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Dan Potash Interview, Part Two. Jan Snyder learns more about how the FSN Pittsburgh reporter interacts with his interview subjects, where he finds some of his story ideas, and his thoughts on the female fan’s commitment to the game. 

 

 

A Man for All Seasons (but mostly hockey season) Part Two

for part one, please click here

 

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by Jan Snyder
Monday Oct. 27th 2008

FSN Pittsburgh's Dan Potash

Dan Potash, Anchor/Reporter for FSN Pittsburgh, covers all the Pittsburgh teams, but most of his time is spent with the Penguins these days.  He’s covered the Pirates and Steelers too in good times and bad.  Covering these media darlings is just all in a day’s work for him.


“I don’t see Crosby or Roethlisberger or Jack Wilson as superstars,” Dan said. “I see them as people and I think they treat me the same way.  They know I have a job and they have a job, but we treat each other the same, as people.  Many times I’ve done an interview where I’ve had to ask some pretty difficult questions and later I’ll tell them I’m sorry I had to grill you on that point.  But they just say, ‘Hey, it’s your job.  I had a bad game, I can’t hide from it, and everybody saw it.’ People will say to me that I’ve got the best job ever and honestly, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about that, how extremely lucky I am to be in this position.  I like to think that I’ve earned it but I realize that I need to continue to perform, much like a player does, because if I don’t continue to bring home good stories, I’m giving them a reason to question what I do and I don’t ever want to be in that position.”


This season, the Pens have a new look to their team as many faces from just last year’s playoff run are gone, including Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa, and Georges Laraque, among others. This year’s roster includes Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedetenko, Matt Cooke and more different faces.  Potash needs to get more familiar with these new players and looks to some of the ones he’s known for awhile for help.

Dan Potash and Max Talbot, rinkside


“The guys I get along best with are Talbot, Dupuis, Crosby and Fleury, because I’ve known them the longest.  It didn’t take long to get to know Cooke.  During training camp, I asked him if he had a couple of minutes and he said, ‘I don’t know – you gave Crosby 30 minutes for his big special, do you have enough time for me?’ So we hit it off right away thanks to his ribbing.  It’s part of the challenge of every season because there are always new players in every sport.  I don’t think I go out of my way to do anything differently.  It’s just me being me and if some guys open up more than others, it is what it is.  Sometimes you have ‘go to’ guys that you can go to when you need a good answer.  You have to gauge who’s who.”

Dan relies on the fans for some of his story ideas.  Viewers will stop him at the arena or on the street or send emails with ideas that often lead to a good story.  Many ideas come from what he sees and some from producers, but he credits the fans with telling him about hockey tales he would never come by himself.

“Last year a viewer emailed me about a family that had an outdoor, home-made ice rink built in their backyard.  I would never have found that on my own.  I got in touch with the guy, he emailed me pictures and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I was even more astounded when I saw it in person.  I’d say there were at least 10 to 15 stories that I aired during intermissions last season that were a credit to people calling and telling me about them.  That’s great, because you kind of get a sense of pride that you make a connection with the viewers, that they would take time to watch what you do, like what you do, and maybe have an idea that in turn helps you tell a story.  If I can turn their idea into a story, then I’ve done my job because at the end of the day, my job is to tell somebody something they didn’t know when they got up in the morning.”


We all know that Pittsburgh fans of every sport are rabid about their teams.  Male and female, hockey or football, they bleed black and gold.  In case you didn’t know, Pittsburgh is the only city in the country where the three major sports teams wear the same colors.  Mixing and matching a wardrobe for every season is essential.  Dan finds this team and its fans have a special connection.


“There’s been something about this generation of fans and the way the Penguins have grabbed them.  There is a definite difference in how the city embraces the team than when I first arrived in 2000.  There’s something different about the kids in high school and college and the Pens have captured thousands of fans at the right age who will be fans forever.  The Pirates have an older fan base, the Steelers fan base if basically everybody, but the Pens have tackled this young crowd and it’s great.”


And what about that large percentage of female fans we see at Mellon Arena?  Dan has converted his girlfriend into a hockey fan so he has some experience with how ladies feel about the game.


“I think it’s great there are so many lady fans. When I was growing up in L.A. a huge L.A. Kings fan, my high school sweetheart didn’t know sports that well, especially hockey.  I took her to a couple of games and she was drawn to the sport.  She became very curious about how the game worked and how players learned how to skate and why they shoot and why this happens and that happens.  Fast forward 20 years – I’ve been dating a woman from Milwaukee and she started going to games.  There was the same reaction – she started asking questions and was soon enthralled by the game.  Baseball is too long or too slow, football has too much time between plays, but hockey is non-stop, it’s fun, it’s physical, it’s high-scoring.  Put that all together and women become interested and dedicated fans.


I’ll bump into women at the arena who really know the sport, know where the players are from, why they developed a slap shot, how they developed stick-handling skills, why some goalies are butterfly style.  I think some of it comes from the why the Pens have exploded here, but a lot has to do with the way the media can illustrate the game in so many ways.  The Internet is just one avenue they have to watch and learn.  It’s a sport played by men, but loved by women.”


Dan will continue to be the conduit between the team and the fans.  We depend on him to fill us in on the inside scoop – from Coach Therrien to Sid to Hal Gill – and he doesn’t let us down.   If in the course of his duties, if he has to put up with a kiss on the cheek from Georges Laraque or a hug from Ryan Malone, he will do it – and bring us the story behind it.

Note:  Dan offered to talk with Hockey and High Heels again if those of you reading this have questions for him.  I will compile them and he will answer.  If you have a question for Dan about the team, or his job, or just hockey in general, send it to: texasjan@hotmail.com

 

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