Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dubinsky's interviews tell the story

Gallos ably summarizes last night's interpretative hockey-ish performance by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and I pretty much agree with everything he says, so I won't belabor his points.

Instead, I'm going to focus on something that really caught my eye: Brandon Dubinsky's post-game interview on FOX Sports Ohio's "Blue Jackets Live Postgame".  Dubinsky appears to be widely acknowledged as the team's de facto captain, so I take his comments very seriously and appreciate that FSO makes a point of including him in the postgame interviews.  Not only is he an articulate, quotable guy, but his position within the locker room gives me a bit of a barometer sense as to the roster itself.

Brandon Dubinsky's interviews have proven to be "the tell"
as to where the Blue Jackets' collective head is at this season.
If you didn't know, I'm married to a lawyer - one who spends most of her time in litigation matters.  (Litigation, for those who don't know, is the art of actually trying a case, in a courtroom, in front of a judge and.sometimes a jury.)  She's rather good at her craft.  One of the things she's done over the years is develop an insight into human behavior in interview situations.  Whether a potential juror getting screened as to their fitness to sit on a jury or whether a witness on the stand, she looks for cues and hints from voice, body language and eye movement as to what the person is really thinking when they're saying something.  As in, "He's saying that he firmly believes the defendant was in the wrong but can't stop looking at his shoes.  Either he's scared, shy or lying through his teeth."  That type of stuff.  It's a fascinating field of study, one that often makes me think she's looking deep into my soul when I'm sugar-coating how a rough day was.

Beyond that, I personally was in the public eye for quite a while and picked up some tips about public speaking - both to groups and on camera.  For example, I got the "sit on your jacket to fix your posture" tip from "Broadcast News".  That's a classic (and a great movie with the worst example of on-camera flop sweat ever by Albert Brooks).

I also learned that some people have an inherent tendency to try to "write out" their words on imaginary paper with their eyes before saying them.  This is especially true in interviews, where people have to measure their words very carefully to avoid being misquoted.  Really good interviewees can rise above this and, figuratively, walk and chew gum at the same time.

Another good tip for those who are "writing" with their eyes is to consciously stop doing that and look at the interviewer when emphasizing a point.  The photo above is a great example: Dubinsky, with a mike in his face, is looking right at his interviewer.  You have to figure that he's either bluffing like a Las Vegas pro, or he actually believes what he's saying.  Considering that he's probably exhausted from 60 minutes of hockey, I'd guess he doesn't have the energy for the I'll go with the latter.

As I said, the Dubinsky interviews are telling the story for me.  To start, let's take a look at a couple past postgame interviews, both after CBJ victories.  You'd think that Dubinsky would be loosest and most confident after a win, so I'll use these interviews to illustrate the basics of his speaking style:

FIRST: Vancouver.  October 20, 2013, CBJ won by a score of 3-1.  In front of a home crowd.  Let the good times roll.

SECOND: Toronto.  October 25, 2013.  Perhaps the best CBJ win of the season thus far, the CBJ blasted the Leafs, 5-2.  This is a FOX Sports Ohio postgame standup interview with Dave Maetzold, so keep in mind that we're looking at a one-on-one interview and not Dubinsky talking to a media scrum.

Dubinsky is most definitely a "writer", wouldn't you say?  I'll chalk it up to being in the New York media market, where individual syllables are sliced and diced like we in Ohio can't comprehend.  But he still lifts his eyes up from his imaginary paper to talk directly at the interviewer, is able to crack a smile and even chuckle a little.  Most notable to me is the captain-speak at the end of the Maetzold interview...he's clearly talking from the script, but his eye contact with Dave is much stronger than in the rest of the interview.

Then the slump started.  As I mentioned in a past blog post, I didn't get to hear or see Dubinsky after the Pittsburgh games.  (Honestly, I don't even know if he was interviewed postgame.  While FSO uses his comments more often than not, it's not blanket coverage.)

Dubinsky was interviewed in the locker room, however, after the Ottawa game last night.  I so wish that someone posted that video, but it wasn't meant to be.  I've seen Dubinsky after a loss, and he's about as close to unvarnished as anyone outside of Vinny Prospal.

Hey, wait, Vinny Prospal?  Let's see how Vinny handled the media after a January win over Dallas:

A little bit of sentence conjugating, but a whole lot more eye contact and actual dialogue with the interviewers as opposed to just answering questions.  I'll chalk that up to age, experience and perhaps maturity.  He's been through the rodeo a few times already.

But I digress.  Back to Dubinsky and last night.

As I said, nobody has (as of yet) posted the Dubinsky post-game interview that was aired on FSO's "Blue Jackets Live Postgame".  I've seen him in the past after a loss where he's not happy and says the angry captain words, like this transcription from the Dispatch's Shawn Mitchell:
That was following a loss to the Penguins.  Last night, however, Dubinsky didn't use those words.  He used team-building words.  The guys are trying hard.  They're giving it their all.  The pucks aren't going in.  Everyone needs to stick to the game plan and the wins will come if everyone does their job.  That type of stuff.  Here's a direct quote from the Dispatch's Aaron Portzline:
“We have to stay upbeat,” Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said. “Nobody’s going to go out there and do it for us besides the 23 guys in this (dressing) room. We have to trust each other and believe in each other and come to work with a good attitude and try to get better.”
 OK, I get it.  The team's in a slump, and you can only flog the horse with angry captain talk so many times before the horse collapses.  So it's "pump up the team" time in the locker room.  All for one, one for all.  Keep trying.  That stuff.  We've all heard it.  I'm not thrilled to hear it in early November, but it is what it is.

Here's the catch.  Dubinsky's eyes were flying back and forth from his imaginary paper to the interviewer.  A mile a minute.  Was it raw anger?  Was it panic?  I have no idea, and I'll presume that he meant what he said because it was so innocuous, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't stifling a lot of "something elses" along the way.  But I was so taken in by his nonverbal display that I was compelled to blog about it over 12 hours later.

If I had to guess, our presumptive captain is one highly ticked off individual.  Considering the recent play of the team and the fact that they're falling further and further behind the conference standings leaders, that's a very good thing.  This team needs to get back on the right track, and quick.

I'm going to keep watching for the Dubinsky postgame interviews...and will be very, very concerned when he combines the happy talk with his happy interview style...or the "staring at the shoes" approach.  That, to me, will be a "tell" that he and his locker room has given up.  Until then, however, I'm going to stay reasonably hopeful that the team has it in them to pull themselves out of this early season hole.

1 comment:

  1. Great observations and background. I suppose there may be a few individuals that will give up, but there a lot of them who won't. I think Foligno will be the spark tonite.[Spark is not necessary a point even] I'm betting CBJ over Rangers


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