WASHINGTON _ For the record, I hate writing about the media, but....
When a player makes accusations that Philly media members "make things up," it strikes a nerve.
That's what Flyers captain Mike Richards did in the latest edition of The Hockey News.
Richards is a terrific, gritty player who has been compared to a young Bobby Clarke. Personally, I would rather write about his on-ice exploits than his whining.
But when he went national and erroneously charged the local media with being dishonest, well, it can't be ignored.
Richards took verbal shots at the local media in The Hockey News, then went on the offensive after the Flyers’ 5-3 loss to Washington Sunday.
Richards is The Hockey News’ cover story, and he is quoted as saying that “when you start losing, rumors start flying and people seem to just make things up to take a negative spin on things.”
After Sunday's defeat, Richards was asked to specifically name a story that was “made up.”
“The articles in the beginning of the year,” he said, surrounded by a media horde in the visitors’ locker room. “The drinking articles and things like that. All the articles _ (it’s) why I didn’t talk to you for a month.”
Asked to elaborate, Richards said, “You didn’t write an article at the beginning of the year that we’re out too much? You asked Lupes (former Flyer Joffrey Lupul) all the questions? Weren’t there articles….that said the players were drinking too much and said Richards and (Jeff) Carter were out all the time?”
Actually, no, although the nightlife issue was addressed because of comments made by GM Paul Holmgren. But we'll get to that later....
On Oct. 10, when Lupul made his first visit to Philadelphia since being dealt to Anaheim, he was asked whether he thought he and Scottie Upshall were traded because the Flyers were trying to break up the players who enjoyed the nightlife, Lupul shook his head.
"Upshall was moved last year at the deadline for cap reasons, and I was moved to get Chris Pronger, so I don't think that had anything to do with it," he said. "We were out a lot . . . but those young guys" - he mentioned Richards, Carter, and Scott Hartnell - "are definitely professionals and know how to handle themselves."
To me, Lupul was complimenting his former teammates _ and not throwing them under the bus.
The questions about the nightlife issue were asked because of comments made by Holmgren in the Bucks County Courier Times last June, and later in The Hockey News in July.
In those stories, Holmgren said, “Am I concerned about it (the nightlife)? Let me say this: The issue has been raised by John (Stevens, then the coach) and myself with all the players.”
In the latest Hockey News story, Richards said: “It’s Philadelphia – when you’re winning there are no problems in the world and you can pretty much do whatever you want. When you start losing, rumors start flying and people seem to just make things up to take a negative spin on things."
“That’s happened so many times this year already. In the first part of the year, nothing was going on, but all of a sudden when we’re losing, the media starts throwing us under the bus and bringing up things from the past that aren’t true. We have a great start and nobody’s saying these things, but we go on a little bit of a skid and everybody’s all over us.”
Veteran defenseman Chris Pronger put things in perspective.
"There’s going to be some negative articles when you're not playing well," Pronger said, "but for the most part, you’re trying to do a job and we’re trying to do a job."
And both sides do their work honestly.