by Patrick Hoffman on 07/13/09 at 04:27 PM ET
Here we are with another interview with another popular hockey blogger, B.D. Gallof. Sure, you all know his name from HockeyBuzz but since leaving the Buzz, he’s really done a lot to further establish himself in the hockey blogging community, one that has come to respect him and all his works.
Continue below to learn more about B.D..
PH: How did you first get into hockey?
BDG: I first got into watching sports actually when I was about 7 or 8, living out in Middletown NY. We had HBO and I used to watch boxing and tennis, and then saw hockey for the first time about at 9 or 10. It was a Ranger game, and I really didn’t think much of it because I recall it looking so flat on TV (cameras and production was crap then), especially when tennis and and boxing had so much more going on.
That all changed when I moved to Long Island in 1981. Everything was about hockey then because it was during the dynasty. My first summer was spent learning about playing street hockey. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Ever since then, I’ve followed the Islanders. They were my team, and I followed it as deeply as I did boxing over the years. I played street hockey on foot mostly. I was a horrid skater, and tended to be goalie or on defense. When I went to college, we started up a floor hockey league which was quite competitive. Then, I wiped out an ankle which effectively ended my hockey playing career.. I had to wear hi-top sneakers and boots to support my severe ankle sprain for a long time…and spent several months of the school freshman year on crutches.
Hockey took over as my #1 sport to watch and follow since 1981 and the only sport that even comes close in interest is MMA fighting, like UFC.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite New York Islander? Why?
BDG: My favorite Islander was Mike Bossy. He was a scoring machine, avoided the big hits, and despite a myriad of other heroes on that team, always seemed a notch above. He was better than just a special player. To be a dynasty, a lot of them were really special players. That’s how you get a dynasty. No one man is the difference on a dynasty…it is a couple. But Bossy was always someone who stuck out to me.
Non-Isles, my favorite player is Mario Lemieux. He is the best player to play this game, bar none, in my opinion.
I am also a big fan of hockey pugilests. Eric Cairns was always a fave. Bob Probert and Joey Kocur were non-Isles faves.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to get involved in hockey as a writer/blogger?
BDG: I discovered the HFboards.com back in 2001 and started posting in 2002. There, on message boards, is where you will find when the first seeds of blogging really started. Look to any message board and you will find the great posters who understand the game, the team and even follow posters innately. I still post there, but it was about the winter of 2006 when I realized that my posts were no different than many of the hockey blogs I saw. So, I changed my moniker to my name and decided to step up….I felt I had a good feel for the game and that my take was unique.
PH: Name some of the outlets that you have written/blogged for and tell us how you think it led you to where you are today.
BDG: I’ve been published in a few places over the years as a creative writer. Some defunct magazines and websites.
My first “blog” began when Hockeybuzz.com came up with a nifty thing called MyHockeybuzz blog where anyone could write a blog. It amazes me that they have gotten away from it, because it is that feature that really got a lot of mainstream people than just rumor-hounds to come to the boards there. I wrote a blog called: Reality Dysfunction that got absolutely zero response. I swear you could hear crickets as you read it.
A week later, my wife and I were at the Isles vs Buffalo playoff game and I got irate when Isles fans threw bottles onto the ice. You could have felt the bad vibes even when I drove there during the early eve. So, I took a creative route and wrote it as like a Hunter S., Thompson story….Fear and Loathing on Long Island. The reaction to that was like a cannon going off. Regular bloggers linked to it. Something just really worked because it wasn’t just a regular blog of information or opinion. It was trying to capture something that was present at the game creatively.
After that, things took off, and soon I was asked to do a series, then was asked to be the Isles team blogger later that summer. At the same time, the Islanders officially credentialed me in the Isles Blog Box as a charter member. So all I did is start writing regularly, and things just took off from there.
PH: How did you come up with Islanders Independent? What are you trying to bring Islander/hockey fans who visit your blog?
BDG: Well, back in Jan 09, after being stunted with creative ideas, watching the Isles fall down the abyss, and not exactly on good terms with the Islanders internal media staff…I made my own misstep by trying to do an Andy Kaufmanesque experiment with an anonymous blog which was supposed to be a Howard Stern-type bashfest. I was trying to see if being negative and in bad-taste, even when supplying good info, would still work. It was a horrendous and stupifying mistake on my part, and I still bring it up, even though you were tactful in your questions to avoid it. There is no need.
So I ended up having the blogosphere lumping me in with crticisms of Eklund and Hockeybuzz. I took responsibility for it immediately and faced the music, but the bad taste in my mouth over the whole thing did not quite go away. so I decided to strike out on my own and see if I could reclaim and rectify my mistake. NHL-wise and with those I took to task, all has been solved and moved past it soon after. But, I think to ignore it does a disservice. I made a mistake, owned up to it, and made efforts to get past it. I feel that I have succeeded. Except for a few message board trolls, most have agreed.
I think mistakes are not to be ignored or pushed under a rug. They need to be learned from.
As for the name IslandersIndependent.com: The name just fit…and while other bloggers have affiliations with team sponsors, and other interests, I do not. I do not have a Rolodex of contacts. I do not put myself forward under a specific focus: rumor guy, or prospect guy. I just write and follow the Isles my way, and it seems to work. In merely five months, I hit the yearly view mark I wanted. I have been credited as an article source on TSN. I’ve gotten even more mentions on the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo’s Puck Daddy and other places than I did on Hockeybuzz. I went to Montreal and the draft, and had chances to rub elbows with the best and brightest in hockey and in the blog business. Due to that, I’ve had a lot more doors open.
I also own the HockeyIndependent.com name. Our new vision is to take the IslandersIndependent.com and RangersIndependent.com and combine it on one site: HockeyIndependent.com. This is our July project because we’ve been approached by some advertising networks and sponsors. I have also been approached to expand coverage with some Flyers and Devils bloggers. Once we are setup and consolidated under HockeyIndependent.com will be then take the next steps. I’m trying to be methodical and realistic in goals.
PH: What other hockey related outlets are you blogging for?
BDG: I am hockey columnist for TheFasterTimes.com which is a web-startup of Nerve.com and Babble.com people and literary types.
My brother Scott (NYR blogger) and my popular Sibling Rivalry series will debut on another established hockey site later this summer.
PH: What direction do you think hockey blogs will take over the next couple of years?
BDG: Well, hopefully it will veer away from the split I’ve been seeing. One section is true-blue great people being creative, insightful, inspiring, reporting and just really providing what newspapers can’t seem to anymore. You have Paul Kukla and this Korner, Lyle Richardson (Spector)...one of the first bloggers I ever read regularly, Puck Daddy, Down Goes Brown (my current fave), James Mirtle and SBNation blogs like Lighthouse Hockey, Litterbox Cats, Pension Plan Puppets, Eric McErlain, Gus Kastaros over at McKeens, Steve Lepore, Chris Wassel, HockeyFutures (and HFboards), MaxHockey, Jon Jordan, Dan Tolensky, Eric Engels, Al Camiglia on ESPN Chicago, Barry Melrose Rocks, Chris Botta, my fellow Islanders Blog Box people and a lot of others.
Another branch seems to be going the VIP fan route, and that is a disturbing trend that the teams themselves seem to be trying to create, whether it’s message boards or just trying to sponsor or provide/curry special favor. It is blurring and hurting the strong lines drawn by those in the aforementioned group who are making great strides. For if it is the teams and their media groups who think we bloggers or message boards are merely a good press route, they have misconstrued the entire movement and denigrated it. To view us as special fans who can bring in more fans, destroys what is being constructed and entangling it in some sales/promotion arm. This is one of the most dangerous things I have seen and I expect to see more of that, and hopefully some slower to the understand what it is all about will finally “get it”.
Bloggers and educated fans are not digits to some sales/promotion arm to be pulled like a marionette’s. We are providers of ideas, insight, and information that is meeting the needs of an interested base which is not getting their fair share from their local media, teams and national news. In partnership, we are all in it together. But once you start trying to manipulate, you destroy credibility of our task and effort, and hurt that movement.
I believe that only in a true partnership will we be able to make strides to getting more fans back to hockey, and also meet the needs due to the severe lack of coverage and attention hockey gets…especially as printed media has been shaken up by economic issues besides web-site issues.
PH: Now for some actual hockey talk: In your opinion, how much will John Tavares impact the Islanders?
BDG: He’ll impact it that he is an excellent blue chip prospect…but no more. He is no savior, nor will he (nor Hedman or Duchene) turn any team into a contender by their lonesome. It will be only from cheerleading fans and perhaps from the mouth of an owner who thinks that this team might make the playoffs next year. I can tell you that they will likely not even sniff a top 8, especially with serious gaps on offense, a lack of a true No.2 defenseman, and the lack of physical protection. These severe gaps might even hurt the development of players who need to bloom for this rebuild to succeed.
PH: What else do the Islanders have to do to become a better hockey club?
BDG: In all truth, it might take at least one more go around with a poor year and a big draft for this team to get themselves out of the muck. There are still some shallowness to their pool of prospects. They have a goalie who has his dad coming to prospect camp to give him good press. Meanwhile, I was told he had a second surgery on his knee this offseason and still after three weeks, is still waiting for a comment on it by the NY Islanders. (They did not deny it).
Above all, they need the Lighthouse Project to come through so that finally Islander fans can see this team play in a proper venue. The area there is seriously misused and mis-allocated. With the Lighthouse Project and a proper smart rebuild, this team on Long Island can turn the corner in a much bigger way that just get a playoff spot. But with a complete success in getting those old dynasty fans back, while also appealing to a new generation of hockey fans and family on Long Island.
I know…it sounds like a commercial. But huge things are at stake here.
PH: Any words of wisdom for true blue Ranger fans out there? How about here at Kukla’s Korner?
BDG: Kukla’s Korner is a gold standard in the hockey blogosphere. Paul does great work and has a great set of bloggers doing a bang-up job providing information. What wisdom could I possibly give besides just keep doing what you do?
As for Ranger fans, I am one of those rare birds who likes to see both teams do well so they can battle one another when things are actually at stake. The Rivalry and Rivals need to be their best for it to be the best. I am concerned by Chuck Dolan’s ownership and with Glen Sather’s choices and contracts. Sather made a great trade getting Gomez out of town. He also was smart to sign Gaborik than trade for Heatley. Gabby only cost $$, not youth. But previous contracts are still horrendous (Redden’s) and that defense still needs some work. I do think they have the right coach and a great goaltender.
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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.