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Reporting on Penguins with a difference
Last week i shadowed a reporter from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette the paper which serves the 2.5 million people who live in and around Pittsburgh. I attended a NHL game between the Pittsburgh
Penguins and the Ottawa Senators and was totally blown away by the access media have in this all action league.
First of all each NHL team plays at least 82 games a season and each match has wall to wall coverage on TV, Radio, online and in newspapers. The fans are crazy and before arriving in Pittsburgh the two thing's i could tell you about Ice Hockey was Wayne Gretzky and that the US and Russian's are always battling it out at the Olympics. I strutted around the Mellon Arena, affectionatley known as the 'Igloo', waving my all access media pass towards any steward that stood in my way. I sat high up in the rafters with my own Television, phone and assortment of drinks and nibbles. I was then given the most remarkable pile of paper i have ever seen, showing any stat you could deem desirable and then some. The americans do love their facts and figures!! The game started and soon the Penguins flew into a 3-0 lead. But as my other trip to the 'Igloo' proved to me you can never count out a comeback. They were winning 2-0 in my first ever game back in November against the New York Rangers, only to lose 3-2.Inevitably they suffered a crushing 4-3 overtime loss, but have recently recovered to claim the league title so all was not lost. I mingled with reporters from ESPN, Fox Sports Channel and CBS and gained as much information as i could gather. The press were treated like royalty and i for one am ready to make my trips to the 'Igloo' a more regular occurence. Yet one more surprise greeted me. With 5 minutes to go Shelly, the reporter i was working with, told me to grab my things and come with her. "Where are we going?" i asked "You'll see" she said. Somewhat perplexed that we were leaving 5 minutes from the end of the game with the score at 3-3 i followed her down winding corridors and soon found myslef deep beneath the ice outside the locker room of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Wow! But it was not just our private privelage, there was a stream of journalists, cameras nd microphone's on cue ready to plough into the locker room. We were there in the room as the players returned from the ice after losing to a sickening last minute goal. Skates flew, stick flew....in fact everything flew off as they vented their frustration. All in full view of the watching media. Seconds later i was helping to interview the goalkeeper who made a huge mistake to concede the losing goal. Imagine reporters from Sky, The Times or Five Live surging into the dressing room at Old Trafford after Van Der Sar has just chucked one into the back of his own net? Would Fergie allow it, i think not! I met all of the star players and they were surprisingly open. I asked other reporters if this was the norm and they said yes and told me how the club promotes this as they like to keep connections with the media close knit in order to enhance the coverage Ice Hockey gets comaped to Basketball, Baseball and American Football. This seems logical to me but i could never see it working in the Premier League. Ohhhhhhh how i told this story time and time again to my gobsmacked teammates and friends at Uni who worship the Penguins, jealousy was aimed at me from all directions. What a day at the 'Igloo, the penguins had opened my eyes to a whole new media world.