat down with Ales at end of year and we discussed that might be best for both sides to move on."— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) September 4, 2013
"If this team turns around Ales will have a prominent role in that turnaround." Mact on Hemsky— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) September 4, 2013
"It's important that I offer Ales the same opportunity as anyone else. It's up to every player to establish their value to the team."MacT— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) September 4, 2013
"Sometimes the best deals you make are the one's you don't make. When the team has had success Ales has been a part of it.' MacT— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) September 4, 2013
"Ales is off the market. He's got the ability to play a prominent role. I have had no trade talks regarding Ales." MacT— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) September 4, 2013
There are a few more, but I think that gives a pretty fair synopsis of the content of what the two men said this morning.
One thing you might notice about the links above...they are all from Gene Principe. "Huh, that's funny" you might be saying... "Maybe Alan's just lazy and grabbed all of the quotes from one twitter feed because it was convenient?" I won't dispute that I enjoy occasional laziness, but not when it comes to my work, which includes covering the Oilers. So needless to say I was a bit frustrated this morning when I went searching for coverage of MacT's media session before it began, only to find that neither of the the two radio properties in Edmonton that are heavily reliant on the Oilers for content (the Team 1260 and 630 Ched) were streaming the event.
I found that a bit unusual, but not overly so. Maybe they had been tipped off that no major announcement was coming, so they didn't feel the need to interrupt their scheduled programming. I can understand that. But you have to figure the team's own website, which is 100% dedicated to bringing fans as close as possible to the team they love, would of course carry live audio and/or video of MacT and Hemsky, right? Nope. Not there either.
In fact, not a single media outlet that has a local presence in Edmonton saw fit to carry the event live. I don't put the blame on the management of the team here, but it surely belongs with those associated with those operating the team's website. It seems like this was an easy opporunity to draw traffic to the site and offer your fans, who have just finished sitting through 5 years of unintelligible drivel from the last GM, have a chance to hear a confident, articulate representative of the team's front office speak about one of the team's longest serving players in advance of the season. The fact that they opted not to do so seems like a pretty obvious failure of Public Relations 101. This isn't a major earth-shattering event or anything, but there's a saying that goes "If you look after all the little things, the big things take care of themseleves" I tend to believe that is true in most cases, and this is an example of the Oilers' PR team over-looking some of the little things.
Given that we live in a day and age where news travels at unimaginable speeds and current events are only current for so long, I'm quite surprised that it took over an hour after MacT and Hemsky spoke to get the footage up on the team's official site (it can be viewed here). They have the content up now, but by the time it went up, most Oiler fans who wanted to hear it likely already knew much of what was discussed. This is a case of missing the news cycle.
Compounding matters, those in the mainstream media who actually get paid to provide coverage of the Oilers for the fans around the world seemed to largely overlook the event. With the exception of Gene Principe as noted above and Joanne Ireland of the Journal, basically no MSM people offered fans a glimpse of the GM's or player's comments.
Instead, they saw fit to offer comments rooted in years personal bias and opinion. A few examples:
Gee Craig MacTavish didn't say "I couldn't get a damn thing for the guy. What we're going to do with Ales Hemsky now, I have no earthly idea— Terry Jones (@sunterryjones) September 4, 2013
Gee, Ales Hemsky didn't say "I can't tell you how disappointed I am that Craig didn't get me out of this town."— Terry Jones (@sunterryjones) September 4, 2013
Backing off the "time to move on" scenario MacT painted for Horcoff and Hemsky not long ago tells me there was zero market for No. 83.— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) September 4, 2013
So, Hemsky is off the market, eh? Was there actually any market, as in the possibility of a decent return for him, in the last year?— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) September 4, 2013
If you ask me, our own Michael Parkatti summed up their contributions perfectly:
That didn't take long for the half-witted Edmonton sports media to take a few potshots at Hemsky. Great work, you buck futters.— Michael Parkatti (@mparkatti) September 4, 2013
This morning was not the finest hour for those covering the Edmonton Oilers. But, Ales Hemsky is back with the team for another season, so all in all, a pretty decent morning for Oiler fans who actually like watching the team ice a roster full of NHL players.
Follow Up Note: I should also point out that new lead writer for the Oilers' website Chris Wescott (@thechriswescott) did tweet out some comments as did the Oilers' twitter account itself shortly after those from Principe. I still think it was a pretty surprising oversight not to carry the event live, but I don't want to give the impression those assocaited with the team's PR group ignored it completely as that would be an unfair representation of their coverage. Wescott and the team's twitter account came through with similar coverage to that of Ireland and Principe, but the team's site itself fell well short of what it could have done.