On the Topic Of Networking

I’m not good at networking.

Maybe that’s not the right thing to say, because I can network– but I think I’m not good at forcing myself to network. I’m sure that shows in where I might be in my career with all of this thing.

And maybe it’s because I see people who force their way into things and try too hard to network while looking super desperate in doing so. After seeing that, I’d rather not network than appear to be a disingenuous ass. Those people might get a spot here and there, but in my eyes– I don’t know if giving up whatever moral convictions I might have when it comes to this journalism career to be a boot-licker is the right route for me. I’d rather the work I put in be the determining factor in that.

Of course, maybe the work is the reason I’m in the spot I’m in– so it’s very much up for debate.

I’ve always been convinced that you do the work and you’ll get rewarded for it. If it’s one of those “eventual” things, then I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting after almost two decades. Stuff I think is great never gets traction while the dumb stuff is what blows up and makes me wonder what the fuck the algorithm is for any of this.

Back to the networking side of things, there’s a lot of people in the media that I consider friends or acquaintances and I think because of that, I don’t want to endanger that relationship to be an overzealous person in angling for a higher standing in order to make gains for my end-goal. There’s no space for that in a friendship that uses each other. It’s got to be symbiotic, baby.

Granted, at this point in time, probably the best I’m not in a bigger journalism job as a career since there’s little to talk about. Still, thinking in the bigger picture, I just wish I could have “networked” better when I had clout and popularity in order to actually have made something more out of this freelancing situation I’m in right now.

And that’s what’s up.

Now Hear Me Out, Practice Rinks

With the idea of the NHL coming back around July or whatever and so many weird scenarios being thrown out there, the location(s) of the events are going to be crucial. Of course, the idea of a big, vacant arena is a trippy situation that’ll border on the absurd to open up the venue when getting no revenue out of it.

But what about practice facilities?? This is something Captain Chaos Jonny P thought of during the April 29th edition of Face Off Hockey Show.

Sure, there’s going to be some players weary of it because the training facilities aren’t going to be up to snuff with the exception of the main weight room area, but why not think about going to the practice rinks in order to play these games?? It seems like something that’ll won’t really cost that much in comparison to the actual giant arena.

There’s not going to be fans in attendance, thus not going to be need for much arena staff, outside of bare bones security; the big time presentation on ice isn’t needed– just speakers. A temporary set-up for the media could be put up if need be, because most practice rinks don’t have the control center for big money productions. The rinks are all the same in dimensions and really the only thing that may not be up to snuff could be the system that holds the nets on– but you’d hope that’s been addressed when they built the facility knowing that a NHL team would be doing their training there and you want the game-experience there to not really mess up a rhythm.

Looking at all angles, it only makes sense because it’ll be low overhead when you look at going practice rink versus the big arena. It’ll already be unique in the situation we’re in right now, so why not double and triple down on the situations, while saving a few bucks for not having to open the big stage when not making any income from it at all. Just a thought to save some kind of money– which could really help everyone in the end going forward.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 021

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

Every weekend is pretty much a playoff weekend for the Black Bears as they continue to fight for the last playoff spot in the East Division. This weekend, they head to WBS and maybe try to close the gap on the Knights, who are four points ahead of the Black Bears going into the weekend. After a split against Maine last weekend, the Black Bears are looking to get some kind of offense going, as they haven’t scored more than two goals per game in their last three games. With Brayden Stannard being out the last couple of weekends, the Black Bears will need others to step up should he be out again this weekend coming up. On the upside, Jackson Sterrett has been getting some puck luck recently, while Aaron Swanson has jump into a more prominent role as his tenure has gone on.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 MEN vs. Elmira, Lebanon Valley

In the last weekend of the regular season, the Mustangs try to improve their spot in the UCHC and perhaps get as high as second in the UCHC, but will have to battle against Elmira– who is right behind the Mustangs in the standings. If nothing else, the Mustangs will use this as a dress rehearsal going forward, though their second half of the season has been a little rougher down the line, as they are 6-5-2 since the semester resumed in 2020. The upside that their conference record is strong and they beat both Elmira and Lebanon Valley on the road just one month ago.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Alvernia, Wilkes

With a 4-1-3 record in their last eight, the Mustangs head into their last weekend of the regular season and sit second in the UCHC South Division. Facing off against two teams lower in the table and two teams they’ve beaten already this year, the Mustangs have their own destiny in their hands if they want to stay in second spot. The only down side if that they are below .500 on the road this season, which could make it a little more difficult for them to get points, but this team has faced adversity this season and come out the other end fine. Here’s hoping going into playoffs, they’ll be able to use this tune-up weekend as a jumping off point for a bigger run.

Now Hear Me Out: Beer League Ducks

Disney-Plus is going to put together a series called “The Mighty Ducks” with news breaking yesterday that Emilio Estevez is playing Gordon Bombay. The plot is a 13-year-old getting booted of a Junior Mighty Ducks team and his mother helping form another team– almost akin to the first movie. That’s all well and good, but it’s be done.

So…now…hear me out: The Mighty Ducks are back, but as beer leaguers and it’s on the FX Network since Disney owns FX.

Sure, the story of Shaun “Goldberg” Weiss being busted for burglary while possibly under the influence of meth; it’s something I think would be fantastic for the fans of the Mighty Ducks who have now grown up and moved on with their lives.

Just think of it– Charlie Conway trying to still relive his glory of the Junior Goodwill Games and not being able to commit to a relationship; Adam Banks coming back to play, but thanks to where he moves– he has to go to a different team; Russ Tyler going off to Hollywood, but coming back to hang out in cameos every now and again. It’s something that could blend “It’s Always Sunny…” with original tropes of the movies. It does what “The Beer League” never got a chance to do– air on TV.

Plus, the nostalgia is real. People are hyped about this, some of the cast got together last year for a reunion, it’s something that’d be great to see how they grew up– rather than hashing out another thing like the movie. I mean, it’s not like Disney would have a bad ending for it; so why not go the opposite route and make it appeal to the generation that grew up on it?? Yes, Disney-Plus could still have their version, but why not throw a bone to the old-timers in this.

Also, let’s not kid ourselves– outside of Kenan Thompson and Josh Jackson; I’m sure those actors would love to have a prominent role like this again and have people geeked up to see it. Sadly, I doubt it’d ever happen (much like my idea of a dark comedy seeing Charlie Conway in the Coach Bombay role), but maybe one day…in another timeline.

Coming June 2021– 3ICE

From 3ice.com

It was announced that a Canadian 3-on-3 summer hockey league, 3ICE, is going to be starting in June 2021 and will have a solid TV deal. TSN and RDS picked up the rights for it on the Canadian side, while CBS Sports Network will be broadcasting the championship game.

Now, this is not unique to summer hockey, as the 3HL is a thing and we all know about Da Beauty League (and my thoughts on that thing). The difference here, is that it’ll be a traveling show and it’ll be on TV. With nine stops and a tournament every stop– that’s a nice cure for people who don’t own a calendar and don’t know when it’s October.

It’s a smart move by TSN, who don’t have much coverage of things in the summer time, as it’ll help draw people to watch 3-on-3 hockey. The interesting play is CBS Sports Network getting in on it, but only doing the championship game– whatever that might entail. Of course, CBSSN is known for broadcasting college hockey, so they have the talent to call and analyze games, but why not go through the whole summer?? I don’t know how many pressing shows that CBSSN actually has that they couldn’t go through with it, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose– it’s getting on US TV, so huzzah for that.

What’s going to be interesting is to see who comes out for these teams in terms of name recognition. You’d have to think that 3ICE would want to go ahead and get some recognizable names to move tickets and get people excited about watching it– which would mean trying to pluck from the Da Beauty League, as the 3HL runs in the fall through spring. Can it make some noise?? Sure, it’s hockey in Canada on Canadian TV– people will watch out of curiousity. The big thing is that if it was regularly broadcasted on US TV, what impact to the fans would it have?? Again, hockey people will watch if the timing is right, but who knows what kind of staying power it’ll produce.

Luckily, the rules are simple, there’s tournaments every tour stop, and it could produce a new folk hero or let people relive their days playing pond hockey…but in the summer. It’s going to be a faster game, a quicker game, and something that’ll keep the most short-attention spanned interesting…or that’s the hope.

One of the more interesting things is the timing of it, which could help its cause. The fact we’re still 18-months away allows the league to actually build hype for it, plot it out effectively so that it will have a model that works in terms of profitability for the league, players, and such; as well as not rushing to the ice like some other places would have when it comes to a new idea and hurrying it to market before it’s fully developed. Though people may forget about it because of time, it’s now up to the marketing team at 3ICE to show their moxie and make sure that people keep it in the back of their mind. With a place like TSN behind them, it’ll be easy above the 49th Parallel; it’ll be attracting US hockey fans to it that might be a little harder without a constant TV presence.

Three Days at The Den

When the NAHL announced in April 2018 that they were expanding to Odenton, Maryland– I was excited, but also apprehensive. In fact, I was wrong about a lot of things that they were going to do in the infancy of that team– like the name and inclusion of Natty Boh. However, as time goes and proves me wrong– I’m happy that I was wrong. Spending time around the team this week and at a home game after a season-and-a-half reporting from afar, this team couldn’t be in better shape with what they’ve laid out from the beginning of the team.

The experience of the week was nothing short of tremendous both in a fan experience side of things with participating in intermission festivities to the professional side of thing with access to players and coaches, as well as helping with recaps of the intermission and getting some time in the booth with play-by-play announcer Alex Utano. The open-arms that the Black Bears welcomed Jen Conway (@NHLHistorygirl) and myself was great. It shouldn’t be such a surprise considering how well they take care of Jon Pitonzo as our official podcast photographer.

Thursday morning, Jen and I went to practice and immediately had Black Bears captain Logan Kons tap on the glass and give a head-nod acknowledgement of us being there– which is a stand-up act in and of itself, but more on that later. Following that, communications director Colin MacCarthy came over to welcome us and following practice, team president Robyn Remick came up to us to make sure that we were well taken care of and offered us a skate in the now-reality Rink Two, which we took her up on.

During the, Colin and I worked out who I wanted to talk to for the week– which turned out to be not only a podcast; but the weekly Black Bears’ Report they put out on their social media streams. Following that, Robyn, Colin, Jen, and myself sat up in the Black Bears war room and talked about things inside and out of hockey. It was very good time hearing stories of Robyn’s past at ESPN and the different things she’s experienced when in the sports lifestyle. We took our leave later to let them get to work and have us adventure on our vacation.

Friday night was a great night, not just because of the Black Bears win, but also just being able to experience the game first-hand. The in-game production, coordinated by Harrison Hascoe, was top-notch and very well executed to keep the fans involved during stoppages in play and during the intermission– even if it means putting two podcasters in a grueling obstacle course that is not meant for two former athletes with dwindling cardio. With my time up in the HockeyTV booth with Alex Utano and cameraman Will (whose last name I didn’t get or forgot– sorry Will) was also awesome, as it had been over 15 years since I last called a hockey game.

Also on Friday night, it was meeting up with billet parents who I have interacted with online before, but have never met face-to-face– with the exception of Bethany and Brian; who came to North Dakota in the summer. It’s always great to meet those people behind the scenes to help keep these players in a family lifestyle while they’re away from home.

While Saturday night was a loss, the production and energy in the arena was amazing and kept everyone invested in the game throughout. Especially after the game, where autographs for fans in attendance happened; which happens win or loss– which is a nice connection with these players to the fanbase and the community as a whole. Also, before the game, a reception was held beforehand, as it was Swedish Heritage Night. Delicacies were made and brought from Sweden that season ticket holders and staff partook in with the families of defenseman Hampus Rydqvist and Filip Jakobsson, as well as Lars-Erik Tindre from the Swedish embassy. Another way that the team connects the fans with the team and also making those from the team feel a little closer to home, if only for a night.

Not only that, but seeing people I haven’t seen in a while– like my former teammate Kevin, meeting people who know my former teammates and who I interact with online– Mark; meeting fellow DMV area hockey backers– like Derek of Chesapeake Regional Hockey Review and his son; plus meeting a podcast listener whose name I didn’t get, but was wearing a Patrick Kane US Hockey jersey– so shoutout to you PK88 listener. It was a great coming together of the hockey community in the region.

Back to Logan Kons for a second. I mentioned earlier about him saying hi when Jen and I got there– but after that practice, he formally said hi to us and we chatted and after the game Saturday he came up and thanked me for coming out and asked when I’d be back in the area. I noticed that Friday, as well, with Kons going up to fans, billet families, player’s families, and talking to them and thanking them for coming out. That’s the mark of a true leader when the off-ice commitments are as strong as the on-ice commitments. If there’s someone to look at when it comes to all-around good person in hockey– Kons will be tops on that list for me.

The entire experience was great, the staff there from Robyn to Colin to Harrison to Alex to Will to Herb the PA Announcer to Mitch the Media Intern to the Ice Crew to everyone was top rate, very welcoming and open, and willing to take time out to make things right if there were problems to make sure that they are running a top-notch program on and off the ice.

If you have the chance to make it out to a Black Bears game, I implore you to do so. This is a team that cares about the community from the president to the players and everyone in between. They all make sure the experience you have there is one you will want to come back to and one that will last in your mind. Thanks to everyone who welcomed Jen and I to the rink and it’s something we’ll be sure to return to hopefully sooner than later.

On the Topic Of: The Future of Blogging

There’s a lot of times I sit around and wonder why my writing and podcasting never caught on with a bigger audience and why I never got offered something from a bigger conglomerate. A lot of that self-doubt contributed to my long layoffs and overall dissatisfaction with writing and talking. The talking part has been revitalized and with the recent happenings at SB Nation, kinda dodged a bullet on that front.

If you didn’t know, you can check Awful Announcing, Posting and Toasting, or anyone of the uniformed posts that the SBN NHL sites put up for more details. In talking with FOHS co-host JonnyP, he noted that this is the beginning and it’s going to get worst before it gets better.

Blogging is a vicious cycle. You start off independently and work hard to get any kind of notoriety from it because you think it’ll lead to bigger things. Some times it does and some times it doesn’t. If it doesn’t happen, a bit of confidence is lost and you adjust and adapt your goals. If it does, you get a bigger audience and more notoriety, but not necessarily the money you’d think you’d be making. So, you work harder thinking that the amount you churn out, the more higher-ups will notice and will pay you more or at all. Yet, in this case, we see that even if you work your heart out and give the best content you think you can put out there– it’s still not enough.

I’ve been lucky to get paid for blogging for a season, which was a daily thing for FHM Online back in 2005-06. Then FHM got bought out and I was out of a job. Never got much of a notification, it just happened and it’s done with. Luckily, I was 22 and life goes on and maybe thought it could happen again. But then life happens and you don’t invest in yourself because you have a family and you have to make a living in something concrete rather than in hopes of making it bigger and better.

While it sucks that people are losing their jobs, that’s the nature of how things are going– especially with sites that exploit writers and their content for the exposure brass ring they dangle out there. It’s going to get worse before it gets better as more states catch onto these stunts. A lot of contributors will be out of their regular gigs because of it and will have to find spots elsewhere, on their own, or just leave the writing scene altogether.

That’s the shitty part. Good people with good insight will lose gigs because they aren’t getting the payment they feel they deserve. So, if a writer you like has some kind of tip jar, maybe toss them a couple bucks and help them out because they’re the technological starving artist out there.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 014

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (13-13-4) vs. WILKES-BARRE SCRANTON KNIGHTS

After a huge three-win weekend in Maine, the Black Bears return home for their last series before a small winter break against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, a team that’s just a single point ahead of them in the standings.

Last weekend, the Black Bears probably played their most complete weekend of hockey in recent memory. They were able to control the pace of the game for the majority of the three games, they got solid goaltending and defense, while their scoring was clicking in a big way. The team’s dynamic seemed to be on full display with everyone on the roster contributing– even if it wasn’t on the scoresheet.

This weekend is the third meeting between the Bears and Knights, with Maryland holding the lead in the series at 3-1, though it’s been almost two months since their last meeting against each other. Obviously a lot has changed, but the matter at hand for each team is to sweep the weekend and have some kind of breathing room going into the second half of the season.

For Maryland, the key is to keep that solid defensive momentum from the Maine series over into the rest of the year. There were very minimal turnovers or bad breakouts that series, which is something they haven’t always done this season. Both Andrew Takacs and Cooper Black were fantastic when called upon, letting up only four goals in the entire three-game series. More over than that, the addition of Mikhael Gonchar has seemingly helped the defense on both sides of the puck, while Logan Kons and Hampus Rydqvist continue to be the anchors of that blue line.

On the offensive side, Jackson Sterrett has been emerging as the top producer for this team. With East Division Star of the Week honors, the Tennessee native has honed his game into an even more well-rounded setting. It also shows the trust that the coaching staff has in him with placing him in every kind of role imaginable to help him succeed, which includes the penalty kill– earning him three short-handed goals in the season. Not to be outdone, Brayden Stannard and Kyle Oleksiuk have been fantastic as complimentary options for the offense. Both have come up with key goals in the last couple weeks, while also showing a ton of grit in the offensive style. Add that to Andrew Remer and Ethan Heidepriem being solid in the face-off dot and around the puck and you’ve got a top-12 that has every facet of game play ready to move ahead and committed to being there for each other.

The Knights have been a streaky team of sort this season, winning two of three this past week, while being 5-3-2 in their last ten. Both Lincoln Hatten and Tyrone Bronte seemingly love to play against the Black Bears, as Hatten has three goals and an assist already this year against Maryland, while Bronte may not be scoring as much (two assists), but is a thorn in the side on his forecheck. One of the biggest things for Maryland is continuing to pepper the goaltending in Zach Stejskal and Alex Contey, whom they’ve score 19 goals in the series so far. Keeping the Knights on their heels is going to be the top priority in making sure they can’t dictate pace.

And if you’re in the area, go to the Maryland Black Bears website to get some tickets and support your local team. Tell ’em Scotty Wazz sent you and some people ask, “Who??” and others will say, “How’s he doing these days?? Does he know about the second rink??”

Ever on the Cutting Edge, NHL on NBC to Start Podcasting

Look, I know what you’re thinking– you love Wednesday Night Hockey and their personalities, but it’s only on TV and streaming and it’s only a couple hours. Well, ladies and gentlemen– you’re in luck. NBC announced Tuesday that they’re going to be starting a podcast with their NHL on NBC personalities called “Our Line Starts.” You can even hear a preview of Keith Jones talking into a plastic cup.

I know, right?? Just want you wanted!!

Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick will host and they’ll have a typical interview and analyst situation that all castrated corporate podcasts have and all the people think it’s great because it’s got big names…

I’m just glad NBC finally got on the podcast train for hockey. I was worried that they’d wait a couple more years after the ship had been sailing off the coast. It’s amazing to me that in a world of independent and team-based podcasts that NBC things– yeah, this is what we need to get into now to get more ears on us and not rip us a new one for being a generic studio/broadcast.

Now, I could be a shill about this and say that a podcast I do should have more eyes and ears to it, but we’ve done it for 18 years and I hold out no hope for us to make it big– so fuck it, let’s run down the exclusive broadcaster of the NHL in the United States. Plus, I already called the NHL cowards and dared them to hire our show to show they weren’t cowards…so there’s that.

There’s so many hockey podcasts out there that are going to be better than listening to the NBC podcast, so just listen to them. I don’t need to tell you what they are because you’re already listening to them. The fact NBC is getting into this pool after it’s been almost drained shows that they’re so far disconnected from the social platform that this is going to be nothing more than a train-wreck that is popular because it’s coming from the NHL’s official broadcaster and will be listened to by people who are either too timid to listen to independent podcasts and like to yell into the void of social media thinking that their opinion is being hear by famous folks when they’re actually clout-chasing…or I could be wrong and the dynamic of Jones and Roenick could be good and it’s a boon for NBC; I’ve been wrong before. However, people dislike the NBC format on TV, I don’t know how many of them will be tuning into the podcast version.

My point is that the fact that this will have more downloads than other podcasts that are better and more informative is disheartening to me. It’s just a version of the “boys on the back of the bus” with some high profile guests sprinkled in to give a more laid-back vibe…or every other hockey podcast out there, but with bigger name guest. It’s a damn shame, too. NBC could have done something big with actually getting independents on to promote their wears, show their knowledge, and maybe grow the sport and podcasts the natural way…but that’s not NBC’s modus operandi.

And listen– as I “jokingly” said in the clip above– hire Face Off Hockey Show for multi-millions and we’ll sell-out faster than the Reel Big Fish song of the same name. Hell, NBC could have hired us to do this same thing while also promoting all their other shows and give Eddie Olczyk his own horse-betting segment. But we’re still for hire…

The NWHL, Twitch, and You

It was announced today that the NWHL will stream their games on Twitch, the streaming video platform, mainly for gaming. However, as times have changed, the platform has become a very wide array of everything on that platform.

First, the good part of it– it’s great exposure for the league. It’s going to be able to reach all people without many hurdles for people in other countries from watching the games. Second, it’s much more interactive than traditional television deals and will definitely allow fans to connect more to the people who are presenting the game. Third, all the games will be there. That’s something you want to have for a section of sport that goes underappreciated and underrecognized for the skill and talent the players bring to the sport. With Twitch teaming up with the NBA’s G-League and the NFL, it could mean good things– so long as they hire the right production people.

Now, the bad part– the most known players haven’t committed to playing in the league yet. The players are sitting out in the hopes the sanity prevails and the league can find a way to provide a living wage for the players. The formation of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association stated that 200 players strong will NOT play a professional game in North America until they get a living wage of being a professional hockey player. The games seems to be going on as planned for the five-team league, but many people may not know the names, which could deter them from watching. That, or the viewers will support those who are on strike to support them in making a living wage, thus hindering the exposure that this deal will give.

Also, I don’t know if this is the best platform for the game. There’s been an issue with porn being streamed on channels (and then becoming the highest viewed channels), harassment of streamers— mainly women– on the platform, as well as abuse of animals and spouses during streams that have been widely public. Not to mention streamers selling their bath water for their viewers.

It’s basically seems like the Wild West out there.

While this is a step in the right direction for women’s hockey in the mainstream, I don’t think it’s necessary now. I’ve plotted out a while ago a plan that should be done in order to make a professional women’s hockey league viable and none of it includes the NWHL as it is now. However, part of it is being done with the PWHPA’s Dream Gap tour. The big name players need to be out there, touring North America to get people more familiar with them as players and people. Do that for a year and keep women’s hockey out there, while you wait for the NWHL to cave and sell their assets to the NHL and let the NHL run the women’s league to start in 2020-21 with all their marketing, production, and footprint on the landscape.

When NHL teams supported NWHL or CWHL teams, it was more noticeable in the mainstream and it helped those teams a lot to have the synergy of the NHL clubs doing promotion for them. It only makes sense for the NHL to step up, buy the assets of the NWHL, get a living wage for the players so they can actually focus at their task at hand, and we’re all enjoying women’s hockey in a bigger form and on a bigger scale than what’s out there now.

A streaming TV deal is all well and good, especially for three-years and money being put into their pocket; but I doubt it’s good enough to lure the top names out of a strike and to create a living wage for players who have committed this season.