Jack Edwards has been an announcer for the Bruins since taking over for Dale Arnold on away games in ‘05-’06. He’s made his bread, for better or for worse, on being a homer announcer in a market that, as much as some would like to say otherwise, absolutely adores that kind of thing. Having a cultural chip on your shoulder at all times tends to make guys who confirm your worst gorilla-brain moments of “Yeah! Screw you we’re awesome!” feel like he’s one of your guys. As a result, he has a twin reputation as either wildly entertaining or horrifyingly inappropriate, depending on who you ask.
Last night he didn’t do himself any further favors towards quashing that reputation as he chose the single worst group of words to describe the unlucky circumstances that put Roman Polak out for the night.
And here's Bruins announcer Jack Edwards casually calling Roman Polak's injury "bad hockey karma" just before he was taken off the ice on a stretcher pic.twitter.com/lOdlJZPSfw— Mark Powell (@jim_joyce_hater) October 4, 2019
If we’re being 100% fair, the tone isn’t mocking Polak, and more an extremely awkwardly worded way of saying “man, that’s just the worst kind of luck and situation for a guy who wants to play physical," but word choice counts for a lot in broadcasting and in life. What you say and what you mean need to be in sync. Otherwise, you could come off looking unprofessional at the very best, and repugnantly unsympathetic at worst; especially when it comes to player injury.
I have tremendous respect for the Bruin players that sent best wishes. All class. As for Jack Edwards, to say Roman’s injury was “bad hockey karma” while he was laying on motionless on the ice, you are truly a piece of shit and an absolute disgrace. https://t.co/NiUyScZFW1— Allan Walsh (@walsha) October 4, 2019
Bringing up “karma” as if he was asking for this to happen? Not a great idea. Nobody needs an injury that scary, and absolutely nobody is “asking for it."
It was particularly awkward because just a period earlier, Edwards told a story about how several years ago he had told the NHL he wasn’t going to let them dictate his choice of words (after he said the ice looked like the floor of a slaughterhouse after a fight) and implied it was a pretty unprofessional answer, so he really shouldn’t have been trying to test that luck. It's already been an especially bad couple of weeks for broadcasters, as Pat Foley just put himself in a lot of (deservedly) hot water over in Chicago over casually racist remarks about Austin Ortega and Jim Hughson talked about Austin Matthews overcoming his off-ice "issues" as if they were injuries or something to “overcome”.
It might behoove the NHL (and locally, the checkwriters over at NESN) to say something to their local broadcast affiliates. And more importantly, to him.
There's never truly going to be a completely satisfactory answer to how to move forward here: There’s always a group of people who have a dim view of the world around them and will defend dumb comments like the one Edwards had tonight, on the grounds of rallying against a feeling they have about society at large and whether or not you are a kind of frozen water. Others will accept no kind of apology or explanation, instead demanding that swift justice be delivered.
Tons of people love Jack Edwards because he is unfiltered. He is prone to saying whatever comes to mind, and people love his unique way of expressing himself and just how unapologetically passionate he is. They definitely don’t like the idea that people who say the things they wanna hear, even if they sometimes say dumb things on-air, might have consequences for their actions, even if it’s just a stern talking to by executives. It’s a tough tightrope to walk.
The only thing I hope that we can get out of this is that we hope that Edwards knows that his schtick can only go so far, as can people's tolerance of it, and that Polak ends up being OK.