Believe it or not, my first stab at sports reporting was an audience with the King himself. I had never interviewed anyone in my entire life, yet with one hour's notice, there I was, in a dim room, on a low velvet couch (no joke), one on one with an elite player from my favorite team who also just happened to look like a Norse god.
I made a joke. He laughed. I asked questions. We talked. But I have no record of any of it, because I realized at the last minute that the storage on my phone was full, and I couldn't make Henrik Lundqvist sit there while I deleted approximately two billion pictures of my dog.
The resulting article was not my best work. I have lost sleep wondering if Lundqvist ever saw it.
Then there was my very first game as a beat reporter. I walked to the media table, gave my name, and got told that I wasn't on the list. I scrolled frantically through my phone for the email confirming my credentials, but couldn't get a signal. Fortunately, the NWHL figured all press was good press (an assumption they have likely reconsidered since), and handed me a badge.
Go ahead and make fun of me, but hanging that laminated label around my neck and striding past the ticket-takers to the press box was one of the best moments of my life. Four hours later, on the other hand, standing outside the locker room of a team that had just lost their inaugural home-opener 7-1? One of the worst.
I figured it out. I had to. Still, I regard my access to the Riveters' locker room as a privilege. When I need to critique a player or the team or its staff - and I have - I write and rewrite sentences in my head, wondering if I'm being too harsh or not harsh enough.
Why? Because there are people on the other ends of those words. Not just players. People.
I think Larry Brooks and Brett Cyrgalis sometimes forgot that. Maybe Dan Boyle could have come up with a put-down more pithy than "F***ing clown," but he didn't. And he shouldn't have to. Boyle was brought here to play a game, and he played it. There are consequences for not playing well, and he and the rest of the Rangers are now paying them.
But Boyle has been paying the consequences since he arrived in New York. In almost every Post article in which his name appears, Boyle was blamed not only for the team's defensive woes, but also for the deal that brought him here. As Brooks wrote recently:
Here, Boyle is even blamed for the cost of the Keith Yandle trade, since, if he had done his job as captain of the power play, it wouldn't have been necessary.
There's a lot more. Brooks deemed him "consistently dreadful." Cyrgalis called him "a 39 year old weight on Marc Staal's back" (huh?). Perhaps most significantly, Brooks described Boyle as "one of the least accountable players to come down the pike," although he made a point of mentioning that Boyle was certainly accountable to the organization.
Who wasn't he accountable to? Brooksie, apparently. This is what we call a narrative, and the Post hammered it home every chance they got. Right or wrong, those words clearly affected Dan Boyle. So yesterday, in what may have been his final play as a Ranger, Boyle decided to challenge that narrative. You can watch what happened here.
Let's be clear. Despite what Pat Leonard reported, Boyle did not curse out "several" reporters. He called out two by name, demanded that they leave, and stated explicitly that he respected the rest. It was Boyle's only opportunity to object to the story that had been told about him, again and again, and he took it.
As of right now, Brooks has, to his credit (so far), chosen to ignore the altercation completely. Cyrgalis, however, almost immediately doubled down.
Response to Dan Boyle? I did my job. Not sure he ever did his.— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) April 26, 2016
Then, later in the day, Cyrgalis tweeted again.
So maybe I shouldn't have responded to Boyle's immaturity w/ immaturity. But you know when something gets under you skin and you can't not?— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) April 26, 2016
Yes, Brett Cyrgalis. We know. And so does Dan Boyle, who couldn't, until he could. And so he did.