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On the other side of the microphone with... Jose Theodore

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

When hockey players decide to hang up their skates, their desire to stay connected to the sport they played and were so very passionate about since childhood, is still as strong as ever before. Some end up working directly with their respective teams, while some decide to work on the other side of the microphone as TV or radio analysts. Many Habs alums now cover the Canadiens in one way or another, and we caught up with a few of them to learn more about their transition to the media. This week, we have Jose Theodore, who is an analyst for TVA Sports

What motivated you to make the transition into the media world? Was it yourself or the network that made the first move?

JOSE THEODORE: At the start of the 2013-14 season, I was still waiting for a contract offer. Since my agent was negotiating with some NHL teams that had interest in me, I continued to train and prepare for the season. But when training camps opened I was still searching for my next career move. That’s when RDS and TVA Sports contacted me. It wasn’t something I had planned on jumping into so immediately, but I decided to meet with the two networks and eventually chose to embark on the adventure with TVA Sports.

After you hung up your skates, how important was it for you to remain in the world of hockey?

JT: I knew I always wanted to stay involved with hockey after I retired. Even if I did’nt have a job in the NHL, I wanted to stay close. Working in the media has enabled me to do just that and has allowed me to remain a part of the entourage surrounding the Canadiens at the same time.

Analyzing the performance of your former team must feel a bit weird, right? Is it difficult to remain impartial?

JT: Not really because I've always been a pretty straight up guy. I've never been afraid to speak my mind and say what I think. Yes I played for the Canadiens for eight seasons but I also played with the Avalanche, the Capitals, the Wild and Panthers. My job is to share my experience with the audience and give my honest opinion without bias. Obviously I want the Canadiens to do well and go as far as possible, but it's my job as a former player to approach each subject with honesty and integrity.

What was your perception of hockey journalists when you played? Has it changed now that you’re on the other side?

JT: As a player, it was definitely difficult to accept being criticized by those who had never played in the NHL, those who never had to make the same sacrifices it takes to get there. As a player it was an aspect of the relationship that I had a hard time accepting. It has not really changed nowadays because people will also always criticize the fact that I didn’t have to go through specific training or schooling in order to do my job. But when it comes to analyzing a game or situation, we former players know what we are talking about. I think that's why the television networks want us. We are not here to steal anyone’s job but at the same time our opinions are well respected.

How do you find that the media world has changed since your first began as a player?

JT: I do not think it has changed that much. When I played, the players didn’t really have a forum to express their opinions because the social media networks of today did not exist when I first started. If a journalist was overly critical of you in an article, it might come to your attention but it ended there. Today, I'm happy for the players because they have a medium to express themselves and if they disagree with something that is said or written. They can also privately talk to the journalists if they feel the need. I certainly would have liked to have been able to do that a couple times in my career (laughs). I did it a few times but always in private. Nowadays everything is done openly in broad daylight.

During your career, which city’s journalists did you like the most or hate the most?

JT: When you are in a city like Montreal, there is a media circus of journalists following the team. Every day the topic of discussion in Montreal is the Canadiens. But I also played in cities like Washington where the journalists are much closer to the players because there are only a handful of media members covering the team. They know they cannot afford not to be on good terms with the players. In larger markets like Montreal, the competition between the media is fierce. That can sometimes ignite a hunt for “scoops.” In general, I’ve always maintained a good relationship with everyone I talk to. When you give people your time, they respect you.

Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com.

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