Other duties as assigned
This got me thinking about other tasks (MANY other tasks) that are quite unique to my position – tasks that they didn't include in the job description. Here are a few of my favourites:
You know those “5 Questions with Player X” features that we put up a couple times a week? Well, one of my duties is to create the graphics that go along with the features. Sounds simple, but it isn't. Have you ever tried Photoshopping Tom Gilbert's head onto the body of an old-school baseball player? Or transforming Steve Staios into a five star chef? Or positioning Family Guy's Stewie on Ladislav Smid's stick?
It's harder than in seems: first you have to decide which topic you're going to represent, then you have to find an appropriate graphic (Foot Loops toucan? Easy. Celine Dion as a Beastie Boy? Not so easy.), then you have you find a player image that works with everything. THEN you have to employ your legendary Photoshop skills to put everything together in one compelling image. It can be a long process that often makes me think “I'm getting paid to insert Marc Pouliot into a video game. Weird.”
After practice or a morning skate, the Oilers PR team opens up the locker room to the media. At this point, over a dozen camera men and reporters and media celebs of all kinds (including Steve Taylor) flood into the room with an idea of who they'd like to interview. If this player is sitting in his stall, they will approach him and start the interview. But often only a few players are in the room at this point, which leaves a cluster of media people clogging the middle of the locker room.
This often leaves me standing in some awkward place, usually near the laundry bin. As the players exit the ice, they toss their sweaty practice jerseys into this bin. And by “toss,” I mean launch. And by “into this bin,” I mean at me, because I am inevitably in the way.
This situation isn't limited to laundry. The players also attempt to toss tape balls into the garbage can, which is also in the middle of the room. I've never been hit with a tape ball, but I have seen a few players try – and try again – to hit the garbage from only two feet away. I didn't think dodging laundry and tape balls – or keeping my mouth shut about who has horrible basketball skills – would be part of the job, but I guess “other duties as assigned” covers a lot of territory.
SILLY QUESTION ASKING
And finally, one of the biggest aspects of my job relates to the other aspects I've already mentioned. While the other media ask tough questions about powerplay and line combinations, I find myself asking tough questions of a different sort. After a player has been through an intense scrum, I'll often sneak up to him and ask “What's your favourite breakfast cereal?” or “Who's your favourite celebrity?” or my favourite: “If you were one of the Seven Dwarfs, which one would you be?” (Happy and Sleepy are the most common answers. Few will admit to identifying with Grumpy.)
After over three months, the players have gotten used to my silly questions and don't seem so shocked when I grill them about condiments or cartoon characters. While many of them prefer the hockey talk, I think they all appreciate the importance of the fun stuff. And I hope you do too, because it takes a whole lotta of photo cropping and laundry dodging to make it happen.