Thursday, February 7, 2013

Boucher, Murray deny comments 2/7

Two members of the Adirondack Phantoms on Thursday denied they made the comments that a Binghamton newspaper attributed to them following the team's shutout loss Wednesday night.

A story appearing in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin included comments from Phantoms coach Terry Murray and goaltender Brian Boucher, though Murray did not speak to the media following the loss and Boucher said Thursday he did not speak to any reporter at the Civc Center Wednesday night.

"Whatever quote they made was made up," Boucher said, referring to the Press & Sun-Bulletin story.

In the original story, which has since been changed, Matt Weinstein quoted Murray as saying “That goalie of theirs is the best in the AHL and we couldn’t solve him tonight. I thought we did a lot of things well but in this game a hot goaltender can trump all of that.” Weinstein subsequently admitted the Murray quote was not from last night, but claimed it had been from one of his prior game stories.

However, there were numerous red flags that brought that statement into question. A Google search of the quote yielded no results other than Wednesday night's game story, and the Phantoms had never faced Binghamton's All-Star goalie, Robin Lehner prior to Wednesday.

The Senators started goalie Ben Bishop all three times against the Phantoms, and Murray said after Thursday's practice that he would never call Bishop the best goaltender in the AHL. Furthermore, Murray said he could not recall speaking to a reporter in Binghamton at any point this season.

Weinstein e-mailed The Saratogian and other local media a statement Thursday afternoon.

"I just wanted to say how truly embarrassed I am by the mistakes I made last night," Weinstein's statement reads in part. "I've spent 13 years covering amateur and professional sports and have never had anything like this happen to me. I would never attempt to fake a quote or put words into someone's mouth they didn't say and my work over the last decade shows that. When I prepare for a game, especially on the road, I copy all my previous stories and game notes into a text file so I have easy reference as I put my story together. I have talked to Murray earlier this season in Binghamton whether he remembers or not. It was a 5-2 game in Binghamton on Nov. 16."

But that Nov. 16 Binghamton game is regarded as one of the low points of Adirondack's season. The Phantoms followed it with another 5-2 loss in Syracuse the following day, and the lopsided back-to-back losses touched off their first three-game win streak of the year. A strong goaltending effort was not the prevailing reason the Phantoms lost, it was because they allowed five goals.

The Murray quote was not the only suspect one in the Press & Sun-Bulletin's report.

“I felt good but we just got shut down by a good goalie,” the Press & Sun-Bulletin quoted Boucher as saying Wednesday. “The key for us is to look at what we can do better and try to go from there.”

Boucher, who joined the Phantoms after the NHL lockout ended, would probably not have had a chance to speak to Weinstein in person prior to Wednesday's game. The Phantoms and Senators have not met since Jan. 11, at which point Boucher was still in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

Weinstein initially said he asked an equipment guy to get Boucher for an interview, but members of the team's equipment staff -- plus several other staffers who work in that area -- said they did not recall receiving such a request. And Thursday, Boucher said he did not talk to any reporter.

In his statement, Weinstein clarified his version of the events.

"As far as Boucher, as soon as I finished talking to the B-Sens players and coach, I raced around to the other side and asked a man wearing a hat if he could grab Boucher," it reads in part. "Two minutes later a guy who looked to have just played a game emerged into the hall. I said "Brian?," and he replied yeah. I asked two quick questions, he wasn't very talkative, then I went up to write my story."

There is no other Phantoms or Senators player named Brian -- or Ryan -- other than Boucher, who  denied he made the comment. The Press & Sun-Bulletin has removed the Murray quote, and added a disclaimer at the top of the story to say that the Boucher quote was from an "unidentified player."

Weinstein, however, denies the quotes were fabricated.

"I would never purposely hurt the integrity of the Press and Sun Bulletin or myself by faking anything. I especially wouldn't drive six hours round trip to do that either," Weinstein's statement reads in part. "Actions will speak louder than words and I hope my continuing coverage will show that I take pride in accuracy and getting the story right."

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