Face Off Hockey Show: Barely Legal

Half my life.

That’s the time I’ve spent conducting the Face Off Hockey Show. And it’s been a helluva ride. So many studios, so many production changes, so much new technology. The only constant was the hosts and Marc moving every five or so years.

The show itself isn’t much, we’ve had our chances to expand only for the season-killing lockout of 2004-05 to really squash that. But it has afforded me the opportunity to do a lot of things I never thought I would, travel places I didn’t think I’d get to, and do some things I thought I would do– but didn’t know when it’d happen. It’s also helped my writing career and all of that, too.

Face Off Hockey Show is a podcast that pre-dates the iPod by two-and-a-half months. Of course, we just called them “archived on-demand streams” at that time, so it’s not like you could carry it with you. But smartphones weren’t a thing either, so it’s not like you could have downloaded to your mobile device.

Since then, we’ve created more podcasts, killed more podcasts, and won a Labatt Blue hockey tournament. What other podcast can say that?? Maybe a few. Still though, it’s been a fun time for all involved…I hope.

Hell, the NHL knows about us enough to not really let us into events under our own name anymore. Thanks NHL HQ!!

While we’re deep into this, there is still a little hope of us actually hitting it big at some point. All of us have good jobs right now and if a life-changing offer came along, we’d have to think long and hard about it– but it would be awesome to start doing it every day as a job.

“How can WE help??” no one reading this said. Glad you asked. The FOHS Media Faction Patreon is a way to do it. We’re doing all kinds of stuff this summer and hopefully going into the next season. Maybe check it out and go from there. It’d be great if you could.

In another 18 years, I’ll be in my 50s and who knows if we’ll still be doing it or if media will be the same now. But it’s been fun doing FOHS for all these years and I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to it. Here’s to more years and more times that our media servers change their way of doing things for us to keep up with the times.

So…if you’re so inclined– an 18-year-old show. As always– take care of yourself and someone else.

NHL Branded Podcasts Are Exactly What You Would Expect

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Logo via NHL.com

This past week, the NHL got into the late-2000s by releasing their own branded podcasts, one of which is called the NHL Executive Suite. Every other week, Deb Placey will talk to hockey executives about, according to the release, “how each guest broke into the game, why they pursued their careers, how they see the future of the sport and much more.” Their first podcast was with Hall of Famer Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner (f-f-f-f-for life).

In between having a ton of podcasts and avoiding writing on this blog apparently, I gave this a listen. Now, this won’t be a complete deconstruction of the podcast and nit-picking from my 17 years of experience, because I don’t think it needs deconstruction for what it actually is and who it’s put out by. Plus, if I were any better at doing podcasts, I’d be in a spot on the NHL Productions Radio spot.

No, this is more about the concept of the project with who is putting this out.

If it were anyone but the NHL, the podcasts would actually have things people want to hear and not fluff pieces about these executives that are going on. I can’t blame Deb Placey, she’s great in directing the conversation, getting the topics that they want to put across, and pretty much following through the whole thesis of what they want this podcast to be about. Placey is fantastic as a host and her history with the NHL and knowing how to deal with executives from her time with Gary Bettman and his radio show is perfect in knowing how the league wants this all to play out.

My problem with something like this is that these are people that other podcasts would love to have on and not have the sugar-coated questions. There is a lot to the onion of any of these executive’s stories, but they’re so guarded in where they are working that these stories are not something that will come out on podcasts as long as they’re employed. This is a podcast where I would rather have nothing at all than to have something like this that only scratches a surface that will never be fully scratched because hockey people are that way.

Earlier in the month, the NHL released their Fantasy on Ice podcast– again, years after they should have had one. However, with all the new sponsorship deals they have with MGM and Fan Duel and Yahoo– why not have a fantasy hockey podcast licensed by the NHL?? It’s a simple thing that should have been done years ago, but now that other places have something like that– the NHL is trying to finally make a splash and hope that people go with the NHL brand over other places.

Listen, it’s okay that these exist, but for the NHL to be producing them lets you know that it’ll be as milquetoast as you think it’ll be for a league putting out content like this. In fact, I’m surprised the NHL did this because they are probably the league that most protects their brand against people who aren’t going with the company line.

(Don’t believe me– just ask me about my interact with a recently retired NHL executive at the Dallas Draft and why it’s harder than hell to get the Face Off Hockey Show in with credentials to NHL events.)

These programs– as well as the ones on NHL Network and NHL Network Radio– are going to protect the league in any way they can. Sure, there might be some discussion to the contrary about different things, but with these hosts contracted by the league to do a service– they won’t go against the grain and risk a job because they know spots at The Athletic are filling up to capacity and the bubble may burst soon. It’s a cozy job, it’s an easy job, it’s something people would enjoy if they want to just see the money roll in.

But what fun is that when you’re just hearing the company line. There’s plenty of great stories out there that many won’t tell because they’re too close to the game, but the guys outside of the game will talk your ear off about them. It’s my hope that one day there’s going to be a wrestling-style “shoot” interview with some players or executives and it’d be a great time….but some hockey players aren’t that way and it’d never have the full effect, though it could be a great money maker.

So– here’s to the NHL for finally getting onto the podcast life years too late from when they should have. It’s great to have another hockey podcast– despite it being a color-by-number interview segment that rarely touches on the things people want it to touch on.