Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

An E-mail Interview with Toronto Hockey Blogger Extraordinaire Jeff Veillete

When it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs, there are a lot of great bloggers that cover the team and present valuable opinions.

One such blogger who does that and more is Jeff Veillette of Leafs' HQ as well as Marlies HQ. Jeff is also now one of the bloggers for CBS's terrific Eye on Hockey blog.

Jeff was kind enough to take the time to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became a hockey blogger, which hockey outlets he has blogged/is blogging for and what he is looking to provide his readers at the outlets he covers the sport for.

PH: How did you get into hockey?
JV: I honestly can't remember a time where I wasn't. Both sides of my family have background in the sport, and as such, I was raised to be into it. My first memories are almost all hockey related, from watching old playoff games to wanting to play street hockey with my uncles. It's an essential part of who I am, and I doubt that will ever change.

PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player? Why?
JV: Being from Toronto, it was pretty easy to jump into the perpetual disappointment sink that is the Maple Leafs. Granted, my early childhood consists of the time they were at least competing in the playoffs, so I'm not completely out of line for it. I had two favourite players growing up - Doug Gilmour represented the Leafs in that regard, as he would always be making the extra effort while on the ice and usually had a point on a big goal.

The other one was Pavel Bure - I loved watching him take off knowing that nobody was going to catch him, and the pure excitement he both created and showed in every game he played. He was actually the reason that the Canucks have been my "secondary" team almost as long as the Leafs have been my first and foremost.

PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a hockey writer/blogger?
JV: Believe it or not, it happened by circumstance. Despite being so into the game, I never saw myself wanting to be a writer. However, I've always been into computers as a hobby, and was always trying to create weird ways to make money off of the internet. After a couple of failed start up websites, I started a blog called The Faceoff Circle in late 2007. Sure enough, when you're talking about something you actually legitimately care about, people will listen. I added a couple of friends to it early on, and we had a ton of content to work with.

A bit of messing around with social media promotion later, the site had taken off. Eventually we all got bored and I cashed out the site about two years later, but it made me realize how much I enjoyed talking about hockey and made that my long-term direction.

PH: Tell us about who gave you your start as a hockey writer/blogger. What did you learn in your first hockey blogging gig?
JV: As said above, the creation of The Faceoff Circle was my first gig. In fact, until recently, all of my roles have been self-created. I didn't learn a ton about the writing aspects, (at 15 years old, you think you know everything), but the site served as a great lesson about web development, graphic design, social media, working with advertisers, and basic business and marketing.

PH: You run both Leafs HQ and Marlies HQ. What is it like to cover two teams in two different leagues where one is more successful than the other?
JV: It's interesting, no doubt. You never really take in the two leagues part in the way that most would, due to the two teams having such a relationship with each other. After all, you tend to see 5-10 different guys play for both teams in the same year, in one of the shortest imaginable call up distances (two miles from the Air Canada Centre to the ACC).

The teams look the same on the ice, they have similar identities, and obviously, the same ownership group, so you tend to treat the Marlies as an extension of the Leafs rather than a separate team. They were even at similar levels of success when I started - mediocre, non-playoff teams. The game has obviously changed now - the Leafs have maintaned the disappointment, where as the Marlies just ended a stellar run to the Calder Cup Finals.

The biggest difference is the attitude you have going into writing - talking about the Leafs often leads resent, disappointment, and bitterness, as optimistic as you try to be. This applies to your content and the blend of readers you bring in. With the Marlies, it's much more upbeat and positive, and concerns seem trivial. That's where you really remember that we're talking about two separate beasts, as tight knit as they might be.

PH: What are you trying to bring readers at Leafs HQ and Marlies HQ?
JV: At the moment, the two sites run in different ways. Partially by design, and partially by opportunity.

LeafsHQ is definitely more of a place for my opinion - there's just so much saturation of Leafs news in this city that it would be arrogant to assume that your blog will be the place someone hears something first, unless you're the first to the story. I try to bring different perspectives to people on the topics that keep this city talking non stop.

With MarliesHQ, while there's still a lot of opinion involved, I try to bring news, exclusive content, and interviews to the table as well. Unfortunately, the Marlies don't get a ton of attention from the Toronto media or fans, and that's why I started the blog in the first place. It does it's best to fill a massive void in this city's hockey coverage.

PH: Recently, you announced that you will be blogging for CBS's Eye on Hockey blog. How did you get that gig?
JV: It was different, but still straight forward. An odd comparison would be getting into an Ivy League honors society - they'll randomly tap you on the shoulder to get you in, but in this case, I saw a slew of CBS people follow me one after another on twitter within a few days. Eventually, they got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to be on board, and we're about to get underway with this, and I can't wait!

PH: What will you be looking to bring readers at Eye on Hockey?
JV: My main role to start is to bring news and opinions on the seven Canadian NHL teams, but there may be more beyond that. At the end of the day though, I'd like to give people a different perspective on whatever bit of news in the hockey world is being discussed. Even if you disagree with that perspective, it's always good to take in various angles to a story - you never want to shelter yourself from information.

PH: Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to share with Kukla's Korner readers?
JV: A couple of things. One, Leafs fans aren't as obnoxious as they seem - there's just so many, so the vocal minority is going to seem pretty damn big. Secondly, keep an eye on your NHL team's farm teams - they're often just as interesting, and at the very least, you'll know where the young guns came from. Last but not least, stop by LeafsHQ, MarliesHQ, and Eye on Hockey when you get a chance, you won't regret it! Okay, you might. But probably not!

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: cbs+eye+on+hockey, jeff+veillete, leafs+hq, marlies+hq, toronto+maple+leafs, toronto+marlies

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About Goal Line Report

Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.

Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.

For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.