Publishing rude quotes wasn't a shot below the belt
Aday that started with an asinine debate about Tomas Hertl scoring a goal managed to end with an even more ridiculous one about Joe Thornton's claim he'd celebrate a four-goal game in the buff.
That's what Thornton told a group of reporters Thursday, though his quote was more crass, juvenile and amazing. You can read it unfiltered at the whitetowel.ca, where the quote was first published, creating a firestorm centred around the unwritten rules of locker-room journalism. To be clear, what Thornton said wasn't off the record. I understand the parameters of off the record.
They don't include a player who shouts at media members in a locker-room filled with humming cameras and tape recorders, defending a teammate. And that's what Thornton was doing, choosing an outrageous comparison to show people the absurdity of the criticism directed at Hertl.
If a player doesn't want something reported, it's quite simple. Don't say it to 20 reporters and cameramen. Hundreds of players manage to pull this off every day.
Thornton injected himself into the Hertl story by interrupting a Patrick Marleau scrum, telling the questioner to "shut up."
Then Thornton let the group know what he would do if he scored four, like Hertl. His joke was off-colour, crude, involved nudity and - depending on your sense of humour - was hilarious.
For a publication that prides itself on its edge, aggressiveness and progressive coverage, reporting what Thornton said was, frankly, an easy decision. The audience demands it and it sure has more news value than the cliché quotes about the San Jose-Vancouver game being a big one.
The media's role shouldn't be player protection or to be the players' friends. The locker-room is a work space when it is open to the media. A player would have to be naive to think in 2013 what he says openly to a group of reporters wouldn't be tweeted, blogged or aired.
If there was anything shocking, it was that a silly penis joke turned into a national story, one picked up by Deadspin, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports.
If anything, that would seem to suggest The Province made the right call. Like there was ever any doubt.
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