Tuesday, February 22, 2011

James Duthie Interview

James Duthie needs no introduction, but I'm going to give you one anyway. He is my personal favorite hockey media personality, who seamlessly mixes humor and hockey knowledge to keep you entertained and informed on all the hockey world news on TSN. Besides that, James is an author of 2 awesome books and all around good person, plus if you need another reason to like him, he's originally from Ottawa.

I recently had a chance to talk to James about Ottawa nostalagia, his role in the hockey universe and some questions about the Senators future. So sit back and enjoy the read and hopefully come trade deadline next week he will be announcing a big trade for the Sens.

Sens Town: So when and where can we watch you on TSN? Tell us about the new book.

James Duthie: Anytime there's Canadian team playing on TSN, you are stuck with my ugly mug. Every Wednesday night, the other nights vary. Two books--They Call Me Killer, which is the one I did with Brian Kilrea. And The Day I Almost Killed Two Gretzkys (and other stories about sports and life), which is a collection of my columns. Enough free plugs, I'll move on.

Sens Town: So you're from Ottawa, what are your favorite places in the city to eat? Does that make you a Sens fan, Habs fan, Leaf fan or just a fan of hockey in general?

James Duthie: Favourite place to eat? Too many to mention...I love the breakfast buffet at the Westin...big breakfast guy. But I have lots of place I love in Ottawa. I am really not a fan of any team--this jobs sucks that part out of you a little--you end up rooting for the people you like. My parents are huge Senators fan though, so it would be nice for them to win a Cup someday for them.

Sens Town: Do you think Ottawa, specifically Sens fans get a bad rap as being a bad fanbase, or is it justified?

James Duthie: No, it's a great hockey town. The World Juniors in Ottawa was the best ever. But Senators fans (like most fans) can be fickle, and they are about to be tested, because the next two years will be painful. You can't ask for a rebuild, and then complain about how your team sucks.

Sens Town: You were here for the Sens Stanley Cup Finals apperance in 2007, and the city really embraced the whole vibe I thought. What did you think of how the city came together to show support to the Sens?

James Duthie: It was unreal. The first game here is reallly one of the hilites of my career...the noise in that building...the atmosphere on the streets after they won Game 3...really unforgettable.

Sens Town: You used to work at CTV here in Ottawa, so who's a bigger celebrity, you or Carolyn Waldo? Me and my buddy have an on going joke about how shes the big shot local celebrity.

James Duthie: CW has the Olympic gold medals, I have a participation ribbon from my Grade 5 track meet. She wins. Plus, she's a great lady.

Sens Town: Fair enough, medals trump all. What did you think about the HBO 24/7 series? Everyone loved it, they have to do it again next year right?

James Duthie: Loved it. Not to get hokey, but it reminded me how much I love the game, and how lucky I am to cover it.

Sens Town: Since you covered the World Jr's, what did you think about 2 Sens prospect at the tourney in Jared Cowen and Robin Lehner?

James Duthie: I think Jared Cowen has come a long way in a year, and is going to be a solid player for a long time. Robin is young, and firey, but the jury is still out. Just too hard to predict goalies these days.

Sens Town: So what do you make of our lone all star in Erik Karlsson? It looks like he has a bright future offensively and is doing better defensively as the season goes on. Will he become a star or just a decent player?

James Duthie: I think he'll be a star. I really do. But I always worry about young players with promise having to spend four or five years in a losing environment. You need to learn to win at some point. He still has lots of time, but let's hope the rebuild doesn't set his progess his back

Sens Town: So Eugene Melnyk came out and said that Cory Clouston and Bryan Murray will keep their jobs until the end of the season, what are your thoughts on that? Surprised? I would assume neither will be back with both their contracts up at the end of the year. Do you think it's a good idea to leave Murray in charge for the trade deadline?

James Duthie: Personally, if I was an owner, and I knew I wasn't going to have the GM back, I'd want to replace him ASAP, and have the new GM control the trades and draft. But I don't know if Eugene has made that decision, and Murray is a good man who will do what's best for the organization, even if he's not going to be part of it. He's done a decent job with the trades so far.

Sens Town: Ok we all know the Sens season is a disaster, so what went wrong from a team that was the 5th seed last year and made the finals 4 seasons ago? When did it all go wrong? I think most of us point to choosing Redden over Chara and letting Chiarelli go to Boston as turning points.

James Duthie: Redden over Chara was a big one, though remember at the time, a lot of people didn't think it was a bad call. Hindsight right. I think the Heatley thing was the real tipping point. You were never going to get fair value back in that deal. Plus the continual failure to get a goalie who can steal games for you in the playoffs. It all adds up.

Sens Town: Do you think the Sens should go for a complete rebuild or no? I say yes, most people tend to agree but some are worried that the fans won't support it and our team could be moved in a few years if we have continued poor attendance.

James Duthie: I think we already have your answer. The rebuild is on, and as I said, it's going to be painful. But I can't see this team moving. Too good of a market.

Sens Town: Ok so you're the GM, what would be your plan to get us back to being a young, fast competitive team for years to come? What's your strategy?

James Duthie: I like what he's done so far. Wouldn't have done much differently. Spezza is untradeable with that contract, plus I think he gets a raw deal sometimes--accept him for what he is--a really talented offensive player who will never be a great two-way player. They need to get lucky and hope whoever they take with the top pick turns out to be a franchise guy. Then you build around that.

Sens Town: Sens fans have suffered years and years of Leclaire, Elliott, Gerber, Lalime, Emery, etc, why is Ottawa so incapable of finding a decent goalie?

James Duthie: Million dollar question. Goalies are by far the toughest position to evaluate. Scouts are wrong all the time. Truth is, they aren't many elite goalies in the league now....maybe 6 or 7. So a combination of bad scouting and bad luck I guess.

Sens Town: So which was the bigger disappointment signing, Kovalev or Gonchar and why?

James Duthie: I wouldn't call Kovalev a disappointment, because he's been exactly what I expected he'd be. Erratic, frustrating, infuriating. Like he's always been. So Gonchar, but if he's still there, I bet he'll be better next year.

Sens Town: In all your years covering hockey, have you ever seen one team have so many players have career low seasons in one year?

James Duthie: I'm sure it has happened, but the typical team will have 5 guys have career years, 5 guys have awful years, and a dozen have average years. Ottawa is half awful-half average (maybe one or two good). It is crazy.

Sens Town: Should the Sens consider trading Alfredsson? In some ways, I'd like to have him get a shot at the cup and at 38 he is running out of time. He's clearly lost a step and starting to show his age finally and the injuries are starting to pile up. It seems to me he'd have a lot of value to a contending team.

James Duthie: I would leave it up to Alfie. He has earned that. I doubt he leaves. He's the Mayor. But if he wants a shot at a Cup, they owe it to him. Doubt it happens, though.

Sens Town: So rumor has it you're left handed, who's your favorite left handed athlete?

James Duthie: Steve Young. Niners, baby (have to hold on to those glory years...it's been a little bleak since)

Sens Town: What kind of music does James Duthie like? Do you ever refer to yourself in the 3rd person like that?

James Duthie: Jimmy likes everything. Still love The Hip, love Emminem...Drake, like Arcade Fire and some of the new stuff out there. Jimmy is all over the map. (Did Jimmy just answer your other question)

Sens Town: It's no secret you're the funniest guy on TSN, but I've got Jay Onrait as a close second, agree or disagree?

James Duthie: I can't agree. I have me listed as the 27th funniest commentator on TSN, just after Vic Rauter and the monkey. Onrait makes me laugh. Especially when he walks around the Sportcentre set pantless. Which he does nightly. He's on a lot of medication. Not a lot of people know that.

Sens Town: Awesome! Thanks for the exlcusive. Did you think the ASG draft worked? I thought it added something different. At least they're taking chances.

James Duthie: It was fun. I don't know if you could sustain it over the longterm...unless there's a large tunrover in All-Stars...for example you can't split up the Sedins next year, that was a one-trick pony. But the players had a good time, we just need to loosen them up a little more.

Sens Town: And finally, a lot of people around here are in favor of tanking for the high draft pick, what do you think about that strategy?

James Duthie: I think you are in the driver's seat for pick 1 or 2. But the Oilers are putting up a good fight.

Sens Town: Thanks for giving us a bit of your valuable time Jimmy, anything else to add?

James Duthie: Parting thought. Keep the faith, Ottawa. It will be a rough two years or so, but it the right moves are made, it will be worth it. Thanks for having me...jd.

Be sure to follow James Duthie on twitter and check out the interview archive here. To order either of his books click here and follow me on twitter here.

Thoughts on the interview?



Adrian said...

Great one-on-one!

Anonymous said...

I agree, good job as usual. Thanks James for dropping by and sharing your thoughts on our team! It's a big tent and who says that you can't show your true colours as a journalist . . . I mean cheering for your hometown team.

Anonymous said...

wow!! amnazing post!! love duthie!