Jimmy Hayes and David Price both had the opportunity to confront media members recently. The guy with nothing to lose somehow handled it significantly better than the highly paid superstar.
According to Michael Felger, Hayes, fresh off being bought out of his Bruins contract this summer, approached him in Nantucket over the weekend, handed him a beer and then lit into him, as the Dorchester native was what Felger called “really unhappy” with Felger and Mazz for some shots he felt were too personal.
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Now, we shouldn’t need to get into how Hayes should feel about the local media vs. how Price should feel, but here’s a reminder of each’s situation: Hayes is a local kid who was billed as something he wasn’t. No one expected things to go as poorly as they did, but they did and it was ugly.
Price, on the other hand, was a highly touted free agent signing who had a good first year in Boston and, after injury delayed the start of his 2017, has been good on the field and pissy as hell off it. He’s yelled at two media members in the name of being a good teammate, most recently when he went after Dennis Eckersley on the team plane.
Worst-case scenario, Hayes’ days an NHL regular could be over. Price remains in the midst of a prolific career and is making $30 million this season. There’s no question of who’s had it worse.
So when you see how each handled the situation -- and even consider that alcohol was involved in what was the more civil case -- Price’s treatment of Eckersley (according to Dan Shaughnessy’s report) looks even worse.
With the media, Hayes is polite, yet soft-spoken. In the setting in which he found himself with one of his biggest critics, he didn’t need to be. He could have tried to embarrass Felger, as Price did by mocking Eckerlsey in front of an airplane full of people.
Instead, Hayes gave Felger a piece of his mind and the two moved on. Hayes doesn’t need to worry about Felger given that he’s not playing here anymore, but he got to make Felger answer for any perceived low blows.
Felger was more critical of Hayes than Eckersley is of the Red Sox. In fact, Paula Abdul was often more critical of Idol contestants than Eckersley is of the Red Sox. That the players apparently hate him is perplexing, as they’re the only ones who think he comes off as malicious.
Confrontations between players and media members certainly happen throughout the course of a season, though they typically follow a more standard format: Player says something to reporter because he doesn’t like their story or question, uncomfortable exchange takes place and, often times, apologies are given when cooler heads have prevailed.
Yet there’s been no apology to Eckersley from Price, and there’s little reason to believe cooler heads will prevail as it relates to Price’s attitude toward the media. Hayes’ handling of his confrontation said something about his character; Price’s confrontations are only serving to build a unnecessarily negative reputation.