Alain Vigneault’s Comments Sparked Controversy, But Should They Have?

Earlier today, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault met with the media, leading to a quote that lit hockey Twitter on fire:

The issue with transcribing in real time is the potential loss of any nuance, tone, or context.

That led to responses like this, suggesting he wasn’t doing enough with his platform:

And responses like this, explaining that he’s just doing his job:

 

Let’s take a second to reflect. Here’s the full quote:

“Ever since we eliminated Montreal the only thing that’s been open in my room is my computer to hockey games. I’ve been trying to prepare my team the best way I can. We played yesterday. The only thing that was open in my room after the game was my computer to get our games ready. So, I haven’t really no idea what’s going on in the outside world. We’re in this bubble right now. I’m invested 24/7 on our team. I’m working 20 hours a day going through video and preparing our group. I don’t do Twitter.I haven’t read a sports article in I don’t know how long and I haven’t read any type of article in I don’t know how long. So, I guess I’m a hockey nerd and that’s what I’m doing right now.”

Now the full video:

 

I know that those looking for a quote that fully embraced fighting for social justice will see this as a dismissive slap in the face of progress being done. The quote wasn’t great. It’s also possible to consider that at the same time, he’s a hockey coach saying that he’s throwing himself into being a hockey coach with less than 24 hours to prepare from Game 2 to Game 3 in a knockout series. Could he have said more? Should he have? Perhaps.

Cherry-picking a tidbit of a quote on a topic this important is borderline slanderous. I also wonder whether or not he had been prepped by anyone from the organization ahead of time. Anyone who’s spent time around the organization and fans knows there’s a large, vocal contingent that leans in a way that might not fully fall in line with the notion of using sports boycotts to spread a message.

Perhaps Vigneault calculated that a non-answer would do less “damage” in the long-run than giving an answer that might have otherwise overextended what he was comfortable saying in the moment.

At the end of the day, Alain Vigneault is a white man from Quebec City, Canada, who’s likely never had to have these conversations in a meaningful private setting. He’s being asked to do so in public while tensions in the US are high, all while his professional responsibility is to prepare his team with little time to do so. Does he give a different response if there’s a day off between games? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps this was his effort to do his best. His best just might not have been enough.

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