Why Brad Marchand Bristled at One Question

Before you form an opinion on the matter, just keep this one question in mind when watching the following interview; “what is the point of the second question?” Ready? Let’s roll:

That is Kyle Bukauskas of Sportsnet asking Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins if he “managed to get his skate sharpened after Thursday.” The context for that question is Marchand’s response to snapping Cam Atkinson’s stick in Game One of the series.

As you can tell from Marchand’s one-word response and quick skate away, he was not at all pleased with Bukauskas’ query. Whether Marchand bristled at the timing (pregame skate) or the question itself, we will probably never know. We know he took umbrage to the question because here is how Marchand decided to conduct his post-series interview with Bukauskas after the Bruins dispatched of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This is baaaaaad interview. Especially from somebody that is usually good for some quality soundbites. However, Marchand rather petulantly gave the shortest possible answers and intentionally bombed that interview. You might not like Marchand doing this, but the reasoning for it is quite clear; he was getting back at Bukauskas for asking a bad and poorly timed question. And it was a bad and poorly timed question.

People like Greg Wyshynski and Lou Merloni were none too pleased with Marchand for his conduct in the post-game interview. They thought it was petty. It was clearly petty, but pettiness is something you can expect from Marchand or any. other. annoyed. athlete.

That is why asking good questions is so important. You can conduct a great interview, but ask one bad, stupid, or ill-timed question and it can ruin the interview. Not just for you, but for others as well… as Marchand proved in the media scrum after the game.

This is not to take any jabs at Bukauskas. Rather, that first thing he asked prior to Game Two was wonderful. He shied away from the dreaded, “talk about” or “tell me about,” demand of players and asked an insightful question. Not only that, but he prefaced it with a quote, which gave the subsequent query some gravitas and quickly pivoted to “what have you seen lately from No. 88?” That is a GREAT question and one that reveals why Sportsnet has no qualms going with the young broadcaster.

However, that second question was just stupid. It was stupid for three main reasons: there is no point to it, the timing could not have been worse (except for maybe during the game) and it was a risk without much reward.

Those defending the question are harping on Marchand’s attitude or reputation as a dirty player and pest. But those are reactions of fans (or fans turned journalists). His reputation as a player has no bearing whatsoever on the interview; if you are a sports broadcaster asking a question of a player, you have to respect that player.

This goes for players you might not respect, whether as players or people–you still have to respect them for taking their time to answer your questions–no matter how short the interview. And no, even if mandatory interviews are in their contracts, it is still a favor by the player. Asking a joke or cute question like that one just buries the credibility of the reporter. It is a rather telling revelation that the reporter is too comfortable and feels he can take liberties. The second you do that, interviews go south, just like this one did.

Bukauskas was poking fun at Marchand. There is no way to argue that point. Just as there is no way to argue Marchand took exception to it. You might think it was childish of Marchand to feel that way, but that is the truth. The question was more suitable for either a post-game interview or something on “Spittin Chiclets.” There is a time and a place for almost any question. That was not the time and not the place.

The timing was awful. Yes, Marchand has a history of solid quips and from time-to-time can get silly during interviews. However, despite his history of goofiness and colorful soundbites, a joke question prior to a playoff game is simply not the time for it.

Listen again to how he answers that first question. It is a terrific answer to a wonderful question. In those moments you can get some of the best answers because players are at their peak. Marchand is locked in during that interview, more than likely because he is finishing his preparation for the game or is already in game mode. Is that the appropriate time for a joke or cute question? What could Bukauskas possible have expected in response to that question?

It was obviously a joke meant to poke fun at Marchand. A guy who was gearing up to play a rather important game. So the risk of alienating the player there is massive and apparent. The best he could have hoped for was Marchand to laugh it off. From the reaction of the studio hosts, it is clear they thought it was funny. It is also clear Marchand did not.

Now Bukauskas is in the unenviable position of having angered or annoyed a player he more than likely wants to interview in the near future. That is exactly what occurred. And it was painful.

Sure, it got a laugh from the studio hosts and they got to make their own quips about blades and edges, but at what cost? Sportsnet, by way of Bukauskas, took a big shot with their rather unimportant pregame interview and left an entire wad of buckshot in their feet. By the time the fairly important post-series interview rolled around, those feet were bloody and Marchand tersely and gleefully ripped off the bandages.

From most accounts, Kyle Bukauskas is a “good dude.” He is definitely good at his job. You do not make it to his position at his age if you are subpar. Moreover, all of the other questions he asked during the series were really solid. From the first one in the pregame interview to all of the questions in the post-series interview.

However, he got too comfortable with Marchand and asked an inappropriate question at an inappropriate time. The ramifications were plain for the world to see; he got a dud of an interview and his one bad question adversely affected the rest of his colleagues hoping for quality answers from Marchand. This brings us back to the question that began the article, “what is the point?” If you as the interviewer cannot give a good answer, you might as well skip the question, cause otherwise, what is the point?