Friday, April 22, 2005


Media on Ice-Helene Elliott

Today's guest from the LA Times , Helene Elliott. Helene is a fantastic writer and one I have admired for years for her ability to get a "scoop." She has an absolute passion for the sport and a unique way of capturing the psychology of the NHL player. She also doesn't forget that this sport is entertainment and it is supposed to be fun....we can all learn a ton from Helene.

PE: So how did you get started covering hockey?
HE: I always wanted to cover hockey, and was lucky enough to get into this business at a time women were being more accepted as sportswriters. I enjoy the people_the players have always been more down-to-earth than the athletes in any sport, and they've always been accessible and good interviews. The more the money that has come into the sport, the more that has changed, but hockey players are still the must human of athletes.

PE: What is the the most frustrating aspect of covering the lockout?
HE:The biggest frustration in covering the lockout has been the slow pace of the negotiations, when there were any negotiations at all, and the sheer stupidity of this whole thing. None of us in this business became sportswriters to cover labor issues. I hate writing labor stories and I'm sure most readers hate reading them. There is one huge difference in covering this lockout than the one 10 years ago: with the prevalence of the Internet, news travels much faster now. But so do bad rumors. It's sometimes difficult to sift through it all. The key is to find sources who prove to be reliable and knowledgeable.

PE: Have the NHL and the union been honest with the press?
HE: Uh, no. Each wants to win the public to its side and is certainly not going to give out information that might damage its image. It's our job to get beyond the rhetoric from each side.

PE: How have your job responsibilities changed?
HE: My job responsibilities have changed quite a bit. Instead of covering hockey in October, I covered the Yankees-Twins playoff series. And then some NFL games. And the lead-up to the Rose Bowl, and an NFL playoff game, and then the Orange Bowl. I also cover Olympic sports, and would be doing so even with hockey going on. But I've had more time to cover events I wouldn't have covered if the season were in progress, such as the US Alpine skiing championships, the world track cycling championships, and various track meets. At the baseball and NFL games, I ran into many other displaced hockey writers who had suddenly been drafted to become baseball and football writers!

PE: With all the lay-offs do you fear for your job?
HE: I don't fear for my job, and I doubt any other hockey writer is in the position of being laid off. Believe me, most sports departments have shrunk through attrition or previous layoffs and are so shorthanded that having a hockey writer suddenly available is a blessing to the editors.

PE: Do you want to continue covering hockey when it resumes?
HE: I want to cover hockey when it resumes, but I fear it will have a much-reduced status in our paper and in a lot of other papers. And I'll cover the Turin Olympics whether the NHL is playing or not and whether NHL players are in it or not.

PE: When this is over do you feel your relationships with both sides will be strained?
HE: I don't think my relationship with the players or owners will be strained. I've had contact with players and owners (separately) through all this. I think players realize that those of us who cover hockey must really love it do continue covering it, because it ranks so low in the priorities of so many sports editors. I think (and hope) they know that we often have to fight for space in the paper, but we do it because we know there are many good stories out there.

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