by Patrick Hoffman on 03/28/10 at 09:57 PM ET
Starkey has covered the game for awhile under various outlets and was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into the game, how he got into covering the game, and his thoughts on this year’s edition of the Caps.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
TS: My father was from Buffalo, and he had played hockey growing up, so he took me to a Capitals-Sabres game in 1980 at the old Capital Centre when I was eight, and I was hooked. I ended up starting to play when a year later in Fairfax, Va., and then ended up playing travel hockey for the Northern Virginia Hockey Club through high school.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
TS: Growing up in Washington, I was a big Capitals fan, and our family had season tickets at the Cap Centre. I had a couple of favorites, my first was Ryan Walter—who promptly got traded to Montreal for some guy named Rod Langway—and then my favorite Caps were Mike Gartner and Mike Ridley.
However, because I had moved from New England as a kid, I also followed the Hartford Whalers closely, and was a big fan of their big stars of Sylvain Turgeon, Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen. I was even was integral in getting one of my house teams to name themselves after the Whale.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be involved in hockey as a writer/blogger?
TS: In high school, I was the sports editor, and used to do some hockey columns, even though the Caps didn’t enjoy the same stature that they do right now in the area. I also worked for the American University Eagle in college, and got a chance to intern with the Capitals’ communications department during the 1993-94 season, which helped introduce me to the business of professional hockey.
PH: Name the outlets you have covered hockey for.
TS: I started off with my own short-lived hockey magazine, Washington Hockey Report, in 1995, and quickly discovered it was cheaper and more effective to bring it to the web, so I founded WashingtonHockey.com. I then did a column for AOL Digital City Washington in 1998, and partnered my site with Rivals.com in 1999, and helped also found BuffaloHockeyReport.com when I moved to western New York.
After that, I did feature stories for USAHockey.com from 2002 to 2003, doing features at all levels of hockey from the NHL to NCAA hockey to juniors. After that, I took a job at AOL in 2003, and did columns and stories for AOL Sports and eventually AOL FanHouse until I left in 2009. I started my own blog, CapCentre.net, then started at the Times last October, and began resuming my hockey writing for them in January.
PH: How did you get your current gig with the Washington Times? Tell us about your experience there so far.
TS: I actually started with the Times as a Continuous News editor in October, being primarily in charge of helping to maintaining the paper’s entire web site, from news to politics to local to putting the web version of the sports page every night. There were changes made at the paper around New Year’s which impacted the sports staff, and I was approached a few weeks after that to resume my old duties along with writing sports features.
Since I had ample experience covering the Capitals, and the team is currently the biggest local sports story, it’s worked out nicely to write about the team on a regular basis. But I’ve also had the chance to write about everything from the NFL to NASCAR to the Vancouver Olympics, and will also be doing some work on the upcoming baseball season in addition to my regular duties helping to maintain the site and Capitals playoff coverage.
PH: What are you looking to provide readers who come to The Washington Times to read your work on the Capitals?
TS: I think I offer a unique perspective from the team, as I’ve been watching them for the better part of three decades and can draw on the experience in my stories. The Caps are more popular right now than they’ve ever been in this market, as they have a combination of being the only winning team in town, the biggest star in town, and a lot of discontent with the Redskins, Nationals and Wizards.
The Capitals were a strong second to the Redskins during the heyday in the 1980s, but the fan base became a bit blase after years of early playoff exits despite some very good regular seasons. I feel that I have a connection with that era of Capitals hockey to put the current edition in perspective, particularly with the group’s success so far this year.
PH: Now for some actual hockey talk - why have the Capitals been so good this season?
TS: The team stuck to its guns during the rebuilding period by stockpiling draft picks and getting a good core of young players like Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green as the centerpiece of their team. The team came into its own in 2007 once Bruce Boudreau introduced his system to the Capitals, and the team took another step last season. After losing Bill Guerin to the Penguins at the trading deadline last March, the team this summer went out and got what it was lacking—a forward who would crash the net in Mike Knuble.
Right now, the Caps are a very deep club offensively, and have been able to outscore their opponents when they’ve fallen behind in games. Their weaknesses, the defense and goaltending, has been better than expected as well, as Jose Theodore has played very well the last few months in his contract year.
PH: How far can these Caps’ go in the playoffs? Could this be the year they win their first Cup?
TS: The big question for the Capitals’ postseason hopes is how they handle the pressure of being the top seed, and how they adjust to the playoff style of hockey.
Washington learned a big lesson last year against the Rangers, as they seemed to take New York lightly until it was almost too late, and really were out of gas by the time Game 7 against Pittsburgh rolled around.
I’ve always thought the playoff matchups were more important than actual seeding, and team that has quality goaltending and a solid defensive system would pose the biggest threat to the Caps in a seven-game series. Teams like Buffalo and New Jersey would give them a tough time in the postseason, and the team will have to adapt to advance to the Finals for the first time in 12 years.
That said, this is the best Capitals team I’ve seen since the teams of the mid-1980s, and the expectations are high for them to do well in the playoffs.
PH: Any words of wisdom for readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
TS: Keep up the good work! Hockey is fortunate to have a great blogging community, and it keeps its fans among the best-informed of any sport. There’s so many good sources of information out there now for fans, and it’s a great time to be a fan of the sport.
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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.