Draisaitl gets into it with reporter, flashbacks to Tortorella vs Brooks, Oilers issues

During a press conference on an off day, Leon Draisaitl got into it with a reporter. The former league MVP who ranks second in scoring with 54 points (26-28-54), didn’t particularly care for Jim Matheson’s line of questioning yesterday.

After the Oilers superstar gave direct answers to initial questions regarding the team’s struggles, the interview session went off the rails. It was due to Matheson. A Hall Of Fame writer who’s covered the sport a long time, he started trying to bait Draisaitl. It lead to this heated exchange.

When asked on what the Oilers needed to fix, the 26-year old German mentioned that they have to get better at everything. However, that wasn’t enough of an answer for the testy Matheson. His follow-up question was a clear indication that he wanted Draisaitl to expand on what specifically needs to improve to start winning games.

Visibly frustrated by the question, Draisaitl said, “You have all the answers.” It was a sarcastic reply to a veteran reporter who isn’t well liked by Oilers players. Apparently, that response infuriated the salty Matheson. He then asked why Draisaitl was so pissy. The Edmonton star wisely took the high road.

Even more puzzling was Matheson indicating that he didn’t like the answer Draisaitl gave. So, he then asked one final nauseating question. Is it good when Draisaitl visibly shows his frustration during a game letting an opponent know he’s upset? The response was classic.

“It’s great. For sure,” he sarcastically said in a Canadian tone. It was the perfect way to respond to such a click bait question from a snarky reporter who lost his cool. Matheson wanted to become the story. Of course, the interview went viral on social media with plenty of responses from the hockey community.

My view is that sometimes, the media goes too far. We can flashback to Larry Brooks and former Rangers coach John Tortorella. He wrote a piece mocking Wade Redden that wasn’t in good taste. Redden stepped in and defended a teammate. As we know, Redden didn’t pan out for the Rangers after getting a big contract from then Team President and GM Glen Sather. However, he was a good teammate and never once reacted negatively.

That resulted in the classic exchange above. Hard to believe that was 11 years ago. I read the Brooks column. Seeing Tortorella defend his player was great. Coaches should have their players’ backs. Even if Redden struggled as a Ranger. He was justified in calling out Brooks, who acted arrogant during the postgame interview with other reporters present.

Of course, that wasn’t the only time Brooks and Tortorella got into it. When he was still coach of the Lightning, who he guided to a Stanley Cup in 2004, Tortorella again got annoyed with Brooks during a postgame interview. Here is the exchange.

In that one, I don’t blame Brooks who was there covering the series between the Devils and Lightning. At times, Tortorella could shutdown questions when it came to specifics. Here, he’s being asked what did his team do? He chose not to answer it. The thing is while other reporters moved on, the antagonistic Brooks couldn’t. That lead to Tortorella telling him to leave in different terms. It made for a funny moment that still is replayed.

The media have a job to do when they cover teams. That is understood. However, when you see some of the questions a Matheson or Brooks can ask, it can cause some testy responses. That’s due to their persistence. It shouldn’t get so heated.

Edmonton went from getting off to a great start thanks in large part to the dynamic duo of Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. The two best players in the world had the Oilers rolling despite not having the best goaltending. Eventually, injuries to starter Mike Smith have really hurt them. Mikko Koskinen hasn’t performed well. Now, they’re on young third stringer Stuart Skinner. The defense has struggled along with the supporting cast.

They’ve gone from being first in their division to being out of playoff position at the present time. Can the Oilers recover? They’ll have to acquire a goalie. What will veteran GM Ken Holland do between now and March 21? Will coach Dave Tippett hang onto his job if they keep losing games? The Oilers have been very patient so far. Is their patience running out?

Making the postseason is a must for the franchise. They can’t waste another year of McDavid and Draisaitl, who both got off to unbelievable starts. Of course, they rank among the leaders in scoring with Draisaitl and McDavid trailing the ageless Alex Ovechkin for the league lead. Jonathan Huberdeau has caught McDavid with a torrid stretch. Each are tied for third with 53 points.

Does Edmonton have enough to make the playoffs? They added former Maple Leaf forward Zach Hyman. After a good start, he’d struggled mightily. Following Draisaitl and McDavid in team scoring are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi. The rest of the secondary scoring is mind numbing.

They do have three defensemen capable of contributing including Evan Bouchard, Darnell Nurse and veteran Tyson Barrie. However, team defense is an issue along with stopping pucks. They’ll go as far as McDavid and Draisaitl take them. Expect them to get hot again. They’re too dominant not to.

One wonders why the media in some markets feel they can ask whatever they want without any repercussion. If you saw the entire clip between Matheson and Draisaitl, then you will understand what I mean. It didn’t start out badly. But the entitled Matheson pushed the issue. He got what he deserved.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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2 Responses to Draisaitl gets into it with reporter, flashbacks to Tortorella vs Brooks, Oilers issues

  1. hasan4978 says:

    Torts and Brooks literally flashed through my mind with this too. I actually blame the reporter more in this case, he was clearly trying to bait the guy, it worked enough for him to put on his sanctimonious hat. I would kill for ANY accountability from the media with the Devils right now, but we have too little and Canadian reporters go too far the other way and try to make themselves the story.


    • Derek Felix says:

      What you put up on the Devils is true. That was the Rangers the last 3 years. No accountability. And zero grit. You gotta have that. Reporters who get like that should be home. There’s no reason for it.


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