Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

Talking Puck with Katie Baker of Grantland.com

As we all know, there are a lot of terrific hockey bloggers out there.

One that has really become one of the best this season is Katie Baker of Grantland.com. Katie was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to tell us about how she got into hockey, how she became a hockey blogger, how she got the hockey blogging gig at Grantland.com and more.

PH: How did you get into hockey?
KB: I was in fifth grade during the parallel playoff runs by the Knicks and Rangers in 1994 and that’s really one of the things that got me hooked. Basically every night for like three months there was either a big basketball or hockey game on, and that’s when I started listening to WFAN and begging my dad to bring home the Post and New York Times every day from the office. As the years went by I got even more into hockey thanks in part to the growth of the Internet—IRC, Usenet, etc—which connected me with other fans.

PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player? Why?
KB: Rangers. I loved Brian Leetch a lot but Mark Messier was always my favorite. I went through kind of an awkward phase in my adolescence where I read a ton of books on the 80’s Oilers and I always felt horribly robbed that I had been too young to really see those teams operate. So Messier was a link to that, and I mean, he was just a complete badass. He was a borderline mythological figure in my eyes. This paragraph can also be used to describe Esa Tikkanen, btw.

PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a f/t writer/blogger?
KB: I always loved to write. As a kid I would make little books and all that, and throughout high school and college I wrote for the school newspapers. (Even throughout my teens I did a ton of “writing,” if you can call it that, on various message boards.) I also read as much quality writing, and sportswriting in particular, that I could. My junior year in college was the big fork in the road. I got two summer internships, one in finance and one at a sports magazine. I took the finance job and hoped at the time that in five years time my writing would still be the same and I could always go back and try that out if I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. That’s basically what happened, although it took six years not five.

PH: Prior to being the hockey blogger for Grantland, where could people find your work?
KB: With a couple of exceptions, it was mostly at Deadspin and The Awl.

PH: How did you get the hockey blogging gig at Grantland?
KB: A fair amount of my past writing had been about hockey, so when I joined the staff it made sense to transition that into something more regular. We also have the amazing Sean McIndoe (@DownGoesBrown) doing some occasional hockey blogging, which rocks.

PH: What are you trying to provide readers on a daily basis?
KB: I’m probably not always successful, but my overall goal is to write hockey content that will be at least somewhat accessible and compelling to people who don’t know much about the NHL, but also to diehard fans who know ten times more about their teams and/or hockey in general than I ever will. I kind of think that a successful column would be like Shrek—the kids enjoy it, but there’s also another layer of jokes and references that make it something that parents can watch and secretly like.

PH: You are also very active on Tweeter. What has it been like to interact with readers regarding your columns, hockey in general?
KB: Twitter is the worst but it’s also the best and such a huge part of what I use to research and write my columns. There are so many valuable sources and voices on there—but my favorite thing is really the blend between authority and absurdity. People in the hockey world are hilarious, unintentionally or otherwise, and that includes the fans. I read Twitter during games and sit there snickering out loud and wondering how people can come up with some of this stuff. I love the emails and messages I get, and even the more critical missives I take seriously. I’ve been using the Internet for what seems like my whole life and can’t imagine not interacting with readers and other writers, too.

PH: How do you think hockey will continue to grow in a new-media sense (blogs, web sites, podcasts, etc.)?
KB: We’re already seeing it in action. The NHL is generous with its video content (and its tolerance with fan-generated YouTubes, generally), which makes covering it online-friendly. (My only complaint: I wish I could pay some sort of one-time fee to not have to see the ad videos again and again on NHL.com.) The work of both bloggers and more “traditional” reporters is becoming increasingly digital in scope. And changes in old-media will effect new: this year every playoff game will be on some sort of national channel (including CNBC, which I kind of love—a lot of investment bankers who work late amidst rows of TVs perma-tuned to the financial news network are about to become hockey fans by osmosis.) The more people who can watch the game, the more who will want to produce or consume hockey content. And I think hockey fans have long harnessed the power of the Internet—for a long time, it was one of the only places to find any puck talk.

PH: Anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
KB: Hmm… a propos of absolutely nothing, this Twitter feed has been killing me lately. (Don’t click if you’re a Pens fan.)

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: grantland.com, katie+baker, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins


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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.