Is it a newspaper’s job to report on the news or make new news for others to report on? The Chicago Tribune tested those waters on Tuesday.
The Blackhawks’ game 5 victory over the Flyers last Sunday put Chicago one win away from its first Stanley Cup since the 1961 season. Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger had a forgettable performance, sporting a minus-5 mark in Chicago’s 7-4 victory.
That’s when the Tribune threw its name in the game with a special Tuesday morning poster of Pronger in a skirt and his Flyers jersey. The special pullout read: “Chrissy Pronger — Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane.”
Pronger gave little breath to the newspaper’s decision at Tuesday’s media activities in Philadelphia: “I don’t read what you guys write. Good or bad,” Pronger said. But the poster certainly turned the heads of several readers, including three-time Olympic women’s hockey gold medalist Angela Ruggiero.
“I’d like to see that editor out on skates,” Ruggiero told the AP. “I’ll take them one-on-one on the ice any day.”
While Tribune sports editor Mike Kellams has yet to make his debut on the ice, he was open both answering Ruggiero’s objections and explaining the paper’s thinking behind the poster.
“For her and others who took offense, I apologize. No qualifiers, I’m sorry,” said Kellams to ESPN. “We were just having a little fun with a guy who has come to personify all that has gotten under the collective skin of Blackhawks fans. Pronger is talented that way. And we were trying to connect to that emotion in a fun way.”
Did it cloud the line between fun and scripted? Either way, the perceived importance of that poster won’t be fully learned until a series winner emerges.