Buffalo Sabres reporter Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News is under fire following a video shared to Twitter by fellow reporter Mike Straw.
The video footage – complete with partial audio – shows a Sabres junior reporter being instructed by Sabres video production manager Kyle Toot to join in on a scrum in the hallway prior to entering the dressing room for Buffalo’s Kid Takeover Game back in 2019.
We've all seen what @ByMHarrington has said and heard the stories, but this is something that deserves to be brought up.
Harrington's history of acting better than isn't new as you can see in this clip of clearly intimidating a Sabres Jr. Reporter. A KID. pic.twitter.com/pmWWZMSRgH
— Mike Straw (@MikeStrawMedia) March 6, 2023
The eight-year-old child reporter was Lucy Sykes, who took Toot’s advice and attempted to move in with her microphone for a sound-byte. Harrington – the chapter chair of Buffalo’s Professional Hockey Writer’s Association – noticed her movement and stepped in, shooing her aside as Rasmus Ristolainen continued his media availability.
The clip generated a significant number of views and was only brought back into the limelight as the Sabres hosted yet another Kids Takeover game this past weekend. During which, Harrington Tweeted a derogatory comment with regard to the child serving as the PA announcer. He deleted the Tweet shortly after.
Lucy’s father, Chris, stumbled upon Straw’s Tweet and commented his side of the story shortly after it was posted.
“That’s actually my daughter, Lucy,” he wrote. “I can provide the context. The night before the Sabres had blown a 3 or 4 goal lead. I was bummed because I knew it was going to change the temperature of the room the next morning when we were there. After the video cuts, the staffer called Harrington out for it. He doubled down said he needed to hold them responsible. He went on to ask Risto why he had the worst +/- in the league and how that is the reason the team is losing and whether that was acceptable. Lucy was 8 at the time, and was nervous and tentative and this definitely didn’t help. But everyone else was so great that it turned out being a great experience for her. It’s just a shame he couldn’t set a good example for her… or at least be a decent human being.”
Toot, the Buffalo Sabres video producer at the time also found his way into the Tweet thread, commenting his side of the story:
“Alright, I was the producer on this Jr Reporter video and that’s me speaking with Lucy at the beginning of the clip. I’ve been telling people this story for years so it’s crazy to see the footage leaked,” Toot shared. “I asked Lucy to hold her mic up to the scrum because I thought it would be a fun BRoll shot. The intention wasn’t even for her to ask a question. We were just killing time before we could get in the locker room. My immediate reaction to MH’s douchebaggery was surprise, like, did that really happen?
“Bandura approached me directly after the clips ends and honestly did the responsible thing which was convince me not to make a scene. He could tell I was heated at the unacceptable behavior. Mr. Sykes handled everything with more class than me. After it was over I apologized profusely to both of them. The dad said, “it’s okay, we know who that is… the jerk from the newspaper!” Not sure “jerk” is the word I’d use. Credit to Lucy for a great job in the video.”
Finally, on Monday night, Harrington shared an apology for his Tweet from the past weekend, while also giving his thoughts on Straw’s video. His full response can be found below:
“A tweet during Saturday’s Kids Takeover Day game about in-game announcements that upset many on social media was meant in the spirit of the fun of the event but clearly fell short. To anyone who was disappointed by that, I apologize.
As I wrote in my column Sunday: “The Sabres Kids Takeover Day promotion was Saturday against Tampa Bay and seemed to be a hit for the second straight year. The players got quite a kick out of the caricatures drawn of them, many of which were used on the scoreboard, and by the boisterous enthusiasm of the kid PA announcer reading announcements and goals.”
On Monday morning, a video surfaced of a Sabres media interview scrum from 2019. I had no recollection of the session until others reminded me Monday that it was the morning after a disappointing loss, when defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was venting in the hall to reporters and sprinkling his answers with profanity. Chris Bandura, the Sabres’ PR director at the time, acknowledged in a tweet today that the session was getting testy. Given that, I was surprised to see a young child with a microphone being directed into the group by a Sabres community relations employee. Because of the language being used, I made sure to stop her from advancing and instructed the employee it was not appropriate for a child. It was nothing I would have wanted any child of mine to hear. The team then accommodated her interview needs after the regular media completed its jobs.
I apologize to anyone who felt I was acting in an inappropriate manner. Monitoring interview scrums is one of my duties as a local chapter chair for the Professional Hockey Writers Association. I was simply performing them that day, but now recognize I could have done a better job in the moment.”