by Patrick Hoffman on 05/27/11 at 09:00 AM ET
Josh was kind enough to take time out of his extremely busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he got his start in the hockey industry and much, much more.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
JR: I was born with a hockey stick in my hand. When I was born in 1978, my father Jeff was the Sports Director and Montreal Canadiens Pre- & Post Game show host at CFCF with Dick Irvin. I always wanted to tag along with my Dad and go to the games.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite player/NHL Team?
JR: Growing up, I lived in Montreal, Baltimore, and Florida. I lived in Montreal till I was 6 years old, and was a Canadiens Fan during that time. I liked Brian Engblom, Larry Robinson and Chris Nilan, whose jersey I’d wear to Montreal Games. I also was a huge fan of Wayne Gretzky and had his jersey too.
After Montreal, we moved to Baltimore, Maryland where my Dad ended up taking over as Pre- & Post Game Show host of Washington Capitals Games on Home Team Sports after Larry King left for CNN. Again, I always wanted to tag along with my Dad to the Games, even dressing up like him with a suit and tie and the HTS logo on my Sports Jacket! I was a HUGE Caps Fan when we lived there!
My favourite player was Dino Ciccarelli, and to this day still is. I liked Dino because he was always the guy not afraid of anyone, standing in front of the net, taking punishment from the Goalie and Defensemen! Dino was also a good friend of my Dad’s and he would always be at the house. I’ll never forget the time when Dino joined our neighborhoods weekly roller hockey game one time with all my buddies or the time Dino and I were playing street hockey on my driveway and I took a slap shot with a tennis ball and it smashed my Mom’s rearview mirror. Dino took the blame and said it was him, and now 20 years later I’m prepared to fess up and admit it was me. Sorry Mom!
In 1994 Dad got the job doing Play by Play for the Florida Panthers, so we moved to South Florida, and I became a Florida Panthers Fan. Pavel Bure & Dino Ciccarelli were my favourite Panthers! Last year, I was lucky enough to be at Dino’s Induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and I also still believe that Pavel Bure is next!
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to work in the sports/hockey industry?
JR: At first I wanted to be an NHL player, but when I was 15, I finally realized that I wasn’t good enough. So I decided to do the next best thing and that was to be an announcer in Hockey.
PH: Prior to joining NHL Home Ice, where else did you cover sports/hockey?
JR: I started my broadcasting career doing Play by Play & Colour for the Hemphill Pontiac Summerside Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League in Prince Edward Island. I had the privilege of doing most games with George Matthews, who now does Radio Play by Play on Columbus Blue Jackets Games.
After a couple months, I moved back to Florida to be the Video Guy for the Florida Panthers Coaching Staff. It was a fun job! I’d go to games, and sit in the Management Suite with Panthers Assistant Coach Joe Cirella and take notes during the game on Faceoff wins/losses, giveaways/takeaways, hits and time of goals and who scored. Also, Joe would be on a headset with the other Assistant Coach Duane Sutter, who might ask us to mark down the time of a play that he wants to go over with one of the players the following morning at practice. Then after each game, I’d take all the notes and drive to Gold Coast Ice Arena in Pompano Beach, FL and put together Video of all the notes, sometimes staying their till 2am.
After the season ended, I got hired by a production company to produce the Radio Show “Inside the NHL” which was syndicated nationally in Canada & the US with Jeff Rimer & John Davidson. It was my first producing Job, and I loved it. I was only 19 and still a little wet behind the ears, but I loved booking guests. After two years, the show lost its American Syndicator, and the show ended.
I then moved to Los Angeles, and started producing radio shows at Fox Sports Radio. It was a different experience, where Hockey didn’t get much attention, because of The Lakers, Dodgers, the NFL and College Football & Basketball. I did enjoy doing shows on the Fox Pico Lot, where you never know who was going to be in the elevator. It was quite enjoyable sharing an Elevator with the likes of Jim Rome, John Madden, Terry Bradshaw, William H. Macy, Calista Flockhart, Robert Downey Jr, and even the band Color Me Badd! I was star struck, but yet, I was really missing being around Hockey.
I decided I wanted to be in a Top Hockey Market, where everyone loved talking about hockey! So I moved to one of the best….Toronto. Since being in Toronto the last 10 years, I’ve worked for The Fan 590, Sportsnet, TSN, AM640, CBC HNIC and Leafs TV.
PH: How did you get a gig at NHL Home Ice?
JR: I’ve been producing Live from Wayne Gretzky’s the last 4 out of 5 years and have known Joe Thistel since I moved to Toronto, so when he asked me about helping out ‘The Powerplay’ w/ Scott Laughlin I was more then interested!
PH: What are your primary responsibilities at NHL Home Ice?
JR: I produce ‘The Breakaway’ w/ Gord Stellick, help book guests for ‘The Powerplay’ w/ Scott Laughlin & still produce ‘Live From Wayne Gretzky’s’ on Saturdays.
PH: What is it like working with Gord Stellick? What have you been able to learn from him?
JR: I’ve known Gord since 2001 when we both worked at the Fan 590. Gord was doing afternoons, and I produced Mike Hogan’s show right before so we were always together in the Producer ‘Bullpen’. Gord is awesome to work with! He’s very easy going and has so many great stories, and knows everyone! I’ve learned so much from him about the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Harold Ballard Years.
PH: Overall, tell us what it is like to work at NHL Home Ice?
JR: It’s a fantastic place to work. Everyone here is great to work with, and how can you not like talking hockey every minute of the day with all these great people!
PH: Biggest name guest you’ve ever booked on a show?
JR: Sports wise, Bob Costas, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Phil Esposito, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe, Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken, Gary Carter, Tom Brady, Jim Brown, and Magic Johnson to name a few.
Celebrity Wise, Jessie Jackson, Burt Reynolds, Tim Robbins, Susan Surandon, Hugh Hefner, President Ford, President Bush, Alice Cooper, Michael Buble, DB Sweeney, Chad Lowe, Evel Knievel, and Larry King. Evel, actually had his final interview with Jim Tatti & Ric Nattress on ‘Live from Wayne Gretzky’s 5 days before he passed away. He came on and told us he was in his final days, which we were surprised to learn.
PH: Craziest Job you’ve ever had?
JR: I’d have to say Picking up Rubber Rats on the Ice after Florida Panthers Goals during their 1996 Stanley Cup run. A close second, was being a batboy for the away teams at Camden Yards in Baltimore. I got to shake President Clinton’s hand when he threw out the first pitch on opening day.
PH: Something people don’t know about you or your family?
JR: Harrison Ford worked for my Grandfather’s building Corporation in Los Angeles as a Carpenter before becoming a big time actor.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.