Twenty

August 8th, 2001 marked the first Face Off Hockey Show. Known just as “Face-Off,” it was a streaming radio show that pre-dates the iPod by two-and-a-half months– which is why we didn’t call it a podcast. It was a show that streamed live and thanks to code and all of that– it was made available as an on-demand stream. It was kind of ahead of its time.

If you were to tell me then that this show would still be going two decades later, I’d be a little apprehensive. At that time, Marc and I were both about to head to college, while Jon had a career already, and Sean was running the streaming business that hosted our show. At any time it could have just fell by the wayside because of life getting in the way. Hell, I moved to another country three years into the show, so needed to adjust and adapt to that was a big deal.

But we did just that. From VOIP phones to cell phone cards to Excalibur boxes, to then Hangouts On Air and now Skype– we’ve found a way to do a show every Wednesday (give or take two or three) from 2001 until the present. It’s been a way for us to keep in touch, it’s been a way for us to get/keep our names relevant in the hockey landscape, and it’s allowed up opportunities we might not have otherwise have taken. Granted, Sean has gotten plenty on his plate nowadays and really dropped off for a bit; the Pitzes and I have kept this train a-rollin’.

When you look at the 20 years or work we’ve done and the places we’ve been; the question that may come up and one that I always have is whether or not we feel we should be bigger in terms of popularity than what we have now??

Personally (since I don’t know what the Pitzes think), I do think we should be bigger. That’s easy to say when there’s a bias in it, but I mean– we’ve put in the work, the longevity, know some of the right people– but the wide-spread notoriety hasn’t happened for us. While that sucks, the core group of people who enjoy us seem to enjoy us a lot. Having that “underground” fan base is pretty cool and I love them to death. I just wish more people enjoyed us how our fans have enjoyed us.

We don’t play the game well. We never wanted to be the fake persona on the podcast or any kind of online presence just to be in the good graces of people. We know who we like, we want to talk to people who we like, and it’s kind of easy for us to pick up the people who might be great in some capacity in their own online bubble; but are people I personally don’t think I could be fake for if they were to come on the show. We know the people we gel with on the show and that’s why they’re a constant for us. But we also know who we wouldn’t gel with and I wouldn’t want to do a forced interview just to get listeners from their portfolio.

Another way we don’t play the game well is that we don’t mesh with the NHL ideology. That was never more noticeable when Jen (NHL History Girl) introduced me to former senior VP of communications for the league, Frank Brown, and to get the response of an icy cold stare and a “I know who you are” as a response to my introduction…pretty much shows why we as Face Off Hockey Show rarely get NHL credentials under the show name. The show hasn’t been credentialed since 2017. No reason why, no real idea why– but it is what it is now, I suppose.

Granted, I’m sure a lot of other bloggers and podcasts have been treated the same way. After the big internet boom of the late ’00s, early ’10s; the NHL has had to be picky and choosy about who gets what and where. Add that to everyone old beat writer joining The Athletic and doubling the coverage by team beats because of it– if you don’t have a big status; you’re not going to get into the show.

In any case, we still soldier onward. This show has been great for me to stay in touch with my friends back home every week and make me play pretend radio guy as a hobby for the past two decades. This has been a great time for me and I hope it continues for many more years to come. We have a great relationship with the Maryland Black Bears of the NAHL, a solid relationship with the University of North Dakota, and made some pretty long-term friends/fans out of this whole thing. For me, someone who wanted to get into media since I was a teenager, I couldn’t think of a better time than these past 20 years.

Take care of yourself and someone else.

Hockey Blowhard Creates Fake Controversy of Hockey Star in Major Market

Leave it to Brian Burke angling for Don Cherry’s seat to create a controversy no one knew they needed.

Burke said on Toronto’s Fan590 that he’s confident that Auston Matthews will leave the Maple Leafs FIVE YEARS FROM NOW WHEN HIS CONTRACT IS UP. The fact that Burke is talking about this situation is peak Toronto sports fear mongering. Hell, the Leafs should be more worried about trying to get Mitch Marner signed than having to deal with these kinds of questions and “what-if” scenarios that a former executive has to say.

Yet, so it goes for this hockey media culture at this time. Clickbait titles, super-hot takes, wild future state scenarios all in vain to get eyes and ears onto their product. It’s a fast-paced world with a lot of content and something like this gets people to stop scrolling and read– which helps ad revenue, creates totally level-headed discussion about it on social media, and gets writers/hosts/whomever high praise from some and cyberbullying from others.

(For the record– I enjoy this kind of chaos, especially with a fan-base like the Leafs. This is second only to the whole Connor McDavid wanting to leave the Edmonton Oilers trope that has been out there in the past– which always triggers the Oilers fan-base. Also, in both cases I could see it being plausible– with Matthews and the Leafs going to need to a lot of more cap space to fit Matthews, Tavares, and maybe Marner or whatever other wunderkind they have signed to a huge deal. That could mean Matthews would get a better offer in the better spot elsewhere. When it comes to McDavid– it’s really all about the team around him that could make him want to stay or leave Edmonton, which maybe Ken Holland can fix in the short time he has to work with. That said, McDavid still has seven years on his deal and has no modifiers on his contract– which could be fun and interesting though nothing will happen and he’ll play it out because he’s a good Canadian boy.)

Back to the matter at hand– the way the Burke presented this and how people picked up on it is why hockey fans get aggravated about how the media puts things out there. It creates a buzz at first, but then they realize it’s just bullshit. Plus, a lot of these click-bait titles provide no detail in the meat of the story– TSN’s Bardown is very notorious for that whole thing where they put a click-baity title and there’s nothing in the actual article pertaining to the title; but it gets views and revenue so why not, huh??

At the end of the day, this is the way hockey (and really most of the) media goes these days– buzzworthy titles of articles with no real substance in said article, talking heads just saying anything to get people to listen to them and create fake debate, all the while– fans are going to believe what fits to their own personal beliefs about the players or teams regardless of what anyone is logically saying in the reality of the situation.