Shortly after the whole Sean Avery fiasco for the NHL and the Dallas Stars, a heartwarming story concerning the Chicago Blackhawks appeared in a variety of media outlets. To quickly summarize the story, GM Dale Tallon’s father passed away. After a game in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, the team had been scheduled to return home for their only break in a tough six-game road trip. But instead of taking their commercial flight from the Toronto International Airport, the team unanimously votes to skip the flight. They go back to the hotel and then charter two buses and drive two hours north to attend their GM’s father’s funeral. On their way back to Toronto after the funeral, the team pulls up to McDonald’s and sit down to have a meal in this small hockey town in Canada.
Brandon Faber, director of media relations for the Blackhawks, said that he was actually pitching the story to local media when the e-mail containing its narrative began to get forwarded to him.
“I don’t know where it originated. I don’t know who wrote it up,” he said this afternoon.
Reading the well-circulated e-mail about the Blackhawks, it’s pretty clear that someone associated with the team — hey, maybe even in communications — might have authored it, and Faber agrees.
Could it have come from a player on the Blackhawks?
“It could have. Honestly, I don’t know. It’s somebody that obviously knows the story very well,” said Faber. …
As Faber said, it’s a story that cuts through the despair of some depressing times. “The economy’s down, there’s issues with our governor in Illinois … you open the paper, and it’s nothing but bad news. It’s good to see this story getting its due.”
It’s great to see positive stories like this get their share of media attention when the media puts a spotlight on so much negative. What makes this noteworthy is that this story didn’t immediately appear in the news. It took an e-mail to circulate before the media got wind of this story. While the Blackhawks PR director was about to pitch the story, the story comes across even better because reporters heard of it indirectly.
What’s unique about the Blackhawks’ tale, and maybe hockey players in general, is that no one involved thought it was unusual enough to share with the rest of us. Part of it, no doubt, is because hockey resides at the edge of America’s crowded pro sports radar — at least until one player caves in a rival’s head or tastelessly talks about his girlfriend. But the other part of it is hockey’s ethos.
When people ask which athletes are the best interviews, I always say, “Hockey players, hands down.” Not because they come up with the most colorful or controversial quotes, but because they’re usually the most honest. For whatever reason — the game’s tradition, its Canadian roots, the fact that most players still labor at the low end of sport’s stratospheric salary scale — hockey guys tend to be more open, more polite and less impressed with their own stardom than their pro counterparts.
Just another great story that I love to see make the rounds and it’s great when PR professionals can pitch stories like these instead of trying to create something out of a less significant story.