by Patrick Hoffman on 07/28/11 at 10:45 AM ET
Scott was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became a hockey writer, how he got the gig at ESPN.com as well as his thoughts on what has gone on during this offseason in the NHL.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
SB: I have always been a fan growing up in northern and then southwestern Ontario. I was, however, a news writer for a long time before becoming a sports columnist and then specifically a hockey writer. Until I moved to Atlanta in the summer of 2003 I played poorly but regularly both in men’s leagues and pick-up. I was not a nice player. I still have a deformed collar bone after one incident that involved a trip via ambulance to a Toronto-area hospital that is a constant reminder that karma is indeed a, well, you know.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite player and team?
SB: When I was five or six, I received a table hockey game for Christmas and my father and I played constantly. He was Toronto and I was Montreal. Always. Thus I became a Canadiens fan and specifically a Ken Dryden fan. There is a picture of me somewhere with an old wool sweater with my chin resting on my hockey stick a la Dryden.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a hockey writer?
SB: There was no real epiphany or anything like that. I had been a hard news reporter for a long time. I covered a big Canadian murder trial and wrote a book about it and needed a change. I became a sports columnist and then a general sports writer in Toronto and ultimately a hockey writer covering the Leafs and the NHL. It was more a process than a calling.
PH: Prior to joining ESPN.com, what outlets did you cover hockey for?
SB: I covered hockey among other things as a columnist at The Windsor Star before being hired when The National Post launched in Toronto in the fall of 1998. I covered hockey there before I was part of layoffs there in the fall of 2001 (I was actually in St. John’s Newfoundland on 9/11 waiting for the Leafs to arrive for training camp but that’s another story). I wrote freelance for The Hockey News, The Ottawa Citizen, The Sporting News, USA Today and anyone else who had a few sheckels to throw my way including ESPN.com.
PH: How did you get a hockey writing gig at ESPN.com?
SB: After contributing on a regular basis, I started writing more or less full-time for ESPN.com around the time of the lockout. Since the lockout, I have been the national hockey writer and I was joined a couple of years ago by my good friend Pierre LeBrun.
PH: What do you try bring readers on a daily basis?
SB: I guess I try and think of the things that would be interesting for me to read as a fan and then try and produce something that approximates that. Sometimes that means something traditional in terms of reporting and writing and sometimes that means offering an opinion on what is transpiring in the hockey world. The great thing about hockey is that there rarely seems to be a dull moment.
PH: Now for some actual hockey talk. What do you think have been the biggest surprises this off-season? Why?
SB: Well I think the Flyers’ moves have been the most dramatic. When you move two of your top forwards including your captain and sign a goaltender you hope will erase decades of goaltending futility, well, that’s a busy summer.
PH: In your opinion, name three or four teams that you think have improved and three or four teams you think have gotten worse in the off-season.
SB: I think Florida has improved although the bar’s been set pretty low there, no?
I think the Capitals have added some pieces that may yet get them over the playoff hump.
And while you can argue that the Sabres overpaid for pieces like Christian Erhoff and Ville Leino, I think they are better than a year ago.
As for teams not keeping up, I should have learned not to question David Poile in Nashville but I still wonder about where the offense is going to come from.
Not sure Semyon Varlamov/J.S. Giguere solve the significant goaltending problem in Denver.
I think it’s still going to be a tough road for Dave Tippett and the Phoenix Coyotes who will never be fully right until the ownership situation is resolved there.
PH: What is your opinion on the long-term contracts that are being thrown out there by NHL general managers? Why are so many GM’s willing to take a risk?
SB: GMs are all singular in their focus; what do they have to do to be better than the next guy? If one of the tools in their GM belt is offering six, eight, 10-year deals, then they’ll do it because if they don’t the next guy will. Frankly I’m not troubled by it. Paul Holmgren showed this summer that there is no such as a contract too big to be traded. So did Stan Bowman in trading Brian Campbell etc. etc.
PH: Anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
SB: Uh. Nothing that wouldn’t make me sound uncomfortably like Eddie Haskell. Thanks.
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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.