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...because it's been way too long. (Yeah, yeah...I know. I'm sorry.)

Last night I had a dream that the only way I was able to get proper NHL intel was to hide under a pile of coats at the GM's meeting.

Sadly, when it comes to obtaining information from the source, bloggers often come up on the short end of the stick. That said, being associated with traditional media doesn't always ensure open doors, as I taught you here.

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered I still had enough pull in my strength-of-dental-floss reputation to persuade former Ottawa Senators president Roy Mlakar to speak with me a few weeks ago.

Why are you only hearing about this now? Well, what started out as plans for an interview meant for Puck Daddy on Yahoo! became a very candid, no-holds-barred phone conversation which lasted nearly 90 minutes.

But, here's the rub: It was all off-the-record.

Ram, for all intents and purposes, has "gone dark" since his departure from the Senators organization nearly two years ago. And after talking to him at length, it became clear that he intends to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. Not that people haven't tried to get him to talk, even in situations similar to the one I found myself in that day. He told me that several networks have attempted to chat him up casually, and he shut them all down.

Why he chose to speak to me of all people, I'll never know. Maybe it's because he still thinks of me as that goofy 20-year-old girl on the radio. (The first thing he said to me was, "I miss hearing you on 'The Jim Rome Show.'" I guess you really can't escape your past.)

I knew 30 seconds into the conversation that what we would discuss couldn't repeated in a public forum, or used for any kind of story on Puck Daddy. I thought I would be upset; perhaps I would get angry after I hung up the phone. Surprisingly, that didn't happen. Roy was obviously guarded as our conversation began, but after a while he became candid and rather emotional as he spoke (which isn't necessarily surprising, as Mlakar was/is always a passionate guy).

I actually only had three questions planned - ones that I knew would require lengthy answers. But as we talked, the walls came down on either side. I took the opportunity to ask him everything I had been wondering about, and he answered with a remarkable amount of frankness that was, in short, phenomenal. I hung up the phone with a new perspective on the team that I hadn't had in a long time.

And what did I do about it? Nothing. I kept it that way because 1) I gave Roy my word and 2) it was the right thing to do.

Sometimes I worry that I go too easy on people that I interview - not necessarily in terms of questions, but in the overall set-up. I know that I'm a people-pleaser, so I want to make sure people are comfortable, and I end up explaining a lot of how the interview will ultimately appear to the reader. In one case, I actually went so far as to write up the piece and show it to the interviewee for their approval before filing it - a move that would probably make a J-school professor's head explode. It's likely due to these reasons that I get rave reviews from the subjects when the pieces come out. And, to be fair, when readers did compliment me on my writing, they almost always mentioned my ability to be diplomatic (this was work that had nothing to do with the blog, of course).

Now as I find myself on the outside looking in, I could have been a jerk about my talk with Ram. If you don't have a regular gig, what other way is there to get noticed, but to make a big splash? I could have betrayed his trust to do this. I would have outscooped a lot of people to do so. The cynical part of me who believes that the majority of bloggers out there still lack couth and decorum knows what they would have done. I don't buy the "it's them versus us" mentality in sportswriting - traditional or otherwise. It's very much every man and woman for themselves.

But that splash isn't worth burning a source. I know that from the few years I spent writing for a paper. No offense to the ones who know better, but it's something that your average blogger doesn't have a chance to learn. And speaking simply from a personal point of view, I know it's something that, morally, wouldn't sit right with me. (Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but that's another post for another time.)

I could've used this opportunity to get my name everywhere for a day - maybe longer. But then it would've been over. Would I gain prestige for it? Maybe. A gig? Nope. Roy's anger? Definitely. Give me my source, every time. Give me a chance for insight - a way to flesh out opinions that the run-of-the-mill blogger doesn't have access to. These are the things that make me actually want to keep writing, when more often that not, I find myself wanting to stop. In the meantime, my name can remain largely in the shadows for one day more.

6 responses to "Your March Deglaze: On Mlakar and keeping one's mouth shut"

  1. Ok, but then why post about it? I feel like I wasted time reading this post, which amounts to you bragging about having a scoop but keeping it a secret. You could have at least got Roy to approve the dropping of a few hints or tidbits. But instead it was a wast of time to read. Sorry for sounding harsh, but I just feel ripped off.


  2. I made it quite clear in the beginning of the post that my conversation with Mlakar wasn't going to involve exposing any "scoops." The point of the post was to explain how sometimes a blogger has to keep things to themselves to maintain a source, as opposed to looking for pub. Apologies if I wasted your time, but as I said - nothing about the post led you to believe a big spill was coming.

    The Universal Cynic

  3. Ripped off?? Over what? When someone clearly states at the beginning of a post that everything that was discussed was "off the record" and that it was not going to be disclosed at any point during the post, what do you have to feel ripped off about?
    Let's see....Erin states she will not be mentioning any of the specific details of her conversation with Roy quite clearly at the beginning, yet you feel compelled and drawn in to read the entire post..... sounds more like kick-ass journalism to me.
    You were given an "out" at the very beginning of the post to stop reading if you were expecting to learn any of the juicy details involved.
    If you feel ripped off, take a look in the mirror and ask the person you see who is truly responsible for making you feel that way....
    Kick-ass Erin!


  4. This article was like reading an Eklund blog after he takes shit for not disclosing his sources or all his info. Do you really want to lower yourself to that standard when you're such a better writer then 99% of MSM/blog authors out there? Think about it, if Roy told you Sens details it likely means he's told others the dirty little secrets you claim to have access to. Solution? Create a pseudonym, type up a summary of the details on hfboards presenting yourself as a jaded conspiracy theorist and let the details loose. If you have nothing new to disclose, don't write anything at all, but its a shame to read your talents going to waste like that.


  5. Thanks for the praise, Anonymous, but you completely missed the point.

    The Universal Cynic

  6. Will your interview ever see the light of day under the right conditions?