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Covering Hockey Online: Marty Henwood of Hockey.com

imageWhile we’re all anxiously awaiting the start of the Stanley Cup Finals this week, I took the opportunity to undertake a short interview with Marty Henwood, the Managing Editor at Hockey.com.

Hockey.com is new to the scene this year, but has gained a lot of exposure and very quickly.  Marty himself has worked in media relations as well as stints in broadcasting and print journalism.  And most recently he has graduated from covering the pro-golf scene for seven years to be full-time immersed in everything hockey.

Rather than analyze the Pens/Wings series (I think we’ve all read enough “expert” predictions to last us a lifetime) I thought I’d ask more about the world of hockey journalism online, and Marty’s own endeavors—everything from covering pro-golf to writing his own hockey book, and the future plans of Hockey.com.

Alanah McGinley: How is it that you went from covering golf to covering hockey?

Marty Henwood: Well, I had a great time in my seven years in pro golf but it was time for a change. Needless to say, you rack up the air miles working in that profession and living out of a suitcase is fun for a few years before it catches up with you.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to cover a lot of hockey in both broadcast and print mediums and have played since I was six. I used to be one of those nerdy kids that absorbed every hockey statistic and over time became what my family and friends referred to as a fountain of hockey knowledge, much of it useless. I had been looking to get back in the hockey game for quite some time, so when the opportunity came to join the Hockey.com team, I jumped at the chance.

AM: Do you have any quirky golf stories relating to hockey?

MH: Over the years, I’ve had the chance to get to know Grant Fuhr as he tried on endless occasions to get his Tour card on the Canadian Tour. A few years ago, after many unsuccessful attempts, Grant completed his final round and had his Tour card locked up, at long last. Well, that is until he signed for a wrong score in the scoring tent and was DQ’d. And, no, that doesn’t mean Dairy Queen. Disqualified.

“It was dumb on my part,” Fuhr said back then. “I got a little too excited. I checked the front nine carefully and assumed everything was right on the backside. Just when I felt good enough about my game, I found a new way to mess up.”

Oh, and Marc Savard came through the qualifying school during the lockout year, trying to get his Tour card. Let’s just say it was a good thing the lockout eventually ended.


AM: Can you tell me anything about the hockey book you’re currently writing?

MH: It’s been a new challenge for me and certainly a work in progress. You can’t just wake up one morning and say “Hey, this week I’ll write a book for kicks and giggles.” Without giving away too many details, I’m writing about a certain era of hockey through the eyes of fans. Too often the center of attention in this sport is on the players, the owners, the backroom deals, the lockouts, the salary cap, the rule changes. I figured it was time to switch gears and put the common fan in the spotlight, and the stories you hear are actually quite amazing. This book will be about the fans, from their perspective. Without the fans, hockey would be just something else to do to pass time.

AM: Do you have a personal favourite hockey team or is that a secret?

MH: OK, I know there is some unwritten rule that you aren’t supposed to admit your favourite teams in the media, let alone cheer for them, but I have no shame. My two favorite teams since I can remember have been the Leafs in hockey and the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. My second-favorite team is the Vancouver Canucks, simply because my father has lived out west for years and I have kind of adopted them. Nice choices, huh? Which makes me two things: a slow learner and an eternal optimist.

There haven’t been a lot of victory celebrations in my house, if you catch my drift.

AM: How does covering a sport in an exclusively online environment compare to your background in newspapers, broadcast journalism and media relations?

MH: When you think how far the online environment has progressed over the past few years, it really can be overwhelming. Looking at it from the sports fan’s perspective, it has given fans a platform to connect with thousands, in some cases millions, of others who share the same passion for a team or sport. Information that used to take hours, perhaps even days, to gather can now be obtained with the click of a mouse. Get used to it. It’s obviously here to stay.

When writing, I try to envision myself writing for one person. You are going to ruffle feathers, and people aren’t going to agree with you all the time. You can’t take it personally. It’s not about using the shock factor. I like to think of hockey writing as sports talk radio with a keyboard.  You don’t write to see a byline and a bunch of paragraphs on a screen. You write to provoke discussion, opinion and rebuttals –to give an opinion, whether it is taking a hard-line stance or telling a human-interest story that often puts the game, or life itself, in perspective.

At the end of the day, you’re simply stating an opinion and letting the reader offer his or her take. That’s what being a fan is all about.

AM: Can you tell me about Hockey.com?  It seems to have grown very quickly in its first season – what has been the driving force and mandate for the website? 

MH: Without a doubt, it is certainly an exciting time for us here at Hockey.com. We continue to remain in BETA stage, and release updates and new features every two weeks. Our goal is simple: to become the premier online hockey destination in the world. From the kid that takes his first step on the ice to seeing an NHL captain lift the Stanley Cup in front of 20,000 fans, and everything in between. We want to bring hockey fans, players, parents and officials from all over the world together to experience every aspect of the game.

Our focus is community-driven with global news and forums, social networking, fantasy games, contests, blogging networks and trivia. We want to bring together every person connected with the sport, from every corner of the globe, and offer them one platform for hockey at every level – minor hockey tournaments and associations, beer leagues and officiating right through international hockey and the NHL. If hockey is your game, Hockey.com will be your voice.

AM: What sort of growth and feedback have you had in the first season of website? 

MH: It’s early, but we know the game and what it means to millions of people. Hockey.com has close to 7,000 registered members already with more joining every day. Feedback has been extremely positive and our members are telling us what they want in a hockey site.

Becoming a Hockey.com member gives you a ticket to everything hockey, including participating in community forums, writing your own blogs, taking part in Hockey.com fantasy contests and meeting other hockey fans from around the world. We currently have a few Hockey.com Exclusive Member Bloggers and as we grow, we will continue to feature more member blogs on our homepage, allowing fans from all over the globe a chance to have their say.

AM: Are there any changes in store for the site this summer? Things to look forward to for next season?

MH: As mentioned earlier, we will have updates and new features every two weeks. The hockey off-season is quickly approaching, but we’re just getting started at Hockey.com.

______________________________

My sincere thanks to Marty for taking the time to talk to me. You can find out more about him here.

Filed in: NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: bloggers, hockey.com, journalism, marty+henwood, media

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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