Entries with the tag: nhl network
It is not very often that I get to conduct an e-mail interview with an Emmy Award winning producer so when I do, it is an absolute honor and pleasure.
Today, I am proud to bring to you an e-mail interview I conducted with Matt Sitkoff. Sitkoff, who won a 2009 Sports Emmy Award for his work on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, is now a segment producer for NHL Network Programming.
Matt was kind enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he got involved in sports media, and what he does for the NHL Network.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
MS: I have been in love with the game from the very first time I put on skates and luckily for me it was at an early age. My neighborhood had this Cul-de-sac and every day after school a bunch of us would go and play street hockey. These games were intense and really toughened me up so many bruises and blood and Stanley Cup game 7’s were won in that Cul-de-sac. We would play all night and wear Flyers jerseys pretending to be our heroes. It was such a great introduction to the sport.
I transitioned that into learning to ice skate and play hockey with some of the neighborhood boys, at that time the rink was about 45 minutes to an hour away from our house. I am really thankful that my parents saw my passion for the sport at an early age and were a big influence on me playing the game for so long.
I am a huge fan of the NHL Network.
I love the channel’s content, coverage of the game, coverage of special events and its hosts. With that in mind, I reached out to one of the Network’s best hosts and asked for an e-mail interview.
As it turned out, the great Kathryn Tappen agreed to do so with me. Tappen took time out of her very, very busy schedule to tell us about how she got into hockey, how she got the gig at NHL Network, how she likes working at the Network and much, much, more.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
KT: I grew up going to NJ Devils games as a kid, but I didn’t start following hockey on a consistent basis until 2005 with my first full-time TV job at WJAR-NBC in Providence, RI. My very first live shot on TV that I did for local news at WJAR was in Boston and I was reporting on the NHL Lockout announcement.
From there, I covered the Providence Bruins, who at the time had many NHL players on the roster due to the lockout. I then began to develop a passion for covering hockey and learning the sport.
However, it wasn’t until October 2007 that I began broadcasting the pregame, intermissions, and postgame shows for Boston Bruins hockey on NESN. From that point on, I was hooked. I broadcasted the Bruins first season under then new head coach Claude Julien. In his first season, Julien led the team back into the playoffs. It was tremendous to be a part of the growth of the Boston Bruins under Julien, Peter Chiarelli, and the rest of the organization’s staff. They were the architects of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and I got to broadcast it all right from the start.
I was just settling down to relax for the rest of the night and saw that the NHL Network had two new programs on: “Plays of the Week” and “Around the Rink”.
The first show is pretty self explanatory. It showed the top hits, saves, and goals while also having NHL Network analyst EJ Hradek come on and predict which game this upcoming week would feature the play of week. Hradek predicted that it would come from the San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings game on Friday, October 28.
On “Around the Rink” host Ed Cohen took hockey fans around the league and showed which teams were hot, which players are expected to have big years while also featuring Hradek and Deb Placey talk about a few rivalry games coming up in the beginning of November.
The NHL Network is certainly improving and I am looking forward to seeing what else they can do both throughout the season and the offseason as well. Stay tuned!
Before getting to the point of this blog, I wanted to start out by saying that I love the NHL Network.
I am a big fan of “NHL on the Fly”, “Classic Games”, “NHL Live”, “Classic Series,” and the network’s other programs. The network has probably been a revelation for hockey fans throughout the United States.
With that said, I believe that there needs to be a few improvements to make the network even better than it is now:
- Original Programming: If you look at the MLB Network, you will see that the channel has a ton of original programming on throughout the day. Throughout the season, the NHL Network continues to replay “NHL on the Fly” while having just one original program on in “NHL Live”. The Network needs to come up with some more shows to put on during the day to keep fans tuned into the channel and I believe that they have the talent to do just that.
When you’re a hockey player growing up in Canada, your dream is to make it into the National Hockey League and win a Stanley Cup.
While this person did not win a Stanley Cup, he was an NHL netminder for the better part of 12 seasons and has now established himself as one of the top analysts in the game.
The man I am talking about is Kevin Weekes. Weekes, who played for the Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, knew from a very early age that he wanted to be a professional hockey player.
“I knew right from when I was 6 years old that I wanted to be an NHL goalie,” Weekes said. “That was my goal. When you work hard enough and are fortunate enough to aspire to it, it can be very fulfilling.”
It was certainly fulfilling for Weekes, who had to overcome a few challenges to make his dream come true.
Thanks to Kerry McGovern, senior manager of communications for the National Hockey League, I was lucky enough to get an e-mail interview with Bob Chesterman, the VP of Programming for the NHL Network.
This e-mail interview comes at the perfect time as the league’s channel has gone changes both format-wise and look-wise as the NHL is now into their “second season”, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
PH: How do you think the changes that were made to the Network, such as the ones made to “NHL Live”, “NHL On the Fly Pre-game”, and “NHL on the Fly”, are going to help for the future of the Network?
BC: By providing consistent and now extended live content, fans—especially those in the US—now know they have a channel that they can turn to for relevant and informative hockey programming that covers the entire scope of the League. We are feeding that insatiable demand that they have for hockey programming, and the more we are there for our fans, the more they will support us back.
PH: What made you think that the NHL Network needed to go in the direction that it is currently going in? Did you do it based on fan or league feedback or is this something you thought would benefit the Network going forward?
BC: It’s a mix of feedback and also examining what opportunities were available to us. For the move of NHL Live from Noon to 4pm, we know there are more eyeballs watching at 4pm. It made sense to bring that kind of a show – which was popular to begin with – and make it more accessible.
One of the best hockey analysts in the business Billy Jaffe, who works for Versus, the NHL Network and NHL Radio, was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to give us his thoughts on the NHL season.
“It has been another great season. You have teams that are surprising some people such as the Dallas Stars, who are having a terrific year under head coach Marc Crawford and the Montreal Canadiens, who are fighting to win the Northeast Division.
You also have your usual terrific individual performances as well as the issue of head shots, which are leading to big injuries this season. With that said, the league is trying to tweak that and is headed in the right direction.”
It is not everyday that you get to interview a former NHLer.
Luckily for me, I had the chance to do an e-mail interview with NHLer turned hockey analyst Mike Johnson. Johnson played in the NHL for 13 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs (4 1/2 seasons), Tampa Bay Lightning (1 1/2 seasons), (Just over 4 seasons), Montreal Canadiens (1 season), and the St. Louis Blues. He enjoyed his best season in in 2002-03 when he recorded 63 points (23 goals and 40 assists) with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Johnson is now a hockey analyst for the NHL Network, TSN, and NHL Home Ice and really does a terrific job for all three outlets.
Johnson was kind enough to take time out of his extremely hectic schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, his NHL playing days, and what it is like to be behind the microphone covering hockey.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
MJ: I started hockey like most other kids in Canada. I learned how to skate on the lake at my cottage when I was 4 and 5, and I started playing in the local house league the first year that I was allowed, which was when I was 6. From there I just followed the natural progression through the years.