by Patrick Hoffman on 04/27/11 at 03:08 PM ET
The hockey blog community is a tight knit group that allows bloggers to bounce ideas off each other, have healthy debates, and talk about the game we all know and love: hockey.
Today, I am proud to present an e-mail interview I did with Neil Keefe of WFAN.com. Keefe is a writer/blogger and podcaster for New York’s No. 1 sports radio station and frequently writes/blogs and podcasts about hockey and the New York Rangers.
Neil was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he got a gig at WFAN.com, and of course, his thoughts on the New York Rangers.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
NK: I started playing hockey when I was three years old and continued through high school and then a year of junior hockey (during senior year of high school) and then college hockey. My dad played growing up and my older brother too, so my family was a hockey family and I spent the majority of my childhood at rinks.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite Ranger?
NK: My favorite player growing up was actually Ray Bourque because my grandmother won an autographed stick of his in a raffle and gave it to me, so I thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever (I still have the stick). I was a Brian Leetch fan because he grew up in Connecticut like me and because he wore No. 2. My favorite players now are Chris Drury (also a Connecticut native and I got to watch him play when I was little), Marian Gaborik (became a fan in high school when he won the fastest skater competition with Minnesota and Brian Gionta (have been a fan of his since his time at Boston College).
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to work in the sports industry?
NK: I have wanted to work in the sports industry for as long as I can remember and really never wanted to do anything else. I grew up listening to Mike and the Mad Dog in the car on the way to hockey practices and games, thanks to my dad and his dad, and became infatuated with how they could control the New York sports scene. They were the pioneers of sports radio and you could say every sports radio show has taken something from their show.
My family has had a Daily News subscription, so I would always read Mike Lupica’s column and was fascinated at how he became the youngest columnist for a New York paper in the ‘70s when newspapers still monopolized how people got their information. As I got older I became a fan of Bill Simmons and how he revolutionized a way of writing from a fan perspective for a mainstream company.
PH: What are your primary responsibilities at WFAN.com?
NK: I started writing for WFAN.com in February 2010. I write a few columns a week under the title “Keefe To The City” that talk about all things New York sports and also host what’s usually a bi-weekly podcast on the site under the same name. I also recently started doing daily Yankees blogs to go along with the columns that will continue throughout the baseball season.
PH: What are you trying to bring readers on a daily basis?
NK: I want to give my readers a look at what I go through watching games of my favorite teams (Yankees, Giants, Rangers, Knicks) and the ups and downs of each season. I try to share with the readers how I view each sport and the way I look and think about things. Aside from sports, I like talking about movies, TV shows, music, current events, my social life and pretty much anything you could categorize under pop culture in my writing.
When I was younger I thought being a beat writer or reporter was the greatest job in the world because you got to go to every game for your job, but as I got older and started doing internships in college with ESPN Radio Boston, the Boston Herald, NESN and the New Haven Register, I began to realize how you have to give up your love for a team in the sport or sports you cover to fairly cover them. I didn’t want to compromise my love for any of the sports or my favorite teams, and I didn’t want sports to become solely a job and not fun, so I thought that writing about them from a fan’s perspective and my personal perspective would give me the best of both worlds.
PH: Now onto some actual hockey talk, what are your thoughts on the Rangers’ season?
NK: A lot of people are disappointed with the way the season ended and losing in the playoffs is devastating, but the Rangers weren’t expected to win the Stanley Cup this year and rightfully so. They had their chances to beat the Capitals and extend the series, but in the end you have to remember that this was a team that needed all 82 game to make the playoffs and then a Tampa Bay win over Carolina even after they completed their own schedule. Even if they got by the Capitals, they weren’t going to win the whole thing. There are just too many better teams that are currently ready to win the Cup.
The Rangers are set up nicely for the future and that’s something they haven’t been for a while. It seems like since the late ‘90s they have just been playing for their current season with no future in mind. It wasn’t until recently that Glen Sather finally started putting together the right pieces to build a team that could be a contender for several years rather than just a good team for one year.
PH: What do the Rangers need to do to improve next season?
NK: The Rangers defense is incredibly young, but this season was a good learning experience for a team that with a lot of players lacking postseason experience. The defense will continue to grow and should be one of the league’s best or the best in the near future. I’m just worried that by the time the defense reaches their potential and the offense finally gets someone who can put the puck in the net consistently that Henrik Lundqvist will be at the end of his prime or out of it completely. Lundqvist alluded to this the other day when he said it was the first time he realized that his chances to win the Cup are limited.
I think the Rangers just need an offense that can be relied on to score in 2011-12. Gaborik needs to step up and become a player that other teams fear every time he’s on the ice, and someone that when he’s on the ice you don’t get up and go to the bathroom because something special might happen. He also needs some help. It’s no secret that the Rangers are going to try to sign Brad Richards this summer and that will certainly help and be a boost to what they had this year. The Rangers aren’t ready to be a true contender with their current team, but they aren’t as far away from being one as they were a few years ago. They are a few good moves and some more NHL experience for their younger players from being a real threat in the league.
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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.