Since I joined the Oilers organization in early August, one thing that has really impressed me is the fans. I'm not saying this to butter you up – it's true. Oilers fans know their team, love the players, and although your incessant screaming can sometimes make it hard to focus in the press box (some of us have to work, you know) I am nonetheless proud of your passion and your pipes.
For many of you, one of your preferred ways of interacting with the hockey club is submitting questions for Ask an Oiler. Our inbox floods with hundreds of hockey and non-hockey related questions for the chosen player each week, and although it can be a struggle to narrow down the list down to a few dozen, I am always entertained by your questions.THREE QUESTIONS TO AVOID
About half of your submissions follow three main lines of questioning:
1 – “Do you like playing for the Oilers?”
is a common question that won't make the final cut. It's not that this is a “bad” question, it's simply that every player's answer will be the same: “Yes, I like playing for the Oilers.” Hypothetically, if a player were to NOT enjoy playing for the Oilers, he would definitely not admit this in a fan forum. Think about it.
2 – “Do you hate the Flames as much as I do?”
is another common question, and unless a player is really keen on alienating his fans, teammates, and potentially future teammates, he will undoubtedly give a politically correct answer: “Well, ‘hate' is a strong word, but I sure don't like them right now.” If you were in his position – a position that might put you in a Flames jersey someday – you would probably say the same thing.
3 - “Is there tension between you and Player X?” “Who do you NOT like on the team?”
and “What do you think of MacTavish?”
are all questions that we won't ask in Ask an Oiler, and I hope you can understand why. To be successful, the Oilers rely on trust and teamwork between players and coaches. Just as your circle of friends, family, and coworkers isn't all sunshine and lollipops 100% of the time, there are sometimes disagreements in the locker room. But you wouldn't call out your sister or your boss in a public setting, and the Oilers aren't going to do it either. It's the respectful thing to do.BE CREATIVE!
If you were one of the fans who submitted either of the questions above, I don't mean to pick on you. They are good questions, and in another setting, they would probably be included. The main reason I wanted to get into this was that I encourage you to get creative. We like to include an even mix of fun, lighthearted questions and hockey-related ones, so put your thinking cap on and venture outside the box.
Players are, after all, just people, so think about what you might have in common and go from there. Childhood questions are always good because everyone was a silly kid back in the day. And questions about minor hockey, past teams and cities, or the current season are also good because players are used to talking about the sport so they usually have lots of interesting things to say.
As the season progresses, we will try to do a few Ask an Oilers with a coach, a trainer, the GM, or – if you're REALLY lucky – one of our website staffers. We received a ton of “Are you single?” questions for Sam Gagner
, but I think Ask an Oiler: Steve Taylor could set the new standard -- especially if he was conducting the interview himself.