Providence Bruins

What to Cover

Something really bothered my during my visit last week to the Providence Bruins’ press box.

I mentioned that there were three other members of the media on hand for the game.  I have no problem naming the organizations they represent; The Pro Hockey News, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, and WBRU Radio.

If you’re from the Northeast, is there a name you do not see?  How about the Providence Journal, the hometown paper of the P-Bruins!

I found it absolutely amazing that the local paper did not have a reporter on hand for the game.  What makes it worse is the paper’s newsroom is literally across the street from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center!

I tried rationalize why they were not there.  Maybe the paper was tied up with local college basketball coverage seeing that Providence is a big hoops town?  No.  Providence College and the University of Rhode Island were not slated to play until the next day. 

Even though the Red Sox had just opened its Spring Training camp, there were no extra reporters than normal on hand in Fort Myers.  So why the slight?

The P-Bruins say the Journal does staff some home games, but not all of them.  This begs for a discussion on what appears to be the effects of the shrinking newspaper sports departments and their casualties.

The P-Bruins are Providence’s lone professional franchise, and the city’s daily apparently does not find it important enough to cover all its home games.  I’m not calling on the paper to devote a full-time reporter to the beat, or even suggest the paper should send a reporter out on the road with the team.  But goodness, all the paper needs to do is assign a stringer to cover all the home games!  Hell, I’ll do it! 

The practice of the Providence Journal unfortunately is a disturbing trend seen at sports departments across the country.  We all know it comes down to dollars and cents.  I’m not a P-Bruins butt-boy, but it seems to me that by neglecting your lone local professional sports franchise, no matter the sport, you are providing a disservice to the dedicated readers of your sports page.

On Press Row- Providence Bruins

Life in the minors is often tough for the players and coaches trying to make it to the bigs. The P.R. staffs of the clubs also struggle in promoting their team; especially in areas of the country dominated by either their parent organizations or major college programs. Hockey has had its own problems with relevancy.

New England has traditionally been an area of the country that has supported hockey on all levels. The Boston Bruins, although not as successful as their pro baseball, football, and now basketball counterparts, still get a respectable showing at the gate. Their American Hockey League affiliate, located in Providence, RI, is also a decent draw. Being a hop, skip, and a jump from our SMJ headquarters, we thought it would be a good idea to see how the media covers the Providence Bruins by experiencing a game from press row.

The P-Bruins public relations staff consists of V.P. of Marketing and Public Relations Kevin Boryczki and Director of Public Relations Adam Kaufman. As with other minor league operations it’s important for these men need to hone their multi-tasking skills. They maintain the team’s website and work in conjunction with the arena’s video and message board staff on game day. In addition, both serve as the team’s radio play-by-play voice, with Boryczki handling the duties on the road and Kaufman at home.

The Bruins play their home games at the 36 year old Dunkin Donuts Center located in downtown Providence. The arena is currently in the throes of a major renovation which is slated to be completed later this fall. The initial phase of the work included the clean-up of the arena concourse, the creation of luxury box space, and the building of a new press box. The old press area was situated at center ice. With the advent of the luxury suites the new press box was relocated near one corner of the arena. Not the best vantage point for a game, but the media still has complete view of the playing surface.

The new press box is actually one long counter which comfortably seats 20-25 people. The newly designed area provides plenty of work space and easy access to electrical outlets. The new press box is also equipped with wireless Internet access. Each end of the press box is reserved for the teams’ radio broadcasts. The middle of the box is the home for AHL officials who compile statistics of the game. One official is charged with providing live game updates for the AHL website. (To get the full effect, check in during AHL action.) The only negative aspect of the press box is its insufficient lighting. I spent much my time trying to angle my notes in such a way so that I could best take advantage of the low lighting conditions. The team also provides light refreshments for those on press row.

The P-Bruins staff does a great job in providing the press with all the material it needs to cover the game. This includes notes from each individual team, material from the AHL, and information pertinent to that day’s match-up. Game updates are distributed to the media between periods. And a final wrap is available at game’s end.

The P-Bruins currently sport the best record in the AHL. But on this Sunday matinee, there were only three other members of the media on hand to cover the game along with myself. And I wasn’t there to report on the specifics of the contest.

The game between the P-Bruins and the Lowell Devils (the New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate) was actually a great game for the fans. Although the Bruins controlled the action, they needed a goal in overtime to pull out a 4-3 victory.

Post game in the AHL is not flashy. Coaches are available for interviews outside the clubhouse and players are accessible in the locker room. No special interview rooms for a regular season game in February.

Overall the P-Bruins provide the media with a professional experience that would make its parent club proud.

(Thanks go out to Adam Kaufman and the P-Bruins for providing us with the access and information for this story.)