by Patrick Hoffman on 01/19/11 at 11:37 PM ET
With the 2011 NHL Draft about five months away, I figured now was a good time to check in with a hockey blogger who covers junior hockey and prospects as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His name is Brian Huddle. On the night of the CHL Prospects game at the Air Canada Centre, Mr. Huddle was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he got into blogging, which outlets he blogs for as well as his thoughts on junior hockey and the Leafs.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
BH: The story is the same as any other Canadian boy from Ontario. My dad loved hockey and had me put into skating fairly young. I was put into an actual league by the age of 6. Played most of my life at various levels of the sport, and just fell in love with the freedom of being on the ice.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
BH: Before people boo me, yes, I did grow up a Leafs fan. I’m from Toronto and it’s just how you get raised—especially when Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clarke, Mats Sundin were all here around that time. Toronto was buzzing with Leafs Pride, and so it felt right for my parents to raise me that way.
However, I fell in love with defensemen pretty early on; specifically Scott Stevens. I liked tough hockey, and guys like him portrayed that well.
To this day, I consider Stevens and Doug Gilmour my favorite players to play the game.
PH: When did you know that you wanted to be involved in hockey as a writer/blogger?
BH: It wasn’t too long ago. My playing career was cut short in my teens, and so I had sort of abandoned the dream of hockey. I was kinda trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after finishing high school. Things hadn’t gone well in certain ‘ideas’ and my mother, at the time, mentioned hockey and writing - two things I loved.
To make a long story short, I started a small blog, and things snowballed into some paying gigs and here I am.
PH: Tell us about the various hockey blogs/sites that you are writing/blogging for and what your responsibilities at each blog are.
BH: Well at the moment, I’m a blogger on HockeyBuzz.com as well as RLDHockey.net. I also work as a correspondant on IntheORadio.com, an OHL based Radio Show.
For HockeyBuzz I’m the “NHL And CHL Prospects” guy. Simply put, I write about guys in the CHL, give readers ideas of what to expect from them as they develop, and sometimes throw an interview or two in. Prospects and Junior Hockey is so under appreciated at times, mostly because there’s a lack of knowledge there from the fans. Not many really follow it, which I completely understand. So I try to bring it to the forefront—it’s good hockey.
With RLD, I tend to just share thoughts and opinions on the NHL season, and stories that I’ve been following. Whether I’m writing about the surprising season of the Dallas Stars, or who I think is going to win the Norris, it’s usually just opinion articles.
PH: What do you think the future of hockey blogs are? How do you think they will end up playing a prominent role in the coverage of the sport?
BH: Hockey Blogging will always be there. We’ll always see guys doing it for the fun of it from their laptop (or mom’s basement ) as a hobby. With the Internet, people always have something to say behind the comfort of a screen.
The way of the blog is changing though. Money is so hard to come by in the blogging world—because with hockey, the money is in broadcasting. Guys like LeBrun get paid also from ESPN having their broadcasting division to help fund the blogging.
In that light, we’re seeing a shift with many sites to video blogging and podcasting. This generation of 20-somethings tend not to want to read, but want some fort of listening or watching.
PH: We know you are into hockey prospects so give us your thoughts on Team Canada’s performance at the World Junior Championships.
BH: What a heart break for those Canadian kids—but I have to give Russia credit for THREE come from behind wins to get the Gold.
Not to sound like a homer, because Russia did win that game fair and square, but I truly feel, as do many, that Canada was the better team. They just took their feet off the gas. It was easy to see in the 3rd that they were completely winded. It came out that Brayden Schenn was playing with a separated shoulder, and many others were banged up. They had played a lot of hockey and grinded it out every game. They were simply exhausted.
At the end of the day, Russia winning is good for the Tournament. It helps break down the notion that it’s a one team tournament.
PH: In your opinion, who will be the top five picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft?
BH: I actually wrote a blog on what I think the Top 30 will be. Check it out here.
I really like a few of the guys available. While Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has some filling out to do, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to 3rd Overall pick in 2009, Matt Duchene, as well as the comparison to Joe Sakic.
My Top 5 would be, in this order, Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joel Armia.
PH: We also know that you cover the Toronto Maple Leafs. What are some of your general thoughts on the season?
BH: Boy oh boy. Gotta feel for Leafs fans sometimes—it finally looked like they were headed for respectability with the four straight wins, and have come back down to Earth. But at the end of the day, this team simply isn’t very good on paper, yet. There’s a lot of question marks and a gaping hole down the Center Ice position.
The one comforting thing is that the Leafs Prospect Cupboard is seeing some stocking for the first time in ten plus years. And nobody can question Burke’s desire to win, and his ability to make trades. Not another GM out there who’s made as much change in their club in the past 2 years as he has.
Leaf fans just need some patience. Vancouver, the Cup favorite for many analysts, is a Burke-Nonis team. They laid the foundation and the core of that team, save for a Hamhuis here and a Samuelsson there. It took years to see some of those players turn into what Burke had envisioned. Give Brian some time, fans, before throwing him and Wilson under the bus.
PH: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
BH: Thoughts… thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. Watch more Junior Hockey. Support your team no matter what, and be positive in life.
Also, check me out on my Social Networking pages, and we chat puck all day long.
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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.