The conversation began on a serious note – the use of prescription drugs in the NHL – and ended almost six minutes later with Wayne Gretzky telling stories about exhibition games in San Antonio, Texas.
No one will accuse Gretzky’s Turner Sports NHL studio team Anson Carter, Paul Bissonnette and Rick Tocchet, with host Liam McHugh, of being uninteresting.
What may have been a segment during a break Tuesday or Thursday evening this NHL season set an example of the breadth of their knowledge and potential for the team, which will draw natural comparisons with the iconic network studio “Within the NBA “show.
“There really aren’t that many topics that will be off topic for us,” Carter said. “If it’s debatable, we will address it. We are not looking for it, but we are not running away from it either.”
Tocchet kicked off the drug conversation — prompted by comments made by Vegas Golden Knights goalkeeper Robin Lehner on Twitter over the weekend — saying he had never seen a team force a player to take medication during his 18-year career. game or in its many years. behind the bench as a coach.
“As a player, you’s responsible for your body,” Carter said.
Carter’s affair with Lehner’s comments came from the call of Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault; Vigneault has denied any wrongdoing, and Lehner returned the comments earlier this week.
“Because he put it in that box without saying exactly what AV did,” he said.
Bissonnette, a former NHL presenter and co-host of the “Spittin ‘Chiclets” podcast on Barstool Sports, said the language barrier for Lehner may have been a factor. He entered into his personal experience of describing Percocet after wrist surgery. Bissonnette said he did not finish the bottle because of the changes in his body he experienced, but that was his decision.
“At some point, you have to take responsibility for what you have been given,” he said.
Lehner noted Ambien sleep aid as a source of his mental health efforts; Bissonnette said he needed to sleep because of the intensity he requires hockey late at night.
“I had to monitor it myself,” Bissonnette said. “Summer is very difficult. Some of these players are very young. I hope the consequences of abusing these kinds of things are explained to them, but overall, my personal experience, I have always been very careful when I was in the National Hockey League. “
The conversation turned back to “The Great.” Gretzky commented on advances in sports medicine in his gaming days and told about the treatment he received before expanding his figure in fame and pressure.
“In those days, they would tell you to go home, take two aspirins, get a good night’s sleep,” he said. “Tomorrow we’re going to do it on skates and sweat for an hour and a half. But that ‘s the way we looked at it, right?
“Listen, professional athletes make a lot of money and they deserve every penny they get. But there is a lot of stress and pressure associated with what I think many times the average fan does not really know or understand. “
Bissonnette used it as an opportunity to compare shock testing in the American Hockey League early in his career to 10 years later, when many more precautions had been put in place.
Eventually, the conversation shifted to league friendship and the number of exhibition games. Gretzky and Tocchet started playing in places like Texas. “I think part of it is Robin Lehner being able to talk about it,” said McHugh, the former host of the NBC hockey studio who noted that he feels more freedom to go beyond strategy on ice on a new grid. “I know there’s a problem with (the Vigneault call), but he pulled away from it, and I think it’s good that you empower people to talk, to ask questions.”
To be the best, the Turner crew knows they have to follow the same plan, talking and asking questions.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.