I am a big fan of podcasts, and of hockey podcasts especially. I had a podcast called 'World Hockey Report', and the problem is that a podcast about sports generally doesn't have much of a shelf-life. I wanted something that a person could come back to again and again, even if it was a year or two later.
What was your inspiration for the book?
It's all part of my mission to promote the idea that hockey is not just something that is played in Canada, it's played all over the world. The NHL released a list last year of the greatest hockey players of all time, and it contained very few Russians and no women.
How would you try to promote hockey to someone who has never watched?
Well, I'd say, just watch a game, preferably one on a high level for high stakes. If they are a fan of other sports that's the best advertisement. If someone's not a fan of sports at all, the best experience might be live, in a local arena. You can go watch almost any level of hockey.
What are the difficulties that your podcast has faced?
First of all, I think there are about three types of podcast listeners. The first are the binge-listeners, who listen to a lot of podcasts, and listen to every episode. The second are people who are interested in a certain topic and they listen to podcasts about that topic, and there are people who have an occasional interest and listen to a few episodes. With all three types of people you are in competition for listening time, you have to be good enough or interesting enough for people to come back. I think another problem specific to hockey podcasts is that you have huge media businesses that have podcasts or personalities that they are interested in promoting. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard a podcast that's promoted on a rival network, or an indepentent pocast. So it's tough to gain traction.
What is your personal involvement with the game of hockey?
I have never played ice hockey, but I played a lot of road hockey. That's actually an under-expored part of Canadian culture. Ken Dryden, I think he got his start playing road hockey.
What do you find annoying about your podcasts?
Good audio production has always be a problem for me. I live on the eleventh floor of an apartment building. It's loud.... I think though I have a bit of a punk ethic about it. Josh Clark said once that the best advice he could give is to get a great microphone, and then you see the ones that they use and it costs a thousand dollars. I don't have that kind of money to put into it. I prefer a low-tech vibe where it's just me ranting into a microphone.
What would you change in the game of hockey?
About the sport? Not much, maybe a few rules here and there, but about the NHL? Plenty. I think the big thing for me is Olympic participation and a real international professional championship.
What was your favourite hockey moment?
I think my favourite hockey moment was when Canada won the gold medal in 2004 in Salt Lake City. I was watching the game by myself, and I opened the windows and you could hear people screaming after every goal. It was the first gold for Canada in 50 years. It was also the first time I watched women's hockey, and that game was by far more entertaining than the men's game.
What's the most interesting thing you've learned since you started the podcast or wrote the book?
That Frank McGee was a bad ass. He scored 15 goals in a Stanley Cup final once because a guy on the other team said he wasn't very good. Despite his nickname being 'One-Eyed' McGee he volunteered to serve in the first World War. He was killed, but I think that shows we tend to think of hockey history as NHL history, and those are two very different things.
What are some of your favourite podcasts?
If I stick to hockey, I like the Marek Vs. Wyshynski podcast, Puck Soup, the Hockey PDOcast and the Hockey News Podcast. They all give a different perspective on the game, but if you want something that's more timeless checkout mine, of course.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope, eventually, to make a living off of the podcasts or the books, and to keep telling the interesting stories that make hockey so fascinating.
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