So it seems there's a leak in the boat somewhere.
USA Hockey -- like every other big-time sports organization you can think of -- has a media mailing list, to which they distribute press releases and call-in information for conference calls and whatnot for the media.It's an unspoken rule that if you're on a list like this, you don't distribute call information to people who aren't also legitimate media. Like, don't go tweeting it so anybody can get into the call, for example.
Somehow, that info for Tuesday's conference call featuring 2016 USA World Cup head coach John Tortorella got out -- whether somebody on the mailing list gave the info to the wrong people or something else happened, who knows. And after Tortorella and USA World Cup general manager Dean Lombardi said a few opening remarks to open the call, things opened up for questions.
And ... this is how you get three prank questions that derail what's supposed to be a serious call. Listen in via Puck Daddy. Here's the transcript:
THE MODERATOR NAMED JENNIFER: The first question comes from Gil Johnson of Slapshot.org.
'GIL JOHNSON': Hi. Coach? Yes, um. I heard you say earlier about the whole family tree thing. That was funny. Um. Real quick. You're momma's so bald even a wig wouldn't help her. You hear that one?
USA HOCKEY PR MAN DAVE FISCHER: Pardon me? Uhh, Jennifer let's go to the next question.
'GJ': Hey puck you!
JENNIFER: Thank you. Our next question comes from Blake Thomas with the Mankato Free Press.
'BLAKE THOMAS': I just wanted to ask, coach, what your favorite dolphin movie was.
JOHN TORTORELLA: I didn't hear the question, I'm sorry.
FISCHER: Let's go to the next one. Jennifer. Jennifer. Jennifer, let's go to the next one.
JENNIFER: Yes, sir. Our next question comes from Mike Wilson with the New American Gazette.
'MIKE WILSON': Hi coach. When it comes to high sticking, which player on the team do you think wears the biggest jock strap?
FISCHER (sounding exhausted): Jennifer, let's ...
JENNIFER: "Thank you. Our next question comes from Tim Simmons of the Hockey Gazette.
FISCHER: Jennifer. Let's go to the next one, Jennifer.
To be clear, this just ... doesn't happen. I've been on a ton of these calls in my career and I can't remember this happening once. It's usually a pretty fool-proof system, and of all things, a USA Hockey call is the one that gets pranked?
Anyway, the next question came from former Flyers writer Steve Whyno, who works now for the Canadian Press. And the fifth question was supposed to come from .... me. Until USA Hockey got a little trigger happy, as you might be able to understand.
JENNIFER: "The next question comes from Tra..."
FISCHER: "Let's go to the next one Jennifer."
OH COME ON— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) September 22, 2015
i had a question and they thought i was a prank caller and they skipped me WHAT THE HELL— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) September 22, 2015
Fischer didn't mean any harm by it ... he was simply trying to regain control of a conference call that, to that point, was basically an episode of South Park. I'm sure if he heard my full name, or if he heard the words "SB Nation" he probably would have let me through. I mean, I've met the guy. I hope he knows me! Nothing personal.
It was funny -- at least to everybody but Dave Fischer. It was probably one of the more interesting days Jennifer has had at work in some time. And ultimately, thanks to the #AskUSAH hashtag on Twitter and Fischer -- who's a stand-up pro that apologized on the call for the mishap -- my question did get answered.
Both Tortorella and Lombardi gave decent enough responses, too -- ultimately saying they expect their players to play as hard as they would in an NHL game, because players good enough to play in a tournament like the World Cup aren't guys who know how to hold back. I was hoping that they would speak to it from the perspective of how they'd tell concerned NHL team owners to buzz off, but ... well, that's wishful thinking, even with Torts on the line.