General managers speak to the media several times a week. They are not shadowy figures that sit in an office in the balcony level overlooking dark NHL arenas all day long, twiddling their thumbs and playing around on CapGeek.com. They are actually very public faces of the franchise, and it is their duty to answer to the media frequently.
That's why Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli called a press conference call on Tuesday evening, which apparently sent all of Boston into a frenzy.
Mok Savaaaaaad is retirin'! Da B's made a trade!
Yeah, uh.... no. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. In fact, the Bruins said nothing out of the ordinary was happening, and that this was just going to be a run-of-the-mill press availability.
You see, practice was canceled on Monday and media availability was canceled on Sunday. The Bruins were just being nice to their media friends, allowing them to speak with the GM as they usually do despite the canceled practice. A canceled practice that wasn't particualrly shocking considering the Bruins have a several day stretch without game action. Via Bruins PR:
Just to clarify- Peter Chiarelli has media availability today via conference call due to practice being canceled. Since we did not have availability on Sunday, we did not want to cancel media availability twice in 3 days. There is nothing to announce today, Peter is just available to media who wanted Bruins access today.
By then, however, the unbelievable speculation was already in full force. Just check out some of the comments that ran rampant over at HFBoards:
Krecji and Rask for a signed Parise and Hedberg
A major illness within the organization is my concern as well. I don't feel good about this. Relatively speaking, I really don't care what it is as long as it isn't that.
Starting to worry a bit that this is like when they announced Kessel's cancer diagnosis.
No trade, it is still to early and this team hasn't played awful, they have been in every game.
Savard retiring is a plausable explanation, I bet my money on that.
And my personal favorite:
This is what a friend of mine is hearing.
The cancelled practice was a team decision to let the players rest due to the fact that the injury bug is going around the dressing room. From what I'm led to believe, the conference call and the cancelled practice are completely unrelated and the Bruins will use the call to announce that they have signed Alexei Yashin to come over and play.
It's weird how literally everybody seems to have friends in high places, isn't it?
In short, people are crazy. There was literally no reason to believe that a 6 p.m. conference call with the media, announced more than 24 hours before hand, was anything of significance. There was no reason to believe that the Bruins were going to make a trade or that Marc Savard was going to retire.
Besides, why would a team announce the retirement of a player via conference call? Those types of things are usually done in person. And considering the big freak out that brought upon the trade speculation was the fact that practice was canceled in conjunction with the call, we must ask when the last time practice was completely canceled for a trade?
Maybe the Bruins were getting Gretzky or something.
In other general manager news, the Blue Jackets might not have a good one -- that's still up for debate early this season after a huge offseason overhaul. But if there's anything that can be credited to Scott Howson, it's that he's innovative when it comes to communicating with fans.
Sure, teams like Columbus have to be particularly forthcoming in what they share with the small fan base that supports them. But Howson and the Jackets' PR team does it better than any other organization in the game. Howson has a Twitter account that he actively updates himself. He only has 7,600 followers, but his spelling is certainly better than just about every player on his payroll.
More awesome, though, is his blog, and in particular, his update on Tuesday before the game against Detroit. A piece of what he had to say:
The first three weeks have been extremely difficult for all of us. The responsibility for where we are lies with me, our management staff, coaches and players. It does not lie with Brendan Shanahan or the NHL or the officials. It is not about luck. The responsibility for getting us out of it lies also with us... all of us doing it together.
Our fans have been remarkably patient with our franchise. We understand the anger and frustration that has built up over the past decade makes this about more than just the preset. All I can tell you is that we are working together to look for solutions every day.
The contrast is not lost when that's presented next to his prior post: "Opening Night. Those two words mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Excitement. Anticipation. Anxiousness. Beginning. Hope. Optimism. I am feeling all of these."
And in light of that, maybe none of it really means anything. If the Blue Jackets keep losing games, Howson will be fired, he'll lose a bunch of Twitter followers and he'll awkwardly have to drop the "GM" from his username. Nobody will care about his blog anymore, either.
But he's the only one that's doing this, and while it might not matter in the grand scheme of things, it's pretty cool to think that Howson is sitting in his office, taking time out of his day to directly communicate with the fans.
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