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Blasts from the Past

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Davis Report
by Reyn Davis
Winnipeg Free Press

I've heard rumblings that this particular Winnipeg Jets team isn't all that cooperative with the media.

False.

Of course, I'm stating my personal experiences when I say the players and management of this team are approachable and interesting for this particular newshound.

Naturally, some are better than others. Tom Watt, for example, seems to know what the media wants. His English is good and his choice of words is colorful and his sentences are rarely couched in time-worn cliches. Undoubtedly, his experience in television commentary has given him a better understanding of what can hold the public's interest.

Watt does have a quirk, too. He doesn't like to discuss individuals, especially after a bad game. In fact, he'll often go out of his way to avoid commenting about one of his own players in a negative light. Some nights, he'll absolutely refuse to say anything, sitting in stone silence waiting for the next question.

If a particularly sensitive question was asked of Tom McVie, the Jets' former coach, he often pretended he didn't understand or mocked the newsman for being something of an idiot.

By and large, coaches tell you only what they plan to say, though some get off on tangents and make remarks that do reveal their gut feelings.

General manager John Ferguson likes to tackle every question. He's a man of the world and likes to project an image that he's well informed. Fergie also has a nose for news and can easily whet a reporter's appetite for a story. You can call him every hour and learn something new.

Compared to some general managers in the National Hockey League, notable Bob Pulford of Chicago Black Hawks and Craig Patrick of New York Rangers, Ferguson is a gem.

I know those of us from Winnipeg are often the envy of other reporters in the NHL at league meetings because our general manager likes to hold two-a-day briefings - including one at 8 a.m. - with the Winnipeg media present.

As for the players, here's a look at each one and this reporter's evaluation of their relations with the media.

3. Bryan Maxwell - One of the best. He likes attention and notion that his thoughts are valued. And they are.

7. Tim Watters - Perhaps a bit insecure when he meets with the media. But he's getting better. He is nobody's fool.

8. Jimmy Mann - Hates being overlooked. Talks excitedly of anything that happens in a positive light. A bit petulant in that he can turn mute in a hurry or feel he's been betrayed by the local media.

9. Doug Smail - Speaks in whispers, but listen close because he has something to say. Like a smart politician, he chooses his words carefully.

10. Dale Hawerchuk - Only 18, you must realize. Essentially, everything is new. But in four months, he's come from shy, hesitant comments to firm, healthy opinions. He has a quaint capacity to make news. I thoroughly expect that he'll be playing the role of club spokesman as early as next season. Because he's feature material for so many publications, he's often sought for interviews. Puts them off occasionally but is beginning to appreciate that newsmen have a job to do too.

11. Scott Arniel - He won't fill your head with a notebook full of heavy thoughts or notions, but he almost always has a comment to make.

12. Morris Lukowich - Has turned off some newshawks in the heat of the moment. But, for this scribe, he has always been a source of refreshing and revealing commentary on the events at hand. He can be hard-hitting.

13. Dave Christian - Makes many rather predictable and pedestrian comments to many questions, but, once at ease in his role, he can drop some dandy one-liners. A real wit.

14. Tim Trimper - Always a good source of an interesting point of view and expresses himself well.

15. Paul MacLean - Absolutely refreshing. He an also be humorous, whether he's talking about his Panasonic play of the week or charging the goaltender with an error after fluffing his shot.

17. Larry Hopkins - Mainly because he's a 27-year-old rookie who has no desire to blow this chance to play in the NHL, he is careful not to sound like an authority on anything. But he's a popular and intelligent person and a powerful thinker.

18. Serge Savard - His relations with the media are ideal, probably because he's been one of their kind, working in radio. Puts everything into context easily, as if he's handled these situations before. He's an opinion maker.

20. Willy Lindstrom - Acts like the veteran that he is. Comfortable with the media and unafraid to express a view that may be slightly different than anyone else's and that's depth in thought. A more powerful person in the dressing room than one might suspect.

21. Craig Levie - Friendly sort who enjoys the attention of the media but is extremely careful in what he says. His mind is occupied with staying up.

22. Bengt Lundholm - Not bad at all. He feels flattered to be asked for his views on anything. While less than controversial, his is nonetheless interesting.

23. Lucien DeBlois - A real hockey buff, he loves to talk about the game and doesn't hesitate to keep talking when the tape recorders are running and the pens scribbling.

25. Thomas Steen - A quiet kind of guy who doesn't express a lot of opinion in either Swedish or English. Speaks in whispers. Just the same, he likes to be noticed.

27. Don Spring - Depending on his bio-rhythms, he can be brief or loquacious. He has a dry wit. His bio-rhythms comment was one of the funniest this season. Because he tends to be less than a central figure in most games, his opinions are rarely sought. But that's the media's fault.

28. Norm Dupont - You haven't lost a friend for life it you criticize him. In that respect, he's very mature. Knows the media would be around more if he was having a better season. If anything, he misses the attention.

31. Eddie Staniowski - In good times and bad, his views are a must. Voices his opinions candidly. Always speaks about the team as a whole, unless he suspects his play contributed to a loss. A very sincere person, who you love to see under happy conditions.

33. Doug Soetaert - Very media conscious. He has a mindful of views and likes to air them in the public prints. Knows what constitutes a good story. A good source for an angle.

44. Dave Babych - Bugged by the media a year ago, he's never really decided whether reporters are friends or foes. But the content of his remarks is getting better.