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Silver Seven Sens Interview: James Duthie

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The long-time TSN host answered a few questions for us

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After a little delay, S7S Interview is back with one of the best in the business: James Duthie. Make sure to take a look back at our old interviews with Ken Warren and Bruce Garrioch while you're at it. Have someone you'd like to see interviewed? Let us know in the comments!

S7S: First things first: are you wearing your rubber boots?
JD: Yes.  Purple ones.

S7S: As someone who grew up in Ottawa, did you ever expect there'd be an NHL team in the city?

JD: Probably not.  I don't remember thinking about it much.  I have this vague memory of a WHA team playing a game or two in Ottawa?  Did I dream this?  Should probably Google it.  But that felt like a huge deal, so I guess I never reallyeven dared to dream of an NHL team.

S7S: I can remember when for a little while you were writing a weekly article in the Ottawa Citizen. You've also written a few books. Are you happy that most of your work has ended up being in TV, or do you wish that you'd been able to do more writing?

JD: I love writing.  There is a permanence to it that TV doesn't have.  I never have someone come up to me and say, "That was a great panel you did during the Sens/Sabres game 6 years ago...but people remember columns that I sometimes don't even remember writing.  I feel like writing gives you a chance to create some tiny (mostly irrelevant) piece of art (*I am not calling myself an artist!).  I wish I could do more, but the TV sked, and a busy family life makes it difficult.  

S7S: At what point in your career did you have to give up loyalty to hockey teams? Or do you privately cheer for the Sens?

JD: Not sure when that happened...it happens naturally.  The job sucks the fan out of you.  You cheer for people you like instead of teams.  I truly have no personal rooting interest.  But my parents are diehard Sens fans, so I would love to see them win, just to give my folks a thrill.

S7S: You have become a very recognizable face, arguably more famous than most hockey players. Did you ever think that could happen? What are some of the benefits or drawbacks from becoming a celebrity?

JD: No way I ever thought that could happen.  It's ludicrous really.  I remember at a World Juniors in Buffalo, Bob and I were chatting with Kevin Lowe and a fairly large group of fans gathered, asking for photos.  They were all giving their cameras to Kevin Lowe to take the pics of Bob and me.  I felt so stupid.  This guy has a handful of Stanley Cup rings and they are ignoring him to get pics with us.  It's insane.  They aren't many drawbacks to being known in our country.  People are very nice.  Canadian sportscaster is about a Y on the A-Z celebrity scale, so paparazzi isn't a huge issue. 

S7S: There's been a lot of discussion recently in Ottawa about dealing with criticism on social media. It doesn't take very much work to find trolls who insult you every time you post anything on Twitter. How do you manage with that? Do you ever take any of the comments personally?

JD: I have gotten much better.  I hit the block button and move on.  I suppose I'm human and occasionally something will bother you.  But I fully realize you are never going to please everyone. Once you embrace that, you're good.

S7S: You've produced a number of funny segments for TSN, including a Hangover parody and one with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider joking about their battle to be the starting goalie. What's different about working on projects like those? What drives you to create segments like that? (I'm assuming it's a lot of work.)


JD: I love working on those bits.  Like the writing, I wish I had more time too.  It gets the creative juices flowing much more than my typical duties.  I like showing that athletes like Roberto do have great personalities, if you put them in the right situation to show that side.  I'm not sure where the ideas come from. I'm an idiot at heart.  I grew up with idiot friends who did idiot things.  Now I get paid to be an idiot.  It's a good life.  

S7S: Who have provided some of the best interviews you've done? What makes somebody a great interview?

JD: I am never good at answering this question.  Too many years and too many interviews have blurred my memory.  I think interviewing blunt, honest people.  Brian Burke is a favourite.  He stares me down and looks like he wants to punch me in the throat, but it's all an act really.  He's a softie.  And he's never dull.  

S7S: Working with insiders like Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun, are you ever surprised by how much they know about what's going on in the league?

JD: They don't surprise me anymore.  Those guys just work ridiculously hard at their job.  I could never do what they do. They make my job so easy by being so good.

S7S: There has been criticism of hockey media in general that there are very few women involved, and none used as analysts. Do you see that changing anytime soon?

JD: I would love to see that.  It is an old boy's network.  There is no doubt.  But I think smart, experienced people like Cassie and Tessa Bonhomme are changing attitudes.  But it's a slow process.  Too slow.

S7S: I think most Canadians still miss seeing Jay and Dan in the morning. What's one of your favourite memories of those two?

JD: I miss the way they would make me look a fool every morning.  Trade secret:  we often do a panel chat live after a game, and then it will air on all of the editions of Sportscentre.  That is why you will mostly see me say "Thank-you" at the beginning without mentioning anyone's name....so it can be used on all the shows by different anchors.  Well Jay and Dan knew this...so they would always intro me by saying something dumb that I should respond to...but never would because I had already done the segment on tape.  So Jay would say something ridiculous like, "Let's send it down to James Duthie...who once again tonight, is not wearing pants."  And then they would cut to me, on tape, serious face, saying, "Thank-you.  Impressive win by the Senators tonight..."   People could never understand why I didn't respond.  I miss that foolishness.

S7S: Sens fans get very frustrated that there's still a prevailing thought in the NHL that Erik Karlsson can't play defence. Do you think Karlsson is a defensive liability, or do you think he's the best example of being a defenceman in the new NHL?

JD: I think he might be the best player in the league.  He definitely not an amazing defensive defenceman.  But his offence is off the charts.  We have this argument all the time at work about the Norris, and does he deserve it.  I'm always on the yes side.  He's a unique talent.

S7S: What do you think is the biggest weakness with the 2015-16 Sens?

JD: overall team D

S7S: And lastly, which team do you think will win the Cup?

Washington.  But not a ton of confidence in that with the Blackhawks around.