by Patrick Hoffman on 02/18/10 at 02:52 PM ET
As I have mentioned to you before, I was once the copy editor and a contributor to the excellent New York Rangers fan publication, Blueshirt Bulletin.
It is my pleasure to introduce Daniel Akeson, the man at the helm of Blueshirt Bulletin. He was kind enough to take some time and tell us how he got into hockey/the Rangers, how he got involved in hockey as a writer/blogger, his role (s) at Blueshirt Bulletin as well as his current thoughts on the team:
PH: How did you get into hockey?
DA: I, like many who love the sport, grew up with it. My family was heavily involved with it. My grandfather recalls the old Gardens in the city and watching not only the Rangers, but the Metro League games as well. Aside from playing, he coached youth hockey and when he moved out of the city and into Long Island, was influential in beginning several of the youth hockey programs that are still around today. When the Islanders expanded, he also worked with them to promote the club and get them involved with many of the community programs. In addition to that, my Uncle and Father both played and coached and continue to today. You could say I’ve grown up with it from all angles.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
DA: I grew up a die-hard Ranger fan. Silly as it sounds, since my mother is an Islanders fan, when I was born, my grandmother put two bibs in front of me, an Islanders one and a Rangers one. I chose Rangers, so I guess it was meant to be. It was all around me and it was easy during that era to latch onto certain players. As a hockey fan, I lived and died with Wayne Gretzky, not as much for his skill, but the way he thought the game out. I tried endlessly to emulate that with my own play. But as a Ranger fan, you couldn’t help but love Brian Leetch. I can officially say that one of the saddest moments as a Rangers fan was the announcement of his trade to Toronto and seeing him come back to MSG as a Bruin.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be involved in hockey as a writer/blogger?
DA: I always enjoyed writing and journalism. That, paired with my passion for hockey, eventually manifested itself in college into sports journalism. As a very self-aware person, I knew that the NHL was never going to happen for me as a player. Those who have seen me at adult rec hockey would agree! So I needed other avenues to pursue my passion. That led to sports journalism and coaching, two things that I truly love. Blogging came naturally as it was the first step. Aside from working with a successful college newspaper, nobody knew me from a hole in the wall. Therefore I had to put myself out there. Blogging was free and allowed me to interact at a variety of levels. Beginning with the catchy name “Pucks on Broadway” didn’t hurt either.
PH: Besides Blueshirt Bulletin, what other outlets have you covered hockey for?
DA: One of the great lessons I have learned in my short time as a hockey media guy is that it is very easy to take on too many tasks. Anytime anyone asked for me to contribute or write for them, I did it in a heartbeat. From a positive standpoint, I made some terrific contacts, got my name out there, and it led to other opportunities. For example, I worked with the websites such as Outside the Garden and Ranger Nation. This helped lead to more formal opportunities with The Hockey News, Stan Fischler, and the Official New York Rangers Fan Club. There are several terrific blogs and websites I have also contributed to, but these were of the greatest notoriety. But you can also get to a point where you are doing too much and your content becomes stale because you are stretching it so thin. So, I had to trim it down a bit and focus on who gave me the most exposure and where the most loyal fanbases were.
PH: How did you get the gig at Blueshirt Bulletin? What are your responsibilities?
DA: The Blueshirt Bulletin story is epic, if I don’t say so myself. Drama, intrigue, luck, it has it all! In reality, it was much of a right place at the right time scenario. At a very early age, I would mow my grandfather’s lawn on the weekends. Then, I would go to a local diner for breakfast and right next door was a small newsstand. I would spend my mowing dividends on a copy of the Blueshirt Bulletin and The Hockey News. Eventually, I would subscribe to both.
This would pop up later in life, while taking a writing course in my final semester in college. I had to do a presentation about a job I could foresee myself taking in the future. Thus, given my sports journalism background, I decided to give then-editor of Blueshirt Bulletin Dubi Silverstein a call. He was very accommodating and took the time out to answer all my questions. I ended the call by mentioning my journalism background and if he needed any help, I’d be happy to. He told me to call back in August. I did and he offered me the Copy Editor position. It wasn’t much money, but it affiliated me with a legitimate sports publication.
Truth be told, I came in with too much gusto and nearly lost the position after my first issue, but fortunately after a couple issues I got the process down and I think we put out a good product. After a year or so, I approached Dubi about expanding my role. Coincidentally, at the same time, he was looking to decrease his role and possibly pass on the publication. So, I began taking on some additional responsibilities, including taking over the main content on the Blueshirt Bulletin blog. He finished out the season and we spoke more formally about turning the magazine over to me in the offseason.
This past August, we came to an arrangement and made the transition final. Dubi agreed to stay on as a consultant and contributor and I agreed to take over the major responsibilities and day-to-day. So, I guess you could say I am now the captain of the ship. This includes everything from arranging stories, layout of the publication, accounting, subscriptions, advertising, and, of course, game coverage.
When Dubi said it was a one-man show, he wasn’t kidding. I am thankful that I have a few people around me who have been able to take on certain responsibilities such as Assistant Editor Greg Donahue, who does a lot of the multimedia work with our website and has begun taking on a greater role with the print.
PH: What do you try to bring readers who come to the site/subscribe to the pulication?
DA: Most people don’t realize that Blueshirt Bulletin has the same press or media access as the top beat writers. We can go to practices, games, and get credentialed at away games as well. This is difficult to distinguish from your average blogger. While, at this time, the budget doesn’t allow for much travel, we try to bring the most professional coverage that we can.
Those who come to the site, get the full gamut of coverage, particularly if you are a subscriber and receive access to Blueshirt Bulletin Plus, which includes post game quotes, additional multimedia, and daily links to everything Rangers. However, our publication is the show stopper. Most of the professional beat writers, such as Andrew Gross of The Record, Jim Cerny of NewYorkRangers.com, Steve Zipay of Newsday, and Dan Rosen of NHL.com, contribute monthly and provide unlimited and unbiased opinions and analysis of the Rangers. You simply can’t find that anywhere else.
As we continue to expand the publication, these assets will only be enhanced.
PH: What was it like to blog for Pucks on Broadway? How did that make you a better writer/blogger?
DA: Pucks on Broadway will always have a special place in my heart. I even incorporated it into Blueshirt Bulletin!
It was really my start and has so much to do with where I am today. While the blogging world doesn’t have the same editorial standards as print, it makes you a better writer because of the criticisms and standards of your readers and peers. If you make a mistake, they let you know. If they disagree, you are forced to justify your positions.
Those who are successful fan bloggers, two that come to mind are The Dark Ranger and Scotty Hockey, can merry these two aspects of blogging. They acknowledge their opinions and defend them and never disregard a reader’s comments or feelings.
PH: Now for some actual hockey talk - what can the Rangers do to improve?
DA: Finally! I am not used to all this attention! The Rangers’ inconsistency is enigmatic, but given that they are such a big market, they will look to improve come the trade deadline.
Obviously, they need some veteran leadership on defense, at least in the form of a seventh defenseman. Of course, New York has a flair for the dramatic so I wouldn’t put it past GM Glen Sather to pull off a bigger move as well, but they need a Jason Strudwick-type on the backend.
Additionally, they have a glut of fourth line talent, such as Aaron Voros and recently-acquired Brandon Prust and Jody Shelley. I would think that at least one of them won’t make it past March 3rd. One area that is often overlooked with the Rangers is their lack of left wingers. Between Hartford and the big club, the Rangers simply try to fit players into those roles rather than roster true left wingers. It wouldn’t surprise me if they try to pry one from Florida or perhaps even Colorado.
PH: Where do you see the Rangers finishing come April? How far do you think the team can go in the playoffs if they make it?
DA: The Rangers will make the playoffs so long as Henrik Lundqvist and Marian Gaborik come back from the Olympics healthy. Playoffs are about goaltending and Lundqvist can carry the team as far as he wants. I think, given the infusion of youth this season, that the Rangers won’t see much beyond the first round, but you never know. If they were able to shed either Wade Redden or Michal Rozsival’s contracts in favor of a middle-pairing defenseman and capable top-line center, they have a strong enough core to be in serious contention within the next couple seasons.
PH: Any words of wisdom for readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
DA: Kukla, and of course yourself Patrick, do a terrific job at presenting the facts. The age of internet-media makes it easy to skew, and often even forget, the hard facts. This is what separates someone who just wants to see and hear themselves think and those who are trying to present their thoughtful opinions. You have to attribute correctly and show where your opinions are coming from.
Personally, I am incredibly fortunate, but also a prime example of what can happen when you aren’t afraid to try. I never would have thought that I would be able to share a press conference or work a professional-NHL locker room with the greatest sports journalists in the world, let alone have them appear in my own hockey publication. I said to my good friend Stan Fischler once when he called me at home, “Stan, I remember watching you on TV and seeing you eating pastrami on rye next to me when I would go to Nassau Coliseum. Now you are calling me at home to talk hockey. It’s surreal.”
There’s a lot of opportunities out there, if you are willing to put in the time and maybe forego a paycheck with the mentality of working toward a greater goal.
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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.