Talking with Tom Gulitti: Part 1

Tom Gulitti Tom Gulitti is a reporter for The Record and many of you know him for his blog on NorthJersey.com, “Fire & Ice”  and/or follow him on Twitter (@TGfireandice).  Tom took time out of his schedule to answer questions from you, the fans and on behalf of the Devils Generals I want to thank Tom Gulitti for his time. We appreciate you doing this for us.

We would also like to thank all the fans that submitted questions.  There were quite a few of you who sent in multiple questions and all were answered.  Please know that I did not alter any of your questions. These are the questions you asked and here are your answers!

Please enjoy Part 1 of this series and Part 2 will follow shortly.

Q: Do you know about the Devils Generals program?  What do you think about it and how do you think they can get the program to grow? (Jaime G.)

A: I know the Devils Generals work with Mission Control. I think it’s admirable that the Devils are trying to reach out more to the fans and get them involved. Anything like that can only be good for the organization.

Is there more that the Generals do? Maybe it would be helpful if you explain exactly how Mission Control works. My general understanding is that you guys just look for information on the internet concerning the Devils and pass it along.

*CJ225DEVS: Tom – here’s a brief explanation about the program: Our goal is to interact with the fans. While we do look for all relevant Devils info and pass it along to everyone to try to make us a one-stop shop for all Devils news and info, we are also working with the team and on our own to come up with events (we’ve already held quite a few), contests, giveaways and other fun things to keep fans involved, make it easier for them to interact with the team, and give them what we ourselves, the fans, all want in return. (Brief thank you to Carlos for helping me on this).

Q: What is it like traveling with the team?  How much actual interface time do you have with the organization aside from post game interviews. (Richer’s Ghost)

A: I do not travel “with the team” in that I book my own flights, fly separately and usually stay at different hotels on the road (the Devils travel on a charter plane), so I can’t tell you much about what their travel is like. But I’m at pretty much every practice and morning skate in addition to the postgame interaction. The time after practices and morning skates is usually good for talking informally with the players and getting to know them better. There isn’t much interaction away from the rink.

Q: Is there ever any news or information that you come across which you do not report on your blog or twitter? Of course, I mean important information. Maybe the team tells you something, but off the record? (tpiska)

A: There are some things that all reporters are told off the record, yes. Sometimes it’s helpful to know for background or future reference, though you can’t report it at the time.

Q: How many hours do you spend on the road vs. hours watching/observing the team practice & play vs. hours interfacing vs. hours writing and then compare that to what it takes 3 minutes to read his column. (Richer’s Ghost)

A: That’s a tough question. There is a lot of time every day, but I don’t know if I can give you a total number of hours. On a typical home game day, I’m usually at Prudential Center from 10 a.m. or so to about midnight. I’ll stay at the arena between the morning skate and the game most of the time because it’s not worth driving home and coming back again after I’m done blogging following the morning skate.

On a practice day, if practice is scheduled for 11 a.m., I’m usually there a little after 10:30 unless there is traffic or something because most of the time they start 10 or 15 minutes early. I’ll then blog at the arena for a couple of hours following practice and then go home to write my article for the newspaper.

Q: Looking back, what are your thoughts and feelings on the “Summer of Kovy”? Was it your busiest off-season since you began covering the Devils, and are you dreading that the “Summer of Zach” will be the same? (Omair T.)

A: I don’t think the situation with Zach Parise will carry on as long as Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract drama did. There were several different factors that contributed to that. One of them was that Kovalchuk didn’t want to negotiate with the Devils before July 1, which was his right as an unrestricted free agent. Then, he took until July 19 to actually sign the contract that was rejected, while all of the other big-name free agents were signed on July 1 or 2. Once the first contract was rejected, that took it to another level I don’t think any of us who cover the NHL in the media have experienced. I learned a lot about the collective bargaining agreement. It would have been helpful to have been a lawyer rather than just a sports reporter.

Q: What was it like going from fan of a sport to someone inside locker rooms engaging with players? (TalkingRed)

A: I was a big hockey fan before I got this job, but I think because I gradually worked my way into the newspaper business by covering high school and college sports it didn’t seem like that big of a deal when I stepped up to covering pro sports. And because pro athletes are used to dealing with the media, it was actually easier than covering high school athletes, who often don’t have a lot to say. I definitely appreciated the big moments like covering the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time or going to the Olympics in 2002. I remember being at the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver and thinking, “Am I really here?”

Q: We all know where you stand on the Chris Botta situation, but what are your thoughts on bloggers in general? Do you believe they should be given the same access as journalists such as yourself? (Omair T.)

A: The subject of bloggers in general is a tricky one. I do not believe anyone who starts a blog should be given access. I think the person should have to be at least affiliated with a reputable news organization that has an editorial level and ethical standards that must followed. Too many bloggers just write what they want without any factual basis and do not care about the consequences. But that’s not something I get to decide. It’s up to the teams themselves and the NHL.

My stance on the Chris Botta situation was only that a member of the media who was credentialed had his credential revoked without explanation. There needs to be at least some explanation.

Q: What do you think about the comments you receive on your blog? (Anthony S.)

A: I think it’s great that so many fans like to come to the blog to comment and talk with each other and me sometimes.

Q: Rich Chere and yourself do a good job of staying objective, but with the advent of Twitter and other social media platforms, it appears that more and more media members around the NHL show somewhat of an allegiance to the team they’re covering. Do you agree with this assessment? (Omair T.)

A: I don’t know that reporters show an allegiance to a team. I think all of us in general are sensitive when someone who doesn’t cover the team writes something about the organization or a player we cover that isn’t true. In that case, we feel a kind of responsibility to correct the error.

Q: What do you think about the Devils possibly taking Zach to arbitration instead of signing him long term? (Bill W.)

A: I think I commented on this on the blog. I think the Devils would only take Parise to arbitration to protect themselves if there’s no deal done by mid-June. If they make every effort to sign him before then and can’t get a long-term deal done, they would be foolish not to file for team-elected arbitration. Otherwise, Parise would be able to field offer sheets from other teams on July 1 and they don’t want that to happen. Even if they file for team-elected arbitration, the sides can still negotiate a contract right up until when the arbitrator issues his/her ruling.

As for Parise being upset, it’s something they have to think about. It’s a part of the business, though, just like when the player files for arbitration.

Q: I remember you raving about burgers you had in Columbus, what are your top 3 NHL City food spots? (TalkingRed)

A: The restaurant with the burger you are talking about is the Thurman Café, which is in the German Village section of Columbus. I went there in 2009, but didn’t have time to go there this season when the Devils played in Columbus. There’s another great place in Columbus called the Tip Top Kitchen that has a fabulous pot roast.

Picking a top three is difficult. Three of my favorites are:

-The Rustic Inn, Fort Lauderdale: Great seafood and you can sit outside by the water. It’s in Fort Lauderdale, so that gives it an unfair advantage over the other places no matter how good the food is.

-Original Oyster House, Pittsburgh: I always order the fish sandwich, which is about twice the size of the bun. For the most part, I’ve cut snack foods like potato chips out of my diet, but I make an exception here because they make their own and they are the best I’ve ever had.

-Jack’s Bar-B-Que, Nashville: Predators GM David Poile recommended it. Excellent.

*CJ225DEVS: I have personally been to Thurman’s Café while seeing the Devils play in Columbus.  I can confirm that the burgers are absolutely amazing!

100_3287 100_3295

Q: Best arenas for press box views? (TalkingRed)

A: Unfortunately, each new arena puts the press box farther from the ice. The best press box view now – though the arena is obviously run down – is at Nassau Coliseum. You are closest to the ice with a good view of the entire surface.

Madison Square Garden’s press box, which was over the Zamboni entrance to the ice, gave a great down-low view of that end of the ice, but it was difficult to see the other end of the rink. That press box will be gone next season, though, as part of the Garden renovations this summer.

The Meadowlands had the best press box. It was in middle of the lower level seats. Prudential Center’s press box is the farthest from the ice in the NHL.

Q: It seems like over the last few years it’s gone from online blog blow up, to constant updates through twitter, what’s next for you? Maybe online live chats? (TalkingRed)

A: I try to answer questions whenever I can on the blog and on Twitter, so I don’t think there’s a need for live chats. I’d like people to think they can ask me a question any time not just for a limited period once a week or so.

The next step? Northjersey.com is working on iPhone/iPad app for the Fire and Ice blog that, hopefully, will be ready for the start of next season.

Q: The Carolina Hurricanes’ press meal seems to have a legendary status among media members and PR staff. Is it really as great as it’s cracked up to be? Do they really have a soft serve ice cream machine with a topping station? Do you think acquiring a soft serve ice cream machine can help take some of the heat off the Devils (figuratively speaking)? (That last question is only semi-serious). (Omair T.)

A: I would love it if there was a soft serve ice cream machine for the media at Prudential Center, but I would probably end up weighing 300 pounds. I think the machine in Carolina is frozen yogurt. The barbeque there is really good, but I only go there twice a year. The good thing for the people who are there for all 41 Hurricanes’ home games is they usually offer some other main courses, including a carving station with roast beef or something like that.

Carolina definitely has among the best media meals.

Q: Does following a team with a smaller group of NHL credentialed journalists make your job easier or harder? (TalkingRed)

A: There used to be a lot more reporters who covered the Devils and traveled to road games. I don’t think it’s gotten any easier or harder as the numbers have dwindled. I used to like having more reporters around.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this series coming up soon!

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Posted on May 20, 2011, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL, Prudential Center, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. CowbellSteve

    Way to follow up on this article CJ! Love the pictures from Thumans too.

  2. Love it. Thanks to TG for doing this! :D Can’t wait for part 2!

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