Volume 95, Issue 17

Friday, September 28, 2001
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About the Gazette


Mustangs look to steady the ship

TD Waterhouse - good or bad?

Kwiatkowski- the next Steve Nash? Anything's possible

Elliotte Friedman: a reporter and a gentleman

Smith taking sports out to the Mustang masses

Mustang Mike Pasel holds the line on defense

As good as it gets

Elliotte Friedman: a reporter and a gentleman

By Dave Martin
Gazette Staff

Elliotte Friedman, one of the most widely recognized television sports reporters in Canada, never set out to be a scholar.

"I was always a kid who did well in stuff I liked and that is pretty much why I wanted to get out of school as fast as possible," says Friedman with a laugh. "There was no way I was going through extra years of school to be a doctor or something like that."

Instead, he chose his university path based on programs in newspaper and radio, which is how he ended up at Western as an English major.

Friedman worked for The Gazette and CHRW 94.7FM in his first two years at Western and truly enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately for him, as the paper demanded more and more time (he served as a sports editor two years in a row), Friedman had to reduce his time on the airwaves.

By his fourth-year, Friedman left the radio station completely in order to serve as Editor-in-Chief of The Gazette.

After freelancing his way through a hiring freeze in the newspaper industry, Friedman caught his big break while volunteering for the Fan590 radio in Toronto.

"Howard Berger, their key reporter, went on holidays in the summer just as the Major League Baseball strike was looming and as the women's tennis championships were taking place.

"They desperately needed a reporter and pretty much got stuck with me," Friedman says. "Scott Metcalf, the news and sports director – who ended up being a very influential person in my career – approached me and basically told me I was doing [the job], without making it too much of a question," Friedman recalls.

For the next three years he became a regular on the Fan, covering the Leafs, Raptors, Jays, Argos and other special events before moving on to Headline Sports (now The Score) when it was launched in 1997. Though enjoying the challenge of a new job, Friedman didn't necessarily like the small print involved in a television job.

"Though in one sense it was cool to be on TV, the behind the scenes stuff was quite a shock. I had gotten used to being able to arrive at work in joggers and a ball cap, but television is far from the same story as everything has to look perfect, including make-up and a suit," he says.

Although it took some getting used to, Friedman thoroughly enjoys his job and hopes to remain at his post for a number of years.

"You see a lot of people in this business make mistakes from constantly moving, trying to climb higher and higher up the ladder. In this business things can turn on you so quickly that quite often, it's not worth taking the risk. I've had those chances, but I love my job right now and in my eyes, why try breaking a good thing?"

Friedman clearly has much influence on the quality of his interviews, but he also admits how a one-on-one turns out is often out of his hands. He cites an incident when he caught former NHL tough guy Bobby Clarke in an unusually social mood as a good example.

"That day Bobby just wanted to talk; I stuck the mic in front of him and he let it all out. Sometimes though, it can go completely against you as well." Friedman says.

Naturally interviews can take another direction. Friedman caught Toronto Maple Leaf general manager Pat Quinn near the end of last season as the Leafs were spiraling out of the playoffs and Quinn was less than hospitable.

"After getting agitated on my first two questions, Quinn knocked over his chair and stormed out of the room upon hearing a more in-depth question. He publicly called me deceitful, but I learned to stand up for myself, as I felt it wasn't deceitful at all and was very fair," Friedman says.

When asked to name some of his most memorable career highlights, Friedman is quick to bring up a picture that sits on his desk of him and Joe Torre on the field minutes after the Yankees had just won the World Series. "What a rush that was, to be right there in all the pandemonium," he says.

Others that came to mind were being with Cal Ripken Jr. on the field after his memorable All-Star game this year, Ray Bourque after completing his mission to win the Stanley Cup and Bobby Clarke during the Lindros saga, when he was in an unusually talkative mood.

Of course, there are hard lessons to be learned in any job. Friedman recalls a story that taught him a lesson he will never forget.

"I was covering the Brickyard 500 NASCAR race for the Fan590 and we were in a rain delay with not much going on. Only seconds before I was to be on air to give my update, I glanced at a TV screen and saw cars going around the track.

"I did the live-to-air update reporting that the race had just started. A few minutes later, a caller informed our office that the TV was showing last years' race and that I was reporting on a race that didn't exist. I definitely learned that day to know for a fact everything you report," Friedman says.

From growing up in Toronto as an ultimate sports fan, Elliotte Friedman has lived out his dreams by becoming one of the most well-known and respected sports journalists in the Canadian television industry.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001