Here are Jeremy Roenick’s comments from an interview with Rod Smith of TSN. Jeremy spoke from Sun Valley, Idaho, his summer hang-out spot:
Smith: “We are live so whatever you say-”
JR: “It was a strong statement, but it was very a strong question. Which, by the way you didn’t hear on all the promos that were played. All you saw was my response. You didn’t see the 14 minutes beforehand when I went on a rampage about how we have to make this game better for the fans. And bring them in and coddle them more, and make it easier for them to watch in the pocketbook, more exciting for them to watch on the ice, and give them more of an element to go and watch the game. We have to coddle them. But you didn’t see all that. All you saw was my negative stuff. So it’s another media ploy to get something controversial out of something that was actually started as a very, very fan-appreciative, fan-friendly
Smith : “You’ve been in these situations before and know how the media operates -”
JR: “I understand that, which is another reason why I’m here. But that doesn’t mean I can still agree with it every time it happens, and it happened again. And I’m dealing with it and I’ve been dealing with it all day. There has not been a call I have not taken or an interview I haven’t taken…to let everyone know that my whole interview was about making sure that we get a deal done. Let’s get a deal done now, soon. Who cares what it is. Who cares who wins or loses anymore. I really don’t care so much. It’s been too long. The Game’s been gone, the fans have suffered too much. Who cares who wins or loses, we need to get a game back on the ice. We need to make it more exciting for the fans. We have to make it higher scoring, maybe easier to attend the game financially. Make the fans see us more, more interviews, get them closer to the Game. We have to make this more of a fan-friendly game is what I was trying to get to. But you couldn’t understand that through all this media stuff.
And I would never, and everybody who knows me for 17 years I have worked to try and keep a fan-friendly relationship, my whole career. Sign autographs at the rink, after games, before games; I’ll wait till everybody gets one. I’ll say ‘hi’ in the street. Shaking hands, giving time to take a picture. No matter what time of the day, who I’m with, or how long it takes. The fans are the #1 most important entity in professional sports. It would go totally against my nature, totally against my nature, to tell the fans not to come and watch. I love the fans. I’m a hot dog left and right for the fans. I love it. I love throwing pucks and winking and all that stuff. In my answer, when I was very riled, and I’m sorry I get very heated, I get very animated, I’m a passionate person. But I was referring to a very, very very small percentage of people, that I’ve even encountered that have a gripe against me, against hockey players – not the hockey fan. At all. I’d never do that…and all you fans: come back, cause I love you, we love you. And we need you.”
Bolded are the key elements of the interview that cleared things up for me. Much more so than watching the two minute clip TSN offered or even I’d imagine being at that press conference and taking in the entire 14 minutes. The fact is that JR was riled up and he needed to do this clarification interview to give us a better understanding of his feelings.
I knew JR was a guy who’s stuck up for the fans in the past, but I really thought that comment was directed at some of the fans. If not, he should’ve prefaced it with “all you guys in the media who call us this, this, and this,” rather than throwing it out there and using “everyone out there…” when it’s obvious fans are listening in as well. It was a mistake in the heat of the moment. Maybe he had golfed a bad round of golf before taking the mic. That’s fine. I was going to watch hockey next season either way, but I know this comment could’ve hurt a lot of the US fan base especially, so I want to get this out there.
When I read the quotes the first time, I was more taken aback by how he had trashed Goodenow and the rest of the NHLPA for not listening to him and the smart players back in February. I really thought that was going to be the story. It followed up Jagr’s comments perfectly. I barely had noticed the possible insult of a huge block of fans until the outrage started coming in, and then I read through the quotes again and saw where it was all coming from. And it really did feel like a slap in the face for some of the fans who have a right to be upset with the players (especially February on). But I was more worried about how other people took it, because I really have had this feeling about JR all along that he wouldn’t be saying that type of thing in the literal sense. Let’s move on. Of all guys, JR deserves a pass on this one. And don’t you love his comments about getting the deal done!