by Patrick Hoffman on 08/22/10 at 03:12 PM ET
As everyone knows, there are a lot of terrific hockey bloggers out there.
Today, I was lucky enough to do an e-mail interview with one of them - Denise Karl. “Dee” is the New York Islanders blogger over at HockeyBuzz.com and also contributes to several other outlets as well.
Dee was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule and tell us about how she got into the game, how she began blogging, what outlets she blogs for and more:
PH: How did you get into hockey?
DK: I am the monster my husband created. Or so I let him believe. Years ago, I owned a bar/restaurant and needed sports on the TV. I didn’t grow up with sports, but I did love figure skating. Kurt Browning didn’t go over well on a bar TV, so my bartender turned on a hockey game and I was hooked. Then I married him. Figured I owed him one.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player? Why?
DK: Well, I didn‘t grow up with hockey, but it was Ray Ferraro that made me love the game. I loved watching him skate and make key plays. In the early 90s, the Islanders were in bad shape, but in my household we called Ferraro “Ray of Hope.” If the Isles were down by one with 2 minutes left and Ray was on the ice, I knew he could save the game. I’d hold onto that hope of a win until the final buzzer.
I became such an avid fan that I would watch any team play. If there was hockey on television, I was parked in front of it. Each year for my birthday, my husband would buy me two seats for four games at the glass from a buddy of his. After we had our daughter, we’d still go to those four games with our toes on the ice that spilled under the boards and the baby in my lap. Even with all the noise, she’d never cry. She loved it. I used to have to stop her from banging on the glass to get the players attention during a scrum.
PH: How did you know that you wanted to be involved in hockey as a writer/blogger?
DK: I didn’t. I stumbled into this. One day in (maybe) February of 2004, I found out the NHL was running an essay contest for the NHL 7th Man Award. It was just a little form on the NHL.com website. You had to write 250 words or less about how hockey influenced your life. I spent my lunch hour typing and retyping until I could get everything I wanted to say into so few words. I hit the send button and it was gone. I had submitted the entry, but I couldn’t review it. I had no idea how bad it was or wasn’t. A few weeks later, I got a call at my office from someone at the NHL who told me I had won the contest for the NY Islanders. I thought they were lying. He told me that I had indeed won. I jokingly said I couldn’t be the 7th Man, I had to be the 7th Woman and it just stuck like crazy glue.
PH: How did you get the Islanders writing gig at HockeyBuzz.com? What has that experience been like?
DK: I started out as one of the founding members of the NY Islanders Blog Box and developed a nice little following as well as some good relationships within the organization. I know I’m a storyteller and not a journalist, but I received a few invitations to write for other websites such as Bleacher Report, Hockey Barn and a very brief (and misguided) stint with Dead Spin.
Last June, when Ken Rosenblatt, another founding Blog Box member, could no longer juggle writing for HockeyBuzz along with family and work responsibility, Eklund contacted me via email. I was shocked. I had known of Eklund since the dark days of the work stoppage and knew his website well. Knowing how vulnerable you are when you write for such a large audience on the Internet, I actually made Eklund call me to discuss it. I wanted to be sure he knew exactly what sort of writer I am and the type of stories I produce. I thought maybe he had me confused with someone else. Our first phone conversation, we spoke for almost an hour. We were very open and honest with each other and spent a good amount of time laughing. Even though we seemed to really click, I took a few days to mull it over. After asking Garth Snow whether he thought I was capable of taking on such a challenge, I accepted Eklund’s offer.
It’s been a learning experience for sure. HockeyBuzz has an avid, (read rabid) International reader base (as many hockey websites do). People enjoy commenting and dissecting anything that’s posted. But with passionate fans for a passionate game, the back-and-forth can get a little rough. There were a few readers who hated the idea of a female (and a motherly one at that) taking over the space and tried to scare me away. It didn’t work. I just wrote more…. And more…. And more. Even in the off season (is there really an off season any more?) I try to write at least every other day. When things are really going on, I’ll update the Isles space a few times a day, but leave the entry open so people can continue to comment and discuss what’s happening.
PH: What are you trying to bring readers over at Hockeybuzz.com?
DK: I try to bring the same thing I do in all my writing: my personal perspective and experiences within the Islanders’ organization and the League. I made it very clear, I don’t do “rumors.” I ask questions, I report the answers and give my personal opinions on whatever is going on in hockey. I’ll try to throw a little humor in here and there, but as much as I’m not a journalist, I’m also not a comedy writer. My views aren’t always popular, but I hope they offer some little bit of info to think about.
Some people tell me my personal interviews are too soft; I go too easy. When Gary Bettman is kind enough to invite me to his office for a face to face interview, or call and spend 20 minutes on the phone with me, do you really think I’m going to try to piss him off? No. I’ll leave that to Ron MacLean.
PH: How did you start your own blog – 7th Woman?
DK: I was posting as NYI 7thWoman on various hockey sites, but I found a home on a message board called NY Islanders country. When my message board posts began to read like short stories, the NYIC head moderator, Nick, suggested I create my own web journal. I didn’t know how, so he did it for me - and that’s how the 7thWoman blog was born. So it’s Nick’s fault. Blame him.
PH: What are you trying to bring readers over at the 7th Woman?
DK: There is more of my own personality on my 7thWoman blog than there is anywhere else. I am freer there. It’s a more PERSONAL space for me. If I want to say that it broke my heart to interview Joel Rechlichz while his face was stitched and swollen yet he still managed to smile and ask me how I was; I can do that there. And when things are really, REALLY slow—I can post recipes of things I’m cooking. Look up “worlds most expensive lobster club sandwich,” my blog comes up (It’s on page 2 of the 132,000 web finds).
PH: What other outlets have you written/will be writing for?
DK: It’s amazing how many hockey outlets spring up daily. I guess we are just perpetual consumers in this sport. I’ve written for just about anyone who has asked. When I first started out, I would write the interview recaps for the NYI Booster Club newsletter. Don’t laugh. Stan Fishcler got his start in the Rangers booster club.
Trying to be faithful to HockeyBuzz doesn’t leave me too much free time to wander elsewhere, but I’ve been able to post on the Versus website when the Islanders play a National broadcast game and I’m currently trying a different approach at HockeyQuarterly.com. In the past, I have written articles for print editions of Islanders Illustrated and Time Warner Spotlight magazine.
PH: How do you see hockey blogs evolving further?
DK: It’s obvious that the Internet has proven to be the best and worst place to get information on almost any subject. People will have their favorite places to read and that’s great, but with the most famous MSM blogging and tweeting daily, it is going to make it difficult for some bloggers to carve out an audience for themselves and for others to stay fresh enough to maintain their audience.
PH: Any last words for readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
DK: Yes. Continue to be avidly involved and have your voice heard when it comes to the NHL. If you feel your team is not getting enough MSM coverage, speak up. If you can, expose others to hockey. We may be very close to losing this game again. While the NHL has done an excellent job with their social media efforts and connecting with their fans, I think the NHLPA has to understand that the paying public is part of the equation when they begin negotiations for a new deal.
And of course—keep reading.
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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.