In case you missed it, the mainstream media took yet another shot at Flyers' Captain Mike Richards today. For those familiar with the Flyers, this is nothing new. There has been an on-again off-again feud going since last year, most recently peaking with Richards' refusing to speak to the media for a month.
Tim Panaccio, Sam Carchidi and Anthony SanFilippo have all written stories on the subject so far (and Ben Feldman already put up a fanshot of SanFilippo's article), and my bias is shining through: I much prefer how SanFilippo wrote about it.
In SanFilippo's article, he not only wrote the transcript of the exchange, but he specified which source was asking the questions. And by source, I don't mean author. Omitting the names of those involved may anger some of you, but it shows class. Besides, it's not hard to figure out who's who.
After the jump, what happened and my take.
So, Mike Richards did an interview with The Hockey News apparently six weeks ago - according to Richards - which was in the January 25th issue. In the interview, Richards said:
"It's Philadelphia - when you're winning there are no problems in the world and you can pretty much do whatever you want. When you start losing, rumors start flying and people seem to just make things up to take a negative spin on things.
"That's happened so many times this year already. In the first part of the year, nothing was going on, but all of a sudden when we're losing, the media starts throwing us under the bus and bringing up things from the past that aren't true. We have a great start and nobody's saying these things, but we go on a little bit of a skid and everybody's all over us.
"You deal with things in your own way. But I love playing in Philadelphia and wouldn't want to play anywhere else."
Again, some may find this controversial and petty. There certainly are some things here that Richards probably wishes he didn't say, but the whole point of this quote is nothing new. Jimmy Rollins has said similar things, as has Donovan McNabb and Eric Lindros, and any number of athletes who have played in this city would certainly agree.
But Sam Carchidi reads this and sees a story. He reads this quote and decides he hasn't gotten his quota of Richards bashing for the year in, so he confronts the team Captain. Per SanFilippo, here's the transcript:
INQUIRER: A story was published this weekend where you say the Philadelphia media makes stuff up. Can you address that?
RICHARDS: The articles to begin with at the beginning of the year. Things like that.
INQUIRER: Such as?
RICHARDS: The drinking articles and things like that.
INQUIRER: The drinking articles?
RICHARDS: The articles… that’s why I didn’t talk to you for a month."
INQUIRER: I did an article that said that you drank?
INQUIRER: I have no idea what you are talking about. Elaborate please?
RICHARDS: Are you allowed to write something in the paper at any time that I say we didn’t…
INQUIRER: (interrupting) I didn’t.
RICHARDS: You didn’t write an article at the beginning of the year?
INQUIRER: That said you were drinking?
RICHARDS: That we’re out too much and that you asked Lupes (Joffrey Lupul, now with Anaheim) all the questions and everything? Anthony? Weren’t there articles?
DELCO TIMES: There were articles about those events but nothing naming you specifically.
RICHARDS: They said the players were drinking too much. Richards and Carter were out all the time.
INQUIRER: He (Lupul) said that?
RICHARDS: Isn’t that what the article said?
INQUIRER: No. I think that you’re making that up.
RICHARDS: Oh, O.K.
INQUIRER: You’re making it up.
CSNPHILLY.COM: The follow up to that is, do you think there’s a problem between us and you?
RICHARDS: Um.. Probably not. I haven’t even read the (Hockey News) article. I don’t know if I was misquoted or what was said. So, I can’t elaborate on that.
DELCO TIMES: I guess the question that might clear this up is, is this something that was brought up to you by the (Hockey News) writer, or was this something you brought back up again yourself.
RICHARDS: No. I’m not sure in this instance because it was a month-and-a-half ago. But, in the texting it was like, ‘What’s it like playing in Philadelphia?’ I said, ‘The media’s tough sometimes when we’re losing, it’s good what we’re winning.’ I can’t say exactly what I said but…
INQUIRER: (interrupting) You did say in the next sentence that ‘they make stuff up.’
RICHARDS: Oh, O.K.
COURIER POST OF NJ: Do you think you’re treated unfairly by us this season?
RICHARDS: No... Thanks guys. It was a pleasure, as usual.
If SanFilippo's transcript is accurate, the truth of what happened today is fairly easy to discern. Since it's quite obvious who "DELCO TIMES", "CSNPHILLY.COM", and "INQUIRER" are, it's also no surprise that the Inquirer beat writer has titled his post "Captain Whine rips media". You stay classy, Inquirer.
Carchidi's article was written very defensively, mostly sounding like a ten-year old explaining to their mom why the new pair of jeans they just got were already ripped and stained - something out of his control happened and he just had to step in to defend a young maid's honor.
The best part was Carchidi's close:
"Personally, I'm tired of writing about his media battles and would rather be writing about his on-ice exploits. But he went national and erroneously charged the local media with being dishonest - and that strikes a nerve."
I don't buy it. If Carchidi was honestly "tired of writing about his media battles", he wouldn't a) confront the Captain, b) in front of the entire press corps, c) after a game, d) interrupt him twice, and e) then twice accuse him of the same thing that struck a nerve with you - making something up. Instead, you ask this question at practice, non-confrontationally, avoid interrupting him, and refrain from calling him a liar. Unless you want to control the story for a couple of days.
What we have here is a story that just won't die. It was reported last year that the team had a drinking problem and it hasn't gone away. When Joffrey Lupul came back into town, it was Sam Carchidi who asked him if "he thought he was traded because the Flyers wanted to break up the players who live in Center City and enjoy the night life." Not only is that a horribly stupid question, an ignoramus knows the answer is: "No. I was traded for Chris Pronger." Any devout follower of the Flyers knows the next line in that answer is also "plus, I'm severely overpaid for just how streaky of a player I am, so I was the logical choice to be moved in order to fit Pronger under the salary cap."
But Carchidi asked the question anyway, knowing it would generate some sort of buzz. When Richards has a natural reaction to freeze out this juvenile reporter, he went too far and froze the entire media. Story worsened. Now, the story comes back up because - surprise! - Sam Carchidi needs something to write about in tomorrow's paper.
In comes this Hockey News story, and Carchidi finds his filler. Nowhere in Richards' quote does it say anything about the Philly media making things up - but that's what Carchidi takes offense to and accuses Richards of saying. The only time "make things up" is in that quote is when Richards says, "rumors start flying and people seem to just make things up to take a negative spin on things." Notice "rumors" and "people", not "stories" and "media".
Instead, what Richards said was, "the media starts throwing us under the bus and bringing up things from the past that aren't true." That sounds accurate to me. Maybe not the smartest thing to say, but why does this story never die? It isn't because the players keep talking about it.
Notice how I didn't once defend Richards. That's because he certainly deserves some blame for his handling of this situation. But he didn't start this battle. By all accounts, the media and him had been getting along fine recently and Richards was showing more leadership in the locker room. Now, the story is once again whether Richards is mature enough to wear the 'C', and it's all because one writer doesn't like him.
At this point, the whole feud reeks of a personal vendetta against Mike Richards. So, my advice to Carchidi would be this: If you want to make an enemy of Mike Richards and crucify him in Philly, don't be such an ass about it.