A few weeks ago, I interviewed former DP sports editor Jesse Spector about his time at Penn along with his thoughts on the ongoing NHL lockout. Spector also talked about his attempt to buy MLB’s Montreal Expos in 2002 and the national attention he received because of it. Below are more excerpts from our wide-ranging conversation.
On the timing of the NHL’s offer of a 50/50 split in Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) from mid-October:
Spector: I think it is really what the NHL was after all along, a 50/50 split. I think it was a proposal designed both to get negotiations going and to change the conversation after the news came out that the NHL was doing focus groups, not that it’s such a bad thing that a multi-million dollar corporation to be doing focus groups. But the way it was slanted PR-wise was that the NHL, instead of negotiating, was diddling around, trying to massage their message while getting [Political consultant and Penn graduate] Frank Luntz involved.
On the NHLPA and public reaction to the offer:
Spector: I think the NHLPA was surprised to receive an offer. I think everyone in hockey was surprised that the owners made an offer. [The owners] have been saying all along that they were waiting for the NHLPA to make the next offer and then they come out with an offer that has the appearance of being reasonable. Obviously, to anyone that’s ever been in kindergarten, 50/50 sounds pretty good and that is what the NHL is really banking on.
On his feelings about the lockout:
Spector: I’m not the most overly optimistic person in the world right now, which is a change from over the summer when I was very optimistic. I didn’t think that there would be a way that the two sides would be dumb enough to get to a lockout. It turns out they were and here we are.”
On his feelings about Twitter:
Spector: People are consuming their news now in different ways and a lot of that means up to the second, and that means social media and 140 character bursts on Twitter. The other thing about Twitter is that it’s not just me reporting the news. It is me being able to say whatever I want to say about life in general. People know from Twitter I’m not just another voice in the crowd for the NHL. I’m also someone who likes European soccer, who takes a real strong interest in politics, and who talks about other sports in North America.
On the progression of the Montreal Expos story:
Spector: It really has [Daily Pennsylvanian] ties. It didn’t really become a big story until it was on ESPN.com and the reason it was on ESPN.com was that as a member of DP Sports, I was part of a rotisserie fantasy baseball league and I was the youngest one in it, being a senior at the time. The rest were all alumni and one of the other members was [New York Times reporter] Alan Schwarz, who at that point was writing for ESPN.com. It’s a very Penn story top to bottom.
On his favorite game he covered at Penn:
Spector: It was a Penn-Brown football game and the back page headline was “The Impossible has Happened”. It was just this ridiculous comeback and the final score was 38-35. Franklin Field was more full that usual at the start but most people left because Penn was down by so much. It was just surreal watching that game because it was two offenses who could not be stopped. I have not been to a lot of football games. I mostly watch football games on TV because it is better that way but that was a football game I was glad to be at because that was nuts.”