I hate to make to comment on myself rather than the San Jose Sharks, but we’ve had a lot of newcomers to the blog recently wonder who I am and what my agenda is. First of all, let me just say that I’m a hockey fan, first and foremost. I love hockey more than anything but my wife, my family, and the McRib. I watched the entire third period of the Flames-Wild game last night in standard definition. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
I’ve been covering the Sharks for HockeyBuzz since October 2006. I started writing for the site because I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my insights with an intelligent hockey audience. I also hoped to gain practical experience and make connections that would help advance my career as a sports writer, but mainly I loved being able to write about hockey without newspapers’ restrictive inch counts or inherent ignorance about the “fringe” sport.
I worked as a sports writer for approximately three years, until realizing it was time to take my career in a different direction. I once heard someone say that, as a sports writer, if your annual salary matches your age you’re doing okay. I’m not driven by money – in fact, I haven’t made a single red cent for any of the writing I’ve done for HockeyBuzz – but that didn’t sound like a recipe for a long and happy life, even though I did love working as a sports writer.
It’s true that I’m not a Sharks fan. If that offends you on some level, I should remind you that David Pollak is not a Sharks fan, and Mark Purdy isn’t even a hockey fan. I’ve always approached the blog as a journalist/columnist, rather than a fan of one team or another. In fact, I couldn’t write about my favorite hockey team, because my emotions and personal interest would cloud my judgment and destroy any objectivity I hoped to convey.
I’m often accused of writing to “stir the pot” in order to drive up page views here at HockeyBuzz. Honestly, I have no idea how many people visit the site, it has no impact on my bank account, and I’ve never written anything with page views in mind. Everything I write is my own personal opinion. Since I don’t have access to the Sharks locker room, I’ve had to rely on that opinion a lot more and the quality of the blog has suffered. I sincerely apologize for that, and I realize it’s not an optimal situation.
Obviously my opinion is going to skew negatively at times, and that might ruffle the feathers of Shark fans who, naturally, get defensive about their favorite team. If you start bashing the McRib I’m going to come to its defense, but that’s my prerogative, just as it’s yours when I offer my opinion on Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton. It's nothing personal, and I hope you won't take it personally, whether you agree or disagree with my opinion.
Ultimately, it’s just a game and you can’t take it too seriously, but I do appreciate the passionate responses I receive from smart hockey fans. Today, I love following the team's ups and downs, and the blog and SharksBuzz postgame show have given me more enjoyment than I could have imagined when I began writing for HockeyBuzz.
I think we can all agree that it’s been heartbreaking to follow the Sharks, simply because they’ve elevated our expectations and built anticipation for a long and prosperous Cup run that hasn’t materialized. Patience has worn thin this season, and it seems the window of contention has begun to close. I know, it sucks. I would much rather follow the Nashville Predators, a team with minute expectations and likeable players that gives you an honest effort each night. We’re all dealt the hand we’re given.
Luckily, we have the San Jose Mercury News to rely on for news and insight into the team’s day-to-day operations. When your favorite team has one person covering it, you’d better pray to the hockey gods that he takes his job seriously and works his tail off to deliver the goods. Thankfully, Pollak is one of the best in the business, and if it isn’t already, his Working the Corners blog should be one of your most frequent stops every day.
I’m grateful I’ve had a chance to rub shoulders with Pollak, Rich Hammond, Pierre LeBrun, Jim Matheson, Eric Duhatschek, and a number of other hockey writers I respect and admire. We all get a thrill from watching or meeting the players, but sometimes I get a bigger kick out of meeting the writers, who often become a bigger part of our everyday lives. I’ve always wanted to be that guy, the one people turn to for information, opinion, and insight. Thank you very much for reading, and enjoy tonight’s game.
It should be a good one tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. The Minnesota Wild just keep winning, so the Sharks need to reel off some victories to keep afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. Win or lose, we’ll break it all down and take your toll-free calls at (724) 444-7444, talkcast ID# 74909. Thanks for reading and have a good one.