As concern over COVID-19 increases, dressing room access has vanished.
For the foreseeable future, hockey players will be conducting interviews from behind podiums or beyond ropes — too far to sneeze on.
These safety measures are only temporary, of course, but they have served reminder of the value of the reporter’s job as conduit between players and fans.
I appreciated how Joey Votto summed up this relationship:
I asked Joey Votto about clubhouse access in general — not in this specific case — but whether he would welcome this ban on a permanent basis. This is his answer: pic.twitter.com/Pa4oGpKkSC
— (@ctrent) March 10, 2020
Thoughts from those directly involved in the emotions, agonies and thrills of our game drive our stories. These words wouldn’t be out there online for us to highlight were it not for the beat reporters who bombard the athletes, coaches and execs they cover with questions. (A hearty shoutout to all the microphone holders keeping a sanitized distance from their subjects.)
With that in mind, we present our NHL Power Rankings: That’s What He Said Edition.
As always, teams are ranked in order of current level of awesome. For each team, we’ve plucked a recent dressing room (or podium) quote that captures the mood around the club or an issue it’s facing.
“I think both of us feel we’re the best team in the Atlantic.” —Bruce Cassidy on the Bruins-Lightning rivalry.
“When you see a friend — a close friend for a lot of us — go through that, I guess without even realizing, it rallies everyone together.” —Alex Pietrangelo on Jay Bouwmeester.
“Simple answer is, ‘No.’” —Jared Bednar on if he’s ever seen a run of bad injuries like the Avalanche is enduring.
“You learn from how much it hurts, and you try and alter your behaviour to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” —Jon Cooper on avenging last spring’s sweep.
“The guy never stops smiling.” —Matt Niskanen on Oskar Lindblom.
“Adversity is something that can make you stronger, but it seems like it is taking some time to make us stronger.” —Braden Holtby.
“Sometimes you just throw it to the net and good things happen.” —Shea Theodore on scoring back-to-back game-winners.
“He knows how to handle the locker room. He knows when to get guys going. He knows when to give guys a little bit more room.” —Patrik Laine on Paul Maurice.
“Right now, we don’t have a lot of it, and we’ve got to get it back.” —Mike Sullivan on the Penguins’ confidence.
10. Edmonton Oilers
“This is as disconnected as we’ve been in a long time.” —Dave Tippett on his team collecting points in spite of itself.
“I called my parents and my girlfriend right away. Said, ‘Come on down. I got called up.'” —Morgan Geekie, overnight sensation.
12. Dallas Stars
“When you’re not scoring and you try to open it up, it usually backfires.” —Joe Pavelski, whose Stars have combined for three goals over four games.
13. Calgary Flames
“We still control our own destiny.” —Milan Lucic.
“The margin for error is as small as it can be.” —John Tavares on the hunt.
15. New York Rangers
“My phone almost burned up.” —Mika Zibanejad on his five-goal bonanza.
“I was doing everything I can to get back as fast as I could.” —Brock Boeser, back in effect.
“The thing that has separated him a lot is his rebound control has been exceptional.” —Dave Hakstol on Juuse Saros, who’s earning critical starts over Pekka Rinne.
18. Florida Panthers
“No. 1 in your programs, No. 1 in your hearts.” —Roberto Luongo, No. 1 in the rafters.
“It was a game in the mud for a lot it. We liked that game to be played that way for us.” —John Tortorella on Monday’s win in Vancouver but really any win.
20. Minnesota Wild
“These games we’ve been playing against some other teams have been very competitive and tight-checking, so it’s kind of playoff-like. We have to get used to that, because if we do get in, we’re going to be in for a battle.” —Matt Dumba.
“Ninety stitches is a lot, but the end result, 90 stitches is a lot better than losing an eye.” —Barry Trotz on Johnny Boychuk, who returned to practice after getting his face sliced open by a skate blade.
22. Arizona Coyotes
“We need some more guys to feel the whip and go at it. There’s no other choice.” —Rick Tocchet, four points out of a wild-card spot.
“Losing sucks.” —Connor Murphy.
“I’m not a great player in this league yet… not even close.” —Jack Hughes, feeling the first-overall burden.
25. Buffalo Sabres
“We’re just not finding ways to bury them, and the other team is. That’s the difference in most of the games lately.” —Jeff Skinner, who buried 40 last season and has buried 14 this season.
“They play the right way, they’re well-coached, they’ve got some good veteran leaders, and the young guys that they’ve got coming up work extremely hard.” —Colorado’s Jared Bednar on the Kings.
“I’d say Kotkaniemi hit the wall a lot earlier than Suzuki.” —Claude Julien on Montreal’s young stars, who are still future stars.
28. San Jose Sharks
“It would be kind of weird. It would be really, really quiet.” —Aaron Dell on the possibility of tending goal in an empty arena.
29. Anaheim Ducks
“They understand the points are big on the other side.” —Dallas Eakins on his players.
30. Ottawa Senators
“There’s got to be a human side to how we do our business here.” —Pierre Dorion.
“You feel sorry for yourself for a little while… then you start training and get ready for next year.” —Steve Yzerman.