Ranger Rant: What Really Happened to the Chad Johnson Interview

First off, I would just like to say that I am more than happy to be a part of the writing team here at Blueshirt Banter and it is unfortunate that my first editorial will have to be something a bit controversial. Most of you remember just about a month ago when I had the chance to interview Rangers goaltender Chad Johnson for my blog Metro Hockey. The article was featured on this site by Jim, so most of you will also remember the subsequent removal of this interview from both our websites.

After about a month of toying with the idea of just how to explain what exactly happened, I decided that the best way would be telling the simple, plain truth. I will give you a day by day rundown of just what exactly happened regarding my interview with Chad.

January 7th: After seeing Chad Johnson had been called up and looked like he was going to stay, I added him on Facebook. This was without a doubt the real Chad Johnson. We all know the celebrity and sports figures Facebook profiles have "friends" numbering in the thousands. Since Chad was a relative unknown at the time, he had less than two hundred. I hardly ever conduct Facebook interviews but this one checked out. I even had three other writers, whose names I will not mention, take a look and they gave me the "okay" and it checked out. The most convincing piece of information was Chad's email address, which was visible right on his page.

January 9th/ ~9pm: I send Chad a message telling him a little about my blog and that I would like to conduct an interview with him. I'm not really expecting a response but I gave it a shot anyway.

January 9th/ ~10pm: Chad contacts me back through Facebook instant message asking how the interview would be conducted and what I was going to ask of him. I tell him that all I wanted to ask about is his playing style and what his experiences were like thus far, with his first NHL start happening just nights earlier. Chad agrees to do the interview and I send him five questions about fifteen minutes later.

January 9th/10:35-11pm: Chad and I have a discussion on the Facebook IM and he sends me the answers to the first two questions in separate private messages, because of how long they are. We then continue to have a little side conversation on hockey and some random items. Now, as a Ranger fan my whole life, this was an incredible moment. Just think, we grow up rooting for these guys from a distance and here I was shooting the breeze with a New York Ranger. I thank Chad for his time and he says he will answer my other three questions over the next few days.

January 10th/12:40-5 pm: I publish the article on Metro Hockey and it is met with rave reviews. Chad's answers are long and in-depth and really gave Ranger fans an insight into his game-day routines and playing styles. At around 4pm, Chad contacts me, thanking me for posting the article and that he will have the other answers for me soon. At around 5pm, Jim features part of the interview here on Banter where it is met with further outstanding reviews. People didn't understand how important all of this was to me. Here I am, a fan, who just conducted the first in-depth interview with a player brand new to the National Hockey League. I felt important, reads on my site went up, and Chad was happy as well, and more than willing to continue the interview.

January 13th/7pm: After going three days without hearing from Chad, I figure he is busy with hockey and I did not press him further. What I had gotten was already more than enough and if he never got around to the other questions I would have still been very grateful. Then at around 7pm, I get an email from Chad's agent, who stated that he has "heard " I conducted an interview with Chad Johnson but that it would have been impossible for me to do so because he had just gotten off the phone with Chad and he supposedly said that he never did such an interview and the person I talked to was an "impostor". However, the "real" Chad would still be more than happy to conduct an interview with me. He asked that I remove the current questions from the site and if I would still be interested in an interview. I agreed to this and emailed him back.

January 14th/~2pm: I phone Chad's agent and explain the situation further, even though I had emailed him the previous night. He tells me, "No harm, no foul. No one is angry and we all had a good laugh over it." The conversation was a month ago but those are as close to his words as I can remember. He then tells me he will email me Chad Johnson's contact information and to proceed with the interview.

January 14th/~3pm: I get an email from the agent and anxiously scroll down to see Chad's contact information. Now, what I am about to say next is something that I have not told anyone before. The email address by which to contact the "real" Chad was the exact same one I saw on the Facebook just days earlier. I quickly open Facebook to double check only to find that the whole profile had been deleted (it has since been restored). Annoyed and confused, I then email Chad telling him what his agent told me and that we were good to go. He responds very quickly saying that it was not a problem, and just to clear it with Rangers Public Relations.

January 14/~4pm: I email the Ranger PR Director, who I will simply refer to as PRD (for PR Department). I am not expecting an email in return from him because I had never gotten a response in the past with any of my inquiries. I explain to him the situation and that I have the permission of both Chad and his agent to conduct the interview. PRD responds to me within ten minutes saying that I should have gone through his office in the first place and that Chad will not be available to do the interview. So I guess the human being himself wanting to do the interview isn't good enough?

January 14th/~5pm: I CC an email to Chad and his agent telling them of my response and apologizing for any inconvenience. I then return PRD's email saying that I did not go through him in the first place because I had never gotten a response back ever before. He replied, "You just did on the first email you ever sent to me." Which is false because I had previous inquiries with both him and his assistant and they were never responded to.

About a week after all of this happened, I appeared on the Blueshirt Banter Radio Show to discuss what happened, and Eddie "The Mouth" Gieck summed it up perfectly when he said that the Rangers PR is simply afraid that Chad may have said something negative about the franchise. They are afraid of allowing a blogger not affiliated with the team to share in a spotlight in anyway. They are basically afraid of their own shadow. I even offered to send Rangers PR a sampling of my questions where they could have allowed/disallowed anything I would ask him. I did not get a response back on that one. Want to know what my dangerous and highly controversial questions to Chad were?

1. Can you tell us what it feels like to go from making the jump to the NHL from college hockey in less than a year?

2. Your style of play appears to be so calm and keeps movement around the crease to a minimum. Where did you learn to play this way? And what advantages does it have?

3. What is your immediate feeling upon completing your first start in the NHL? You didn't appear to be nervous, but what was going through your mind right before the puck dropped?

4. Whether you finish the season up with the Rangers or down in Hartford, what do you hope to accomplish by the end of the season?

5. In just a week, you went from backing up on the Rangers to starting in Hartford, then back up again to start for the Rangers. Did this make it more difficult to play? And what was your routine like on the day of a game?

Don't you just know that somehow, Chad would have found a way to bash the organization with an unrecoverable statement that would have sent shock waves through the franchise by answering those questions? Rangers PR is afraid of their own fan base because they know Ranger fans are smart enough to realize that all is not well with the front office. They were afraid that I would have conducted this interview with Chad and had some sort of hidden agenda behind it all. Remember, this is the New York Rangers, the so called classiest organization in hockey.

In a conference call yesterday, I spoke to Jim, Nick, and Joe about all of this and once again, we were all on the same page. The Ranger fan is not allowed to voice his opinion and the amateur blogger is not allowed to have any part of the spotlight whatsoever. I will always be a fan of this team, no matter how bad I was treated by the organization. The same can be said with Jim here on Banter, who has been treated in an even more disgraceful way than myself.

The Rangers are now down to three quality beat writers. For a New York team, that is almost laughable. The Rangers hardly get any coverage on TV and radio and still they fail to acknowledge the amateur blogosphere. But for some reason they are afraid of us. The mighty New York Rangers, afraid of some kids trying to get their foot in the door and cover the team while having some fun. They can ignore us all they want, they have that right. But they must also understand that we are still here, and we won't be going away anytime soon.