by Patrick Hoffman on 06/16/09 at 12:14 PM ET
As promised, below is an e-mail interview I did with Jim Cerny, beat writer for the New York Rangers’ website. Jim has been around the game for awhile and it certainly shows in his writing/broadcasting of our great game.
To see how the interview turned out and to learn more about this great hockey writer/broadcaster, please read below.
PH: How did you first get into hockey?
JC: I am a fan of all sports, but hockey has always been special to me. I grew up in the pre-cable TV days so I would listen to Marv Albert call Rangers games on the radio, and even remember listening to John Sterling calling Islanders and Raiders (WHA)! Channel 9 would broadcast some Rangers and Islanders road games, but it was mainly through radio and reading the newspapers that I became such a big hockey fan. And of course growing up in Queens, there was plenty of street hockey. My best friend and I would spend hour after hour playing one-on-one. We became masters of the shootout long before there was a shootout in the NHL!
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team and player? Why?
JC: I grew up a Rangers fan, though I would also go to Islanders games, too. I just loved the game so much, plus I thought Chico Resch’s old Islanders mask was really cool! But the Rangers were always my team, which is ironic when you think of years later my big break in the sports business was to become the play-by-play broadcaster for the Islanders! As far as favorite players…when I was really little, I liked Brad Park and Rick Middleton a lot, and was subsequently crushed when they were traded to Boston! As I got older, the one player I really liked a lot was Don Maloney. Irony strikes again because when I began my radio gig with the Islanders, Donny was the general manager on the Island, and I got to know first-hand what a great man he is. Over the course of my career in hockey, I’d have to say my favorite players have been Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Wayne Gretzky, of course, and now Alex Ovechkin (love the way he plays the game). Nicest guys to deal with professionally have been Richter, Mariusz Czerkawski (when I was with the Isles), Kevin Lowe, Tom Renney, Stephen Valiquette, Henrik Lundqvist, and Neil Smith.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to get involved in hockey as a member of the media?
JC: After college, when I was working with Sports Phone as an announcer and a reporter, I saw an opportunity for me in hockey. Not many reporters—-certainly none at WFAN—-really knew, or cared about, hockey. So there was a void that needed to be filled. I created a hockey talk show on my own—-Rink Rap—-and really forged my identity that way throughout the NHL. Everything that has happened since spawned from my creating Rink Rap and the success that show had over the next four years.
PH: Prior to joining NewYorkRangers.com, what other outlets did you cover hockey for?
JC: I covered all three local area hockey teams as a radio reporter for many years, and then as host of Rink Rap. Chris Botta over at the Islanders gave me the opportunity to fill in for Barry Landers on some broadcasts, and eventually I became host of the pre-game, intermission, and post-game shows. In 1997, I was named as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Islanders. After that, I covered the NHL for The New York Times, and was the original host of NHL Live on Sirius Satellite Radio. The lockout forced me into a full-time gig as the assistant general manager of the Newark Bears minor league baseball team, before I re-emerged the past two seasons on the hockey scene, serving as the beat writer for newyorkrangers.com. I also freelance for several other outlets, and fill-in on NHL Live, which is now aired on Sirius/XM and The NHL Network.
PH: Describe your gig at NewYorkRangers.com for us.
JC: Working at newyorkrangers.com has been great. I enjoy it so much. Basically during the season I write game stories, features, and game previews, and also get to do some on-camera work for the On Demand section. Next season we are hoping to establish a weekly Rangers podcast talk show which I would host. But I cover practices for my stories, and attend the games, of course. What has really been fun for me has been researching and writing stories on the 15th anniversary of the 1994 Stanley Cup, and on the jersey retirements of Brian Leetch and Adam Graves. I covered that ’94 team the whole way, even making the treks out to Vancouver during The Finals, so I have many special memories from that time, and now to be able to write about them many years later has been an awesome experience. I am also looking forward to covering the NHL Draft for newyorkrangers.com next week.
PH: What are you trying to bring Ranger/hockey fans that read your work on the site?
JC: My game stories come from the eye of a play-by-play broadcaster. I try to be very descriptive in how I detail what took place so that if you did not see the game, you still feel like you did after reading my story. I also try and be very honest, and I credit the Rangers organization in letting me be that way even when things are not going so well for the team. With the stories on Leetch, Graves, and the ’94 Cup, I try to weave my personal memories into the stories. Fortunately, I kept very good notes from that time and never discarded them over the years!!
PH: What other hockey outlets are you currently contributing to?
JC: I also write for The Fourth Period magazine, and am a columnist at the fourthperiod.com. Those are my regular gigs. I handle other freelance projects as they come up!
PH: Now for some actual hockey talk: What are your thoughts on this year’s playoffs for the Blueshirts - surprises, disappointments, etc.?
JC: The spring of ’09 was a mixed bag for the Rangers. They were lucky to be up 3-1 on the Caps, Lundqvist really put them in that position. But that said, they still needed to find a way to finish off the Caps. You can’t just say “Well, the Rangers were lucky to even be in it, Washington was the better team anyway, blah, blah”. When you are up 3-1, you must finish the other team off. However, I think Torts will use this past spring as a real learning tool for next season. And there were positives, most notably the play of youngsters like Dubinsky and Callahan and Staal and Girardi down the stretch and into the post-season. That’s not only the team’s future, it’s the present, as well.
PH: What do you think the Blueshirts need to do in order to get better next season? Is trading Scott Gomez or even Chris Drury an answer?
JC: Because of the salary cap, and with having so much money tied up in Gomez, Drury, Redden, Rozsival, and Lundqvist, the Rangers really need some younger (cheaper!) players to emerge as front-line players. That, of course, is asking a lot. But Dubinsky, Callahan, Staal, and Girardi must all take the next step, and then guys like Gilroy, Anisimov, Del Zotto, Grachev, and Sanguinetti have to be high-level players at the NHL level. If not, the Rangers are going to remain in the middle of the pack for years to come.
PH: Any words of wisdom for Kukla’s Korner readers out there?
JC: I don’t know that I have words of wisdom! But I would just like to thank the fans for their kind words and support over the years. They have always been so kind to me, and I am very appreciative of them and that fact. Enjoy the off-season, and we’ll see you in training camp!
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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.