by Patrick Hoffman on 08/09/11 at 06:31 PM ET
It is my pleasure to bring to you another e-mail interview I conducted with someone in the hockey media.
This time, it is Rory Boylen, the web editor of The Hockey News’ s web site. Rory was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he got a great gig with THN as well as his thoughts on the offseason.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
RB: Like many people, I got into hockey in Canada through the minor hockey system, but that’s not the only reason I stayed glued to it. I’m 28 and for the past 21 years we have had a rink in the back yard at my parents house. When we go home for Christmas my dad, brothers and I still build it. We’d have friends over for games, especially on Saturday nights. My brothers and I would also have a competition of who could skate for the most days in a row. I don’t remember what the highest number was or who won, but I’ll say I did. In my teen years I started refereeing and did that for 10 years. It was a challenge, but a lot of fun and I miss it now. So many things got me into hockey and I like to think I’ve seen the game from a bunch of different angles.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player? Why?
RB: My family is all Bruins fans and living an hour north of Toronto you find yourself cheering for the Maple Leafs, too. But I really broke the mold when I decided I’d root for the Florida Panthers. That solidified the year they made it to the Cup final since my best friend was a Nordiques/Avalanche fan – what a painful loss that was. Favorite player is a tough question because I usually don’t have one until they really grow on me. Looking back, it has to be Brendan Shanahan.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to work in the hockey industry?
RB: Well, I always wanted to work in the hockey industry, I just didn’t know where I would fit in. I was in school with the idea I wanted to be a history teacher, but somewhere along the line I realized I had a knack for writing and editing and something clicked: Maybe that’s what I could take into hockey.
PH: How were you able to get a job at The Hockey News?
RB: I was actually an intern here for a couple months straight out of school before landing a job at TV Guide Canada. Still, I’d do whatever assignment I could for THN when possible and after a couple of years an opportunity opened up I was lucky enough to receive.
PH: What are your current responsibilities?
RB: I’m the web editor, so I mostly work on that side of the product. Planning what’s ahead for us, forming a schedule, managing who is doing what and editing everything that comes through. I also have my own weekly column and do a few features here and there as well. I also like to step in and help on the magazine side whenever I can. I like to think I’m a jack of all trades.
PH: What are you looking to bring to hockey fans each and every day at The Hockey News?
RB: Something interesting; something they’ll want to read. We want to bring something new and cover the entire league, not just one city or region and I think we do a good job of that. If you’re a fan of the game, you’ll be able to find something you want to read on our site.
PH: Now onto some actual hockey talk. What have been the biggest surprises this offseason?
RB: Jaromir Jagr actually coming back to the NHL – and to Philadelphia no less! Jagr was in his prime when I was a kid, so I have this bit of nostalgia attached to him. We’ve heard for a couple years he wanted to come back, but it just didn’t seem like it was in the cards. I was ecstatic to hear he was following through on the speculation this year though - I just hope he continues to surprise us by returning to the ice with a mullet. I was also surprised the Devils decided on Pete DeBoer as their coach because he didn’t seem like their type of guy. And, of course, the Mike Richards trade shocked everyone I think.
PH: Why do you think that NHL GM’s are still willing to give out long-term contracts? Don’t you think that in today’s NHL, that is a bit of a risk?
RB: I think GMs are willing to do it partly because it helps soften the salary cap hit. It’s absolutely a big risk, which is why it’s something I only believe you should do for your A1 franchise player, the guy you want as the face of your team with the undeniable skills to back it up. I’ve always been a proponent of the long-term deals for these types of players because it attaches him to the city and its fan base. But I think it only makes sense for the best of the best players and not every team has one of those. I can’t understand Buffalo’s decision to tie itself to Christian Ehrhoff for that long – he’s a good defenseman and everything, but he’s far from a franchise guy. I also wouldn’t ever give one to a goaltender, because as risky as it is for a skater, goalies are more unpredictable in both play and with injuries. Why on earth did the Flyers sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a contract like that? I think a lot of people are asking that question.
These kind of deals are risky for any player, but it’s not often you acquire guys such as Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and the like, so why not align yourself with them when you get them? Yes it’s risky, but every Stanley Cup champion made a risky roster move at some point along the way. You may as well go all-in and make it with your best.
PH: In your opinion, which teams have improved the most this offseason? How about gotten worse?
RB: It’s funny, but when I look up and down the NHL rosters I just don’t feel as though any team will take a great leap forward because of its off-season transactions. Los Angeles surely made itself better, but I still don’t think they’re quite there with Vancouver, San Jose or Detroit. I think St. Louis is going to improve, but that’s more because of their natural progression and the fact they can’t have as many injuries again. Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh also intrigue me, but they were good to begin with.
As for the other way, I think Phoenix is really in trouble. It’s a shame after the past two years the team had to come apart like it did. The West is tough enough and now they don’t even have a Vezina candidate to help them through the grind. Dave Tippett and Dave King are certainly the wild cards there though – they’re capable of getting more out of this team than they should.
PH: Anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
RB: I had an opportunity this summer to spend two weeks in Ekaterinburg, Russia for Pavel Datsyuk’s kids hockey camp. Not only was it an amazing experience for me to travel so far, but to see him deal with the kids up close was an extraordinary sight. He’s the most unknown NHL superstar, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. His sense of humor is something you hear about and it’s even better up close. Overall, it was quite an amazing experience and I was able to see and do a number of unique things. There are so many stories about that trip and about Pavel – and some of them will appear in an upcoming edition of THN the magazine.
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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.