Joe Thornton Joke Sparks Player-Media Controversy

By Bobby Brooks, Posted: 10/11/13 03:07PM EDT

A big story this week was the four goal performance by rookie sensation Tomas Hertl. Yet, it wasn't the amount of goals that left people talking the next, but the way he scored the fourth one.  With the San Jose Sharks already up 7-2, Hertl came in on net and put the goal between his legs for a highlight reel goal.  This caused some old school thinking ex-players to speak out against the so-called "hot dog" move, and media members began to ask him about it leading up to the game in Vancouver.

But that's when things got a little crazy. Joe Thornton overheard the line of questioning and interrupted the media scrum to say "shut up, have you ever played the game?".  He then joked that, ""I'd have my **** out if I scored four goals. I'd have my **** out, stroking it." 

It's not uncommon to have players making off-color comments in the locker room. It is after all a sacred place for players to be themselves. What is uncommon is that we are privy to this joke in the first place.

Why do we know about it? Because Jason Botchford of The Province decided to stick up for his media pals and throw Joe Thornton under the bus by publishing it on the newspaper blog. 

According to those in the media, the only time players are "on the record" in the locker room is when they have a microphone in front of them in a scrum or one-on-one. Anything that gets said outside of those parameters loosely qualifies as "off the record".  

This created a firestorm debate about player-media relations and whether or not these kind of comments are fair ground to be published. Some in favor are arguing that we live in different time where cameras and recording devices can be found anywhere. Greg Wyshnynski, otherwise known as Puck Daddy, said, "Realistically, he was doing his job, even if it meant breaking a reporter/athlete taboo."

Puck Daddy tried to speak out of both sides of his mouth by stating "Ethically, Botchford was wrong, given the history of these types of moments."

So which is it? As a blogger, Wyshnynski doesn't seem to share the overwhelming sentiment that this joke should not have been published. National hockey writer Pierre Lebrun said that he would not have reported the comment by Thornton, and he said it while Jason Botchford was on the air with him on TSN.  Jamie McLennan and Mike Johnson, two former players who now do analysis on TSN, also said that Botchford crossed the line. 

Jason Botchford had the following response,

"First and foremost, because I work for a publication that asks me to think , write and report with edge, and that's what I think I did today."

"The problem here for Joe is that he said the comment to about 20 reporters. I looked around, about half of them had cameras. If any of them had reported it, and I had not, I would have been called to the carpet by my boss and asked why I didn't publish one of the quotes of the year."

The issue with Botchford's reasoning is that among those "20 reporters", he was the only one to publish it. His publication, The Vancouver Province, has been in this business for decades. To say that the newspaper would have had a problem with him not publishing this joke is, well, a joke in itself. What we have here is a rogue reporter who used poor judgment. If he was acting professionally, he would have asked Joe if he could quote him on that. Clearly Thornton would have said "no". 

So where does this go from here?  My first thought is whether or not players are going to even talk to Jason Botchford after this. In fact, I'm surprised that he still has a job after that. But more importantly, what will this do to player-media relations?  Will young players be more reluctant to open up around reporters?  Will more media members feel obligated, or entitled, to publish more "off the record" comments? 

We can only hope that this was an isolated incident because at the end of the day it is the fan who would suffer. As entertaining as the quote was, it was reported in bad faith and crossed an ethical line. 

Read more:

Was Tomas Hertl's Goal Inappropriate? [VIDEO]

Dan Hamhuis Scores The Strangest Goal Of The Year (On His Own Team) [VIDEO] 

Top Five Surprise NHL Teams To Start The Season

Semyon Varlamov Leads Top Five Goalies To Watch Going Forward  

© 2017 iSports Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


New England Patriots Trading Jimmy Garoppolo to Cleveland Browns After RG3 Injury?

Jimmy Garoppolo performed well for the New England Patriots in Week 1, but his time as a starter mig... more

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas Returning Against Indianapolis Colts

The Denver Broncos may be getting a big shot in the arm if reports are true that wide receiver Demar... more

NFL Rumors: Cleveland Browns Signing Geno Smith To Replace Robert Griffin III

The Cleveland Browns find themselves in a very precarious position following the untimely injury to ... more

MLB Trade Rumors: Ryan Braun To LA Dodgers for Yasiel Puig

Imminent Blockbuster Trade seems to be a done deal for Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Brewers' Ryan Braun more

MLB Standings & Playoff Race: Why the Chicago Cubs Should Fear the LA Dodgers

The return of Dodgers' pitcher Clayton Kershaw should put a scare on the Chicago Cubs' magical seaso... more

Cleveland Cavaliers Get DeMarcus Cousins For Kevin Love, Is It A Fair Deal?

The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t need much to improve for the coming season meaning Kevin Love trade ru... more

Miami Heat Should Trade Chris Bosh, Build Around Hassan Whiteside

The likelihood of Miami Heat big man Chris Bosh of leaving the team is getting bigger, as possible t... more

WWE No Mercy 2016 Latest News: AJ Styles vs. John Cena Revived, Dean Ambrose the Odd Man Out?

AJ Styles will put the WWE heavyweight title on the line at No Mercy in a Triple Threat match which ... more

Real Time Analytics