There is a general rule in the world of live sports television: Don’t ask for an interview with a player who just made a terrible play on the ice.
Chances are, the request will be immediately shot down – either by the team’s PR staff or the player himself. I’ve had to make a lot of last-minute switches over the years, as would-be guests committed penalties and turnovers in the moments leading up to our interview.
So on Tuesday night in Calgary, I was thinking I might be in one of those situations. After Daniel Alfredsson scored to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead, I asked Sens PR man Brian Morris if the captain would join me in the second intermission.
But just before Alfredsson was scheduled to join me, disaster struck on the ice. After a botched play by Craig Anderson behind the goal, Daniel Alfredsson ended up putting the puck into his own net. At first it looked like the Flames player had scored, but multiple replays confirmed that Alfredsson had indeed just scored into his own net.
In my ear piece, my producer Paul Gris asked me if we should change up our guest. “Maybe we should avoid Alfie,” he told me.
I was starting to think about alternate guests. Maybe Chris Phillips, who was on the ice when that own-goal happened. Or maybe Zack Smith, whose family was in the seats in Calgary.
But I figured I would ask Brian Morris if we could stick with Alfredsson. I honestly wouldn’t have kept that request with any other player on the Sens roster. Alfredsson, however, is just a different guy; somebody who never ducks from a difficult question, no matter what the circumstance.
So as the Sens filed off the ice, Brian Morris stopped Alfredsson and asked him to do the interview.
Without hesitation, Alfredsson agreed to do it. He then looked at me and said, “Ian – I put that one in my own net.”
He almost had a half-smile of disbelief on his face. The fact that he brought it up to me 15 seconds before we went on air gave me the green light to ask him about the own-goal.
And so when Jeff Marek sent it to me, I said something along the lines of “Daniel Alfredsson has both goals in this hockey game…but unfortunately, one of them went in his own net.”
I didn’t get an icy stare in return, because Alfredsson had already defused the situation by bringing it up with me before we went on camera. So instead, it was the typical Alfredsson. He was engaging and more than willing to admit his error.
He thoroughly explained the play in detail and didn’t give me one of those five-second answers that occur when a guest is upset with the line of questioning.
I had a few people tweet at me after the interview, wondering how I could possibly ask Alfredsson about scoring into his own net. But when you have a chance to be around Alfredsson and understand what he’s really like, you realize that you can pretty much ask him about anything and you will get a gracious answer in return.
At the end of the night, after the Sens had won the game 3-1, I went up to Alfredsson and thanked him for doing the interview under those circumstances.
I told him that not many players would have agreed to speak on live television after scoring into their own net.
“Hey, I’m just happy to find the back of the net any way I can.”