It’s hot and cramped in the Bruins locker room whenever it’s open to the media. There are dozens of reporters scurrying around.
They poke tape recorders and microphones through hectic scrums. They jockey for position like they are looking for a deflection in the crease.
Players respond to whoever asks their question the quickest or the loudest.
Unless it’s Pavel Skorepa standing by David Krejci’s stall.
“Whenever I open my mouth, no matter what I say, he’ll poke his head up kind of over the crowd,” said Skorepa, a reporter with the Daily Blesk, Czech Republic’s most-read newspaper. “And he’ll kind of give me a smile.”
That’s because Skorepa speaks in Czech, Krejci’s native tongue.
Skorepa represents the flood of foreign correspondents who have descended upon this Stanley Cup Final.
There are more than 300 credentialed reporters here in Boston. According John Dellapina, the NHL’s vice president of communications, approximately 50 are from outlets in countries other than the US or Canada.
The NHL playoffs draw attention worldwide, but there’s special interest in the Bruins, whose roster reads like a roll call at a model United Nations conference. There are players from the Czech Republic, Sweden, Latvia, Slovakia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Finland, and, of course, Canada.
Only five players on Boston’s playoff roster are American-born.
“Our readers love hockey,” said Samuel Savolainen, writer for the Finnish sports magazine Urheilulehti. “But they really love Tuukka [Rask] right now.”
Urheilulehti is the second-oldest sports journal in the world. Savolainen is its only US-based reporter.
At first, he lived near Anaheim, Calif., where right winger Teemu Selanne built a Hall of Fame career with the Ducks. In September, Savolainen moved to St. Paul to cover the Wild, who have three Finnish players.
There’s a chance, Savolainen said, he could be relocated to Boston next year.
“We’ve never had a Conn Smythe winner,” Savolainen said. “So if Rask wins that, he’ll be the Athlete of the Year.”
Because Savolainen’s deadlines are much different than North American-based outlets, he doesn’t fight to sneak in the scrums.
Instead, Savolainen conducts one-on-one interviews with the goalie in the hallway after most of the reporters are escorted out.
Savolainen has a good relationship with Rask — they did handful of phone interviews throughout the Eastern Conference finals.
“We Finns kind of look out for each other,” Savolainen said.
Savolainen noticed Rask is a bit more verbose and perhaps more candid in their interviews, compared to the goalie’s chats with North American reporters.
“He sort of relaxes a bit and maybe he isn’t so guarded,” Savolainen said. “Probably because of our relationship or because the atmosphere is different when we talk.”
Savolainen noticed Rask’s body language and candor is different when speaking in his native tongue.
For Skorepa, it’s not as easy.
Jaromir Jagr is the biggest sports celebrity in the Czech Republic, Skorepa said.
“But he’s a kind of strange guy when it comes to interviews,” Skorepa said. “It’s up to his mood if he wants to talk or not. And believe it or not, he doesn’t like to speak Czech. He prefers to speak to US journalists more than Czech. I don’t know why.”
Krejci is much more willing to speak in Czech, Skorepa said, “but he is shy across the board no matter what language he is speaking.”
Skorepa said he doesn’t sense a resentment from US reporters when he asks questions in Czech during scrums.
“I think they understand I have a job to do,” he said. “It’s a business. And [Krejci] doesn’t mind, and they see that.”
Skorepa wishes it was the same for Jagr.
“Everyone wants to read about him because they support him,” Skorepa said. “They are crossing their fingers for him and they can’t believe he hasn’t scored a goal in the Final yet.”
Fans in the US feel the same way.Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilymkaplan.