Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

An E-mail Interview with the Great Jeff Marek

I’ve been really luck to do e-mail interviews with a lot of great hockey personalities.

Today is no different as Jeff Marek of CBC was kind enough to take time out of his hectic schedule to tell us about how he got into the game, how he got into working in hockey for a living and his current thoughts on the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Take it away, Jeff:

PH: How did you get into hockey?
JM: Like everyone else here, I grew up a hockey fan and have never known a world without hockey in it. Not just NHL but junior, minor, Euro, roller (was a HUGE fan of the RHI; where have you gone Toronto Planets? I went to every game) – all of it.

But to be honest, I never thought I’d be involved in a professional capacity with hockey. I went to University of Guelph with aims at doing my PhD and becoming an English professor, which many have pointed out is ironic considering how I constantly butcher our language. After getting my B.A in ’95, I took a summer job in the promotions department of a sports radio station (FAN 590) in Toronto and that’s where it began.

Year after year, I put off the PhD and stuck it out learning radio. Within a year, I had a weekend overnight show on the air with George Stroumboulopoulos (now host of The Hour) and Bob Mackowyz Jr (morning host for CBC Radio 2) called “Game”. That’s where it began.

PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
JM: Toronto Maple Leafs fan growing up and Mike Palmateer was my hero. I clipped out every picture, saved every article and as a young goalie tried to be him in every way. Used the same mitt, stick, pads. He was my guy. 

Also, the Toronto Toros of the WHA were and still are near and dear to my heart. The Toro’s were the first pro hockey team I ever saw live at Maple Leaf Gardens and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was against the Quebec Nordiques. Wayne Wood was the starting goalie and across the ice he faced Richard Brodeur. That Toro’s team had Mark Napier, Vaclav Nedomansky (one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen), Frank Mahovlich, Pete Marrin and Paul Henderson. Quebec had the WHA’s top sniper Marc Tardiff along with J.C Tremblay (Ron MacLean’s mothers favourite hockey player), Gordie “Machine Gun” Gallant (Harry Neale’s least favourite hockey player I suspect), Real Cloutier and Rejean Houle.

PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to cover hockey for a living?
JM: I think as soon as I started at the FAN it became a career dream/goal. When we were just starting in the business, Stroumboulopoulos and I made a bet to see who would get on HNiC first, both thinking it was a long shot. After George got the gig hosting the Hour, he reminded me of our wager. Damn, he was getting closer.

Then one night, I was having a drink with friends in a Yorkville bar called the Pilot when George sends me a text saying “tell the bartender to switch to CBC”. Hockey Night was just starting the season with a game in Ottawa and guess who the second intermission guest was? He won. Prick.

PH: What outlets have you covered hockey for?
JM: Not that many. Not much at The FAN but at AM640 in Toronto, I hosted Leafs Lunch (a daily noon hour hockey talk show now hosted by Darren Dreger) for 5 years with Bill Watters.

PH: What is your current gig at CBC? What are your responsibilities?
JM: Hockey Night in Canada radio show Monday to Friday from 4-7pmET. iDesk w/Scott Morrison on all our hockey Night TV broadcasts, anchor morning sports on CBC News Network, and there’s also an online show we started this year, Hockey Night Online” that I’m part of.  It’s a long day.

PH: What is it like to work in hockey? How much are you able to enjoy what you do?
JM: I’ve never had a day where I didn’t enjoy what I do. The minute I stop liking this, I’m out. I’ll go work at the post office or something (I hear they need help around Christmas). The best part about the job is it doesn’t feel like a job. And like I always say when someone comments about my gig “it beats working for a living”.

PH: Now for some actual hockey talk – what will the fate of the Vancouver Canucks, and Montreal Canadiens be in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
JM: Love both the VAN/CHI and HABS/PITT series’. MTL is in tough with a team that can adapt to different styles of play, which the Capitals weren’t able to. I think this is the end of the road for the Habs.  The clock is close to ticking midnight.

And I expect Vancouver/Chicago to be a thrilling combination of blood and guts hockey (don’t lose the recipe for ice, these guys will need it after the games) and skill.  Always good when two team genuinely despise one another.

PH: What do the other Canadian teams – Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames have to do during the offseason to improve?
JM: Oilers need to forget about right now. Right now is all about developing for the future. Having said that, there is a real danger rushing too many kids to the NHL all at the same time. Jordan Eberle may be good enough to make the Oil out of camp but I still think he should start the season in Oklahoma City with plans for a recall before Christmas. And Tyler Seguin should be the player they draft. Help down the middle is a must.

Leafs will continue their rebuild through free agents this summer. A wise man (I don’t want to say who, but let’s just say his initials are Elliotte Friedman) told me the Leafs covet Raffi Torres and will look to sign him July 1st.

I think the Flames need new ideas on top. New vision, new plan and it may be time to move Jarome Iginla.

PH: Any words of wisdom for readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
JM: Start a blog. Create an online radio show. Get a twitter account. There are so many more resources available to people now to greater attach themselves to a great sport and an even greater community around it.

Don’t worry if your blog is only read by your cat when he walks by your lap top; don’t sweat it if the TSL (time spent listening) to your online radio show is a minute and a half. Just start and don’t get frustrated. Ignore the haters, they’re out there.

Let David Singer, curator of http://www.hockeyfights.com be an inspiration to you. He took a love of hockey scraps and turned it into something huge. The guy is a hero.

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: cbc, jeff+marek, nhl


DigitalGypsy66's avatar

Great interview.  Thanks, Patrick.

Posted by DigitalGypsy66 on 05/03/10 at 04:00 PM ET


I was talking to a Torres family member yesterday afternoon and he is hoping to come to Toronto. His benching during the Sabres game was not well received.

Posted by Hendy from Toronto on 05/03/10 at 04:17 PM ET

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About Goal Line Report

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 patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.