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“Bad Body Language” And Other Narratives

When scribes don’t get what they’re looking for, the Ales Hemsky treatment comes out

Edmonton Oilers v Phoenix Coyotes

The Oilers played three games where they did not do well on the scoreboard.

Toronto won three of three games by a combined 13-1 score. Both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl went three whole games without scoring a point. The team was predictably in a foul mood after losing their third game by a 6-1 margin.

You can imagine how the club felt while doing media after the game. Actually, you didn’t have to wonder too much if you tuned in.

Clearly, Leon’s not impressed by the question. I can’t blame him for being a little terse. The club just got their clocks cleaned by Toronto in each game over a three game series, and now’s probably not the best time for to get snarky if you’re looking for a quote. My father would say to us: “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. Anyways, so that was it. Leon was snarky to a question he didn’t like, we all laughed a little bit, and we forgot about it all. Or so, we thought that was it. Lots of local media folks didn’t really appreciate Leon’s snappy response after getting pressed about performance. Personally, I think that’s something you’ve just got to take and move on.

Prior to this interview even taking place, some folks were beginning to pick and poke at Leon Draisaitl about on-ice emotions and body language, which is ridiculous.

I mentioned earlier today that I think that a reporter has a tough job. Getting a good quote from a player that is straight up not having a good time is a somewhat daunting task, but (like anything else in life) you’ve got to have the proper mindset about it. Any time you don’t get what you want out of a question and follow up with a rebuttal that starts with “speaking of not good enough”, you’re probably not going to love what you’re going to get back. If you’re going to ride that line, you’ve got to have a thick skin for what you’re going to get in return.


Not only did a bunch of Edmonton media folks get their knickers in a twist about Leon’s response, getting the “body language” dig in there brought me back to when Ales Hemsky was a member of the Oilers. Hemsky was one of the best Oilers of the 2000s, but his character was under attack every time you read something about him. Turn around one day, and Ales Hemsky was getting hit with having bad body language, or how he was first off the ice every practice, or how he didn’t have enough grit or sandpaper or what have you. It’s like everyone forgot about how he’d go into the corners and get hammered by Robyn Regehr when the Flames were in town. Hemsky had what felt like six hundred different injuries - shoulder surgeries in back-to-back seasons, a concussion, and he still came back to give 110%.

I’m not suggesting that Leon is getting painted with the same brush just yet, but once you start attacking “body language”, “first off the ice” isn’t far away. By the time “first off the ice” hits, “lazy” is already warming up in the back. “Didn’t backcheck” and “not enough grit” followed Hemsky all the way to Ottawa when he was traded in 2014, even though it was completely and utterly false.

If the Oilers score six goals in Calgary, all of this will likely be swept under the rug. If the Flames roll the Oilers on Saturday, some other nonsensical criticism will pop out looking to hook onto “bad body langauge” and “rude media availability”.

Smart folks will realize total garbage when they hear it.