by Patrick Hoffman on 01/11/10 at 12:46 PM ET
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to do an e-mail interview with SBN NHL Managerand DefendingBigD editor, Brandon Worley.
Brandon took time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, got involved with DefendingBigD and SBN’s hockey section, as well as his thoughts on the Winter Classic and the upcoming Olympic games.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
BW: Growing up in Texas, we played some form of sports outdoors nearly every single day after school and on the weekends. This was at the time when videogames really started to get big, but I still loved nothing more than to play football outside with kids from the neighborhood. We played soccer, baseball, football, basketball…and even hockey. At that time (early 1990’s) it was just Wal-Mart sticks, tennis balls and makeshift goals. I didn’t even know the actual rules of hockey. But I loved playing the game.
This is going to sound odd, but “The Mighty Ducks” came along at the perfect time. I loved that movie, watched it non-stop. And then less than a year after that movie came out, the Stars came to Dallas. My whole family instantly became Stars fanatics and my brother and I played hockey as much as we could. We volunteered at home games in order to get free tickets and I was completely immersed in the sport. I’ve been following every Stars game since 1993 and I don’t plan on ever stopping.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
BW: My favorite player has been and always will be Sergei Zubov. There was a short period where Eddie Belfour briefly took over (I modeled my playing style after him), but I never realized how much I truly loved Zubov until he left the Stars this past summer. My article that bid him farewell brought out emotions I didn’t think I had about a sports player; his professionalism, his dominance and they way he was always there year after year as the Stars’ best player speaks volumes to how good he was on the ice. We’re seeing now just how much he meant to this team, and I still can’t come to grips he’s playing hockey with a different jersey on.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a hockey writer/blogger?
BW: I actually never really had this ‘master plan’ to become a sports writer or blogger. This all happened completely unexpectedly, and I’m surprised how far it’s taken me already.
I started out writing for a Dallas Cowboys website, Blogging The Boys, when I answered an open call for new writers. I’ve always loved to write, and I love sports, so I figured why not give it a shot. At the time there were a couple of Stars blogs, but nothing major and nothing with SB Nation. The Cowboys writing gig was amazing (Blogging The Boys is one of the most popular sports sites on the web) and it led me to moving over to hockey.
PH: Besides Defending Big D (we’ll get to that later), what other outlets have you covered hockey for?
BW: For the most part, all of my hockey writing has been relegated to Defending Big D. I’ve done plenty of ‘guest’ posts for Cycle Like The Sedins, and recently took part in an in-game chat for ESPN Dallas.
PH: How did you get the Defending Big D gig at SBN Nation?
BW: Last winter, I became aware that SB Nation was making a big push to fill the vacancies in their hockey coverage. While I loved writing for Blogging The Boys, my first love has always been hockey and it’s a sports I am much more familiar with. I applied for the chance to start a brand new Stars blog with SB Nation, and surprisingly they agreed and brought me on. It’s rare to get the chance to start from scratch (and it’s extremely tough to do), but I took on the challenge.
PH: Tell us about your experience at Defending Big D. What do you try to bring readers who come to the site?
BW: There are a number of high quality Stars blogs already, so the challenge with DBD was to bring something new and different. I wanted to be able to bridge the gap between straight-up news and analysis, and the sort of emotional response that fan blogs are known for.
Additionally, I wanted to build a close-knit fan community build around Stars fans. SB Nation has an exceptional platform that encourages user participation; this isn’t just a website for people to read but one where their opinions are valued as well.
PH: How rewarding has this gig been for you? We hear that you run the hockey section now. How has that been?
BW: It’s been extremely rewarding and an experience I never thought I’d get to have. Through my work with SB Nation and Defending Big D, I’ve been able to get press access to the NHL Entry Draft and several NHL functions; I also had the chance to nab an exclusive interview with Mark Messier.
I was surprised when approached to take over as NHL league manager for SB Nation, but it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. SB Nation is growing at an exceptional rate, and the company is giving it’s bloggers opportunities we never thought we had. I’m biased of course, but I truly believe we have one of the best group of hockey writers around, and we’re still growing and learning. It’s been an amazing experience.
PH: What direction do you think hockey blogs will take over the next couple of years? Do you think their importance will keep on increasing as coverage in the newspapers, at least in the U.S., dwindles down?
BW: Just like any other sports blogs, I think you’re starting to see a transition from the ‘traditional’ media to the ‘new media’. Blogs and bloggers aren’t what they used to be, just some random guy chatting and whining about his team. They’ve evolved into in-depth sports coverage you can’t find in the newspapers and from the more traditional journalists. What’s great is that you’re starting to see an evolution among the older media as they adjust, and I think it’s created not only some great competition but some truly outstanding sports coverage from all around.
I think eventually you’re going to see ‘blogs’ and ‘bloggers’ start to get more and more mainstream respect, at least for those that deserve it. No longer are all bloggers lumped into the same group (especially with traditional journalists starting to blog as well), and you can weed out the bad ones from the good. With media in a transition period, the ‘new media’ is going to become the normal medium for consumers, much more so than it already is.
PH: Now for some actual hockey talk - your thoughts on the Winter Classic? Was it another success? Why? Where do you think it will be held next year and which two teams will be involved?
BW: I think this year’s game was definitely another success, if for no other reason than because of the energy of the fans. The game has become a spectacle, where what happens on the ice is almost secondary to the event surrounding the game.
I think the game should be held that night, instead of during the day. Hockey during the day just isn’t the same, and the players don’t play with the same skill. It just feels off, each game, until around the third period.
Next year I can see the game played in Washington. Or a New York game. We’ll see.
PH: Quick - Name the three medal winners at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver?
BW: Sweden, Canada, USA. Don’t ask me for the order. USA medals on the power of Ryan Miller’s greatness.
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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.