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July 14, 2005

Jeremy Roenick


Q. Well, let's just start with the news today, your reaction to the agreement.

JEREMY ROENICK: I think it's great. And I think it's great in a lot of different areas because I really feel that we have to get a deal done now to start getting everybody excited. I talked a few weeks back that it was important that we did this as soon as possible so people can start learning the new rules and people start getting energized for a new season and we get the new kids, like the Sydney Crosbys into the game and start without missing another day of our league.

And it goes on to the fact where it doesn't matter who wins or loses at this point, because as players and as owners, we are all losers in the way that we have lost a year; and it's important to get the game back on the ice now and back for the fans and back for the just overall good of the game; and make let's make it for fun to come watch and forget about this past year.

Q. What do you know about the agreement?

JEREMY ROENICK: Well, I know it's not good for the players; I know that. I know we have a very limited, limited cap that we have to work under, a drastic cry from what we've had for the last ten years, but I think it's a deal that's going to at the point help the smaller market teams make a lot of money; especially the large market teams are just going to make a killing because of this new deal. There is going to be a little bit of sharing from what I understand.

I don't know how much or how it's going to work, but I think because of the deal we're going to be more of partners for that matter. Players are going to take a big hit because of there are not going to be $8, $9 million deals, $7, $8 million deals which is bad for the guys that are coming up. But we've had a good ten year run and it's time to put it on a better playing field, make the game more fun for people to calm watch.

Q. What was your first reaction to the news today? Were you ecstatic?

JEREMY ROENICK: I was more ecstatic only because I was around a lot of people on the golf course. And as I heard it, they heard it, and I can see the expression on the people's faces as I went around the golf course. You know, the fans of the game, "When are we are going it get it done?"

"Well, we got it done today. I can see their face light up. So I was excited because I saw the excitement on the fans, not so much myself.

I'm not happy about the deal, period, logistics of the deal. I think the players are getting really gave a tremendous, a tremendous amount back to do this deal, more than any organization has ever given. We've given up more than anybody has ever given. I think that shows what kind of people that the National Hockey League players are.

Q. So you learned about it on golf courses today?

JEREMY ROENICK: On the golf course, yeah. My phone was ringing off the hook today. Every time on had I backswing my phone went off, I was like oh, my gosh. I was on four radio stations during my round today. It's pretty interesting.

Q. But you shot a 66.

JEREMY ROENICK: I did. I shot a 66 today, yeah. Shot 66. I had three eagles today, so I guess I was in a good mood today.

Q. Must have been in a good mood then.

JEREMY ROENICK: I was in a very good mood today. I guess a big weight has been lifted off of a lot of people's shoulders, and it's time to heal the wounds of the National Hockey League, not make more.

Q. Obviously during the lockout period, any sport takes a PR hit, do you think hockey is in the same situation? What are the players trying to do to make the game a lot more enjoyable now?

JEREMY ROENICK: Well, I hope, and I really cross my fingers that the league comes back and realizes that it has to do more marketing to reach out for the every day fan. Not the hard core fan, not the fan that's going to be there game in and game out or the one that runs around with their faces painted and shirts on every day; but the fan that's going to go maybe 20 times a year and maybe the guys, the people that really bring our game to the exciting level when you're in the building. Bring the players closer to the fan, get them more involved.

I hope that they would make it a little bit more affordable for the fan. Players took a huge hit in salaries; there's no reason why the owners can't take a little bit of hit in ticket prices. We have to make it better for the fans, not only in their pocketbook, but in their eyes and in their experience.

Q. Do you expect inaudible?

JEREMY ROENICK: I really think that they are going to be elated, jumping for joy. I saw a lot of them today. I'm sure the hard core fan has thanked God that they saved their season tickets for the past year and really took a hit over a 16 month period to keep their season tickets, knowing that they are going to get a better product when we get back on to the ice. I hope as a whole, they see that, because the coaches who are defensive oriented and who are trap oriented take this opportunity to throw that right out of the arenas.

I saw one of the best quotes I ever saw from Brian Burke out in Anaheim, he said, he mentioned his coach leaving Anaheim and praised him for his ability to coach defensively, but that's not what he wants on his hockey team. He wants an offensive, high energy, fun game to watch, and he's into it for the entertainment. So I thought that was just an absolute that's how I think; I hope everybody feels the same way that Burke feels in Anaheim that it's about offense, scoring goals and making it an entertainment thing, not let's see who is the best defensive coach. Let's win Stanley Cups on offense now instead of defense for once in a while.

Q. Your comments a couple of weeks ago, you were clearly pretty frustrated, do you look back at that now with any regret?

JEREMY ROENICK: No, I don't look at my comments a couple of weeks ago with any regret. I probably could have worded it differently. There's no question my wording was very strong.

I stand behind the quotes that I made, but I really what I'm most disappointed about is the lack of respect by the media, the lack of respect by the people who really did me an injustice. And what I mean by doing me an injustice is because the people didn't see the question that was asked of me. People didn't see the 14 minutes of where I actually was talking about how we have to make this all better for the fans. And ESPN and a bunch of other companies made it look like I was attacking the fans, and to me, that is a total look of respect for, A, for myself, for what I've done for 17 years; a total lack of respect for professionalism; and a total lack of respect for me as an athlete who goes out and tries to help the media every single day that I'm in the arena. They took advantage of a situation and didn't, they very, very few media people or very, very few media organizations two weeks ago did not represent me at all, because they didn't say the question.

I'm going to tell you what the question was that was asked of me. After I went for 14 minutes how we've got to get this game back on the ice and make it better for the fans, more affordable for the fans, do it for the fans and the game, the question was asked to me: What about the fans that are not going to come back; what about the fans who don't want to come back to watch you guys play; what about the fans who think it's the players' fault for being greedy; that it's your fault that you missed the whole year, okay. The question to me was: What about the fan who does not want to come back to watch a National Hockey League game?

And that's going to hit me right in the heart and I'm going to take serious consideration and offense to that, and I will go off and I will say the same thing to any fan who does not want to come watch, in my opinion, the best sport in the world, the best sport in the world, with the nicest, most approachable, friendliest athletes in the world. I will take offense and I will continue to take offense until I'm six feet under I'm not done yet. I will do it, and it's amazing to me, to get ratings, to get people to read newspapers, to cause controversy, that the media only plays the bad things that come out of somebody's mouth. But if something bad comes out, at least they should know the whole story.

And I was totally misrepresented. I was totally misunderstood, and it disgusts me to this point because I've had a lot of positive press, but the every day fan out there who does not know the real story, on the Web sites, on the Internet, I'm getting beat up. But that's okay, because the people that come in contact with me, the people that know me, the people that meet me, the people that know what Jeremy Roenick's really about, those are the people that I really care about. Those are the people that will know the real story, they will know the real truth and they know how I feel about, A, the game, A, the fans, and B, about what it takes to be a professional athlete.

So that being said, I will stick behind the words that I said, but it's unfortunate that the fans do not get the full picture when the media wants to cause a controversy. And they wanted to cause a controversy, period. It's unfortunate. I was the butt of it. But anybody who meets me, from 17 years ago to today, knows that I love the game and I love the fans and I will respect that forever.

Q. ESPN admitted that they went over the top on that story and it's on ESPN.com today, I know it's too late, but

JEREMY ROENICK: You know, to me, I don't care if it's too late. Because the fact that they would come out and say that they misrepresented me or they did go over the top and did not tell the full story, regardless whether the damage is done, that makes me feel really good. It really makes me feel very satisfied.

I'll deal with any kind of criticism that I'll get. I'm a big boy, 35 years old, but I'll probably be working for ESPN in my lifetime here when I'm done. I want to make sure that, you know, I don't burn too many bridges, but it is good that they acknowledged that they misrepresented, no question.

Thank you for telling me that, though. They can all kiss my ass, anyways (laughter). It's all good just kidding, just kidding. (Laughter.) Actually I'm patenting the shirt right now, you guys have got to see it.

Q. What are the lessons learned through the whole thing, 300 days?

JEREMY ROENICK: Lesson learned?

Q. The players, owners?

JEREMY ROENICK: A lightweight can't beat a heavyweight when the heavyweight really wants to kick your ass. That's probably the best analogy that I can give, because the Players Association was fighting against a huge animal that was not going to be beaten. And granted, I understand, and I've never held a grudge against the only owners for locking us out, because I realized throughout the long period that they have lost a lot of money. It's unfortunate that it had to come to the point where it is. We could have signed this deal last September and played.

But they were in it for the long haul, and I realized that last February when I got into trouble for saying we should have signed that deal in February, which we should have. And now we've got to settle for something that's a lot less. But like I said, the important thing, it's not about who wins or loses; it's about everybody is more on an even playing surface, and we've got to make if more fun for the fans to come watch, period.

Q. Can the patient be saved after all this?

JEREMY ROENICK: I think the patient has just come out of a coma, and it's got a smile on its face and it definitely has its wounds. He's got to do some rehab. But I think the patient is going to walk again, for sure.

Q. Got another 66 in your bag this week?

JEREMY ROENICK: I've got a couple more 66s.

Q. You said, you told us what the owners have to do, what do the players have to do?

JEREMY ROENICK: You know, I'm going to be flat out honest with you. Me, personally, I don't have to do a damn thing more to tell you the truth. Because every day that I wake up and go to the rink, I sign autographs, I go on the ice and I make sure that I acknowledge the fans. I throw pucks to the fans. I sign every autograph that is in front of me. I try to entertain the people.

To me, it cannot be so much of a business that you put the blinders on and you go to the rink and you don't see what's outside of you. Yes, it's a game, but when the whistle blows, and in between the whistles, you play your game. When the whistles are not going, you have to entertain. You have to play to the fans, you have to be ridiculous and you have to be funny and you have to give the fan experience something to grasp onto. Because if you look at a fan and they wave to you and you turn the other cheek or you don't acknowledge that, that's the day where they are like, why am I coming here, because it's not hard. It's not hard when someone smiles, waves or gives you a little bit of attention to wave back, to wink, to acknowledge that you know that they are there, okay. That for a fan is huge. For a professional athlete or a celebrity athlete or celebrity, period, to acknowledge somebody in any form of way, makes a difference.

And we all have to do it. I don't care how big you are, I don't care how much money you make, a wave, a handshake, a smile, anything, makes a huge difference. Everybody has got to, because the day that somebody turns their back on me, is the day that I will never watch that person again. To me I think hockey players are the best. I think they are the best at it and we have to do more of it.

Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts.

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