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NHL: Media will be back in NHL locker rooms this season

Trevor Zegras didn’t know things had ever happened otherwise.

The one who has never hesitated to grant an interview made his debut for the Anaheim Ducks in February 2021, while the NHL was navigating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this shortened season, all interviews and media availability took place by videoconference, one of the many protocols instituted by the Bettman circuit in order to keep the virus at bay and the players healthy.

The NHL moved to press conferences for most of the 2021-22 season, but locker rooms, open to reporters before the league ceased operations in March 2020 due to the pandemic, remained closed to media access. .

Now that the league hopes to have a normal season without interruption, reporters and TV cameras will once again be allowed in front of players’ lockers after practices and fixtures.

Zegras had no idea that what will be customary in the Future was once the norm.

“To be honest, I had no idea it was happening like that,” said the 21-year-old skater with a smile. I thought the players always went to the conference room.”

“It will be a nice change.”

Several of the NHL’s stars shared their thoughts on the reopening of locker rooms to the media during the joint NHL/NHLPA tour last week in suburban Las Vegas. Some were happy to find the old formula.

“It’s great,” Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele said. I like talking to people face to face.”

“It used to be that guys would give interviews on the stationary bike, in front of their lockers, surrounded by reporters,” said Mathew Barzal, of the New York Islanders. It felt very personal and gave more in-depth stuff.”

Some others were less so.

“I had no problem with those conference rooms,” Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk said.

“I won’t be able to fool around so much anymore,” joked Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger, who, like Zegras, never lived through that era.

“You might have to dodge some ribbon balls,” he added.

NHL rules state that locker rooms must be open to the media five minutes after the first player leaves the ice at the conclusion of a practice session. The rule is essentially the same after the matches.

“There is nothing preventing journalists from meeting in the locker room in our protocols for the next season,” said assistant commissioner Bill Daly. We want to return to the rules in place before the pandemic.”

The NFL and MLB have also reopened their locker rooms to reporters this season. The NBA’s media policy for the 2022-23 season has not yet been released, but a league spokesperson said in an email to The Canadian Press “it’s safe to assume the locker room will be again open to the media.

Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews sarcastically dropped that he was eager to get back to untying his skates as cameramen struggle to find the best position.

” There is nothing better.”

Chicago Blackhawks winger Max Domi, who spent two seasons in Montreal, can’t wait to see the media again.

“It’s much better,” he said. I’m sure, no offense, that many players don’t agree with me. But if you want an interview with someone, it’s better to do it face to face.”

“It becomes more friendly when you find these people in the locker room every day.”

He added that journalists possibly get their best stories away from reflectors.

“When there’s no camera, it’s the best time to talk to a hockey player.”

Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk admitted there should be an adjustment period after 30 months under the new protocols.

“As soon as you step out of the rink, there will be people around your locker. It will be different, but it will be nice to get those relationships back. ”

“You sometimes miss these relationships, but when things are not going so well (for you), it’s good not to have (the journalists) in your face.”

 

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