Monday, July 02, 2012
Actor/Hockey Fanatic: Michael Vartan Interview

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Last week we had a quick chat with the Pittsburgh Penguins Pascal Dupuis. The week before it was the first in our recurring series of chats with USHL player Todd Skirving. Today we're throwing a little bit of a curveball at you. 

Michael Vartan is a bigtime Hollywood actor. If you are a male anywhere between the ages of, say, 20-50 years old, you probably watched the show "Alias" because Jennifer Garner used to jump around and look ridiculously sexy while doing so. I will readily admit having a huge crush on her back then. Well, Michael Vartan was the lead actor on Alias, playing Michael Vaughn, Garner's partner and romantic love interest in the mysterious Government entity of ass-kickers. Since Alias, Vaughn hasn't rested on his laurels - he's been on several series, including Big Shots and more recently, playing a doctor on TNT's "Hawthorne." Vartan was also in the GREAT movie Columbiana (if you haven't seen it, SEE IT!).

Vartan is a HUGE hockey fan and a hockey player as well, so we thought it would be interesting to hear from him about his playing background, his love for the game and how an unlikely French-born Hollywood actor found the game of hockey. He promised me that his L.A. Kings would take good care of the Cup before it comes back to Boston next year. I do appreciate that very much. Here he is drinking from the Cup in LA a few weeks ago!

And we're off.....

1. You have an interesting background in terms of where you grew up – fairly non-traditional hockey markets. How did you get interested in hockey? 
I grew up in Normandy, France - not exactly a hockey hot-bed, but i lived about 30 miles from the team (Rouen Dragons) that won the French league 4 years in a row in the '90s, so there was a little interest there and when i moved to the U.S., I became obsessed with the sport. I went to my first Kings game when i was 6, they lost to the NorthStars 5-4 in OT - and that was it....hooked for life!
2. A lot of hockey fans – and particularly players – only pray at the church of hockey. I'm sure you're a FAN of other sports, but do you play any other sports?
I was scouted by a Paris's professional soccer team (PSG) when I was 14, I play a lot of tennis and golf, too. Pretty much anything with a ball, puck or net and i'm in.
3. Here's a strange question – do you ever apply anything you've learned as a hockey player to your job of acting?
One of the greatest things about our sport is the players attitudes. These kids mostly come from small towns, humble families and take the word 'team" to levels far beyond any other sport does. I suppose I try and bring a "team" attitude when I work, understanding we all have a job to do, and no one is more or less important than anyone else.
4. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?
When Mike Richards blew up Burrows in the first round… not gonna lie, gave me a little chub.
5. Given we're a gear shop, it's time for a couple of gear questions. What do you currently use for stick, gloves and helmet?
Easton Stealth RS 100 flex (Doughty pro stock), Easton EQ Pro Gloves, Bauer helmet, don't remember the model... it's old.
6. What piece of hockey gear are you most picky about? Or do you just play the game without getting too involved with the specifics of gear?
Stick and skates for sure! I switched from a P91 curve to the curve used by Doughty, I have hands of stone so I need all the help i can get! I like a really flat radius, mine is 13 and I usually get 1/2" hollow or 5/8" in the summer if the ice is softer. I tried the flat bottom V, didn't really feel a difference so just went back to normal.
7. Given you are a public figure, has anyone ever chirped you on the ice about "taking falls" or anything acting related?
Not that I can remember, i'm not really good enough a player or actor for anyone to care!
8. Were you aware of the movie "Goon" or did you try to get involved? 
I saw a preview for "Goon" and immediately wondered why I wasn't up for one of the parts, turns out I was unavailable because I was shooting "Hawthorne" for TNT so I didn't get a crack at it…next time.
9. What's your favorite hockey movie?  
I have two. "Slapshot" of course, for the story and characters, it's a classic! And Miracle, probably the most realistic portrayal of sport i've ever seen. Not sure if it's true or not, but I read that they cast hockey players that could act, as opposed to actors who could play hockey. You apparantly had to have college-level skills to even be considered for the movie. The hockey scenes in that movie are the best, those kids could all really play.

0 Comments Posted at 09:00AM on 07/02/2012

Leave A Comment...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Pure Hockey Interview: Joe Haggerty

In between sneak peeks of hockey gear and product reviews, we also try to slip in the occasional interview with NHL players, equipment managers or hockey writers. Today we're visiting with Joe Haggerty, who is arguably the go-to writer when it comes to reading about the Boston Bruins. Joe's writing can be found over at Comcast SportsNet New England's website and he's pretty prolific. In addition to being on the Bruins beat, Joe also hosts The Great American Hockey Show, a weekly 15 minute hockey show dedicated to the week in Bruins news and fun off-the-ice stuff as well with the team. Joe also has a good taste in music (trust us) and is an all-around fun guy. Here we go...

1. Tons of people think you probably have the coolest job on the planet (or maybe the state). Set them all straight – no job is perfect, so what sucks about yours?

Ha...nothing like taking a Subban-esque dive right into the negativity dumpster. Full disclosure: there is not much that sucks about my job. (You hate me now, don't you?) I love what I do, the people I deal with on a daily basis are great and I get to see my efforts on our website and our TV station whenever I need proof of my work.

So what's no so awesome? The 80-90 hour work weeks and the constant travel can make you feel like you're on the clock from the moment you open your eyes in the morning 'till the moment you go to bed. My wife isn't always psyched when I'm gone on a road trip for a week or two. We just rescued a lab puppy from a shelter and I don't get to spend as much time with him -- or get to see my friends for that matter -- because work is pretty all-encompassing. But that's what I gladly signed up for, and is more an admission than a complaint.

Being a sports journalist also knocks the fan out of you to a degree. You never root for a team or cheer anymore. You find yourself watching the games analytically and if anything rooting for individual people you like or for good storylines. That's kinda sad, I guess, but totally inevitable if you choose this profession.

One other thing that kinda sucks: the haters. The higher visability you are, the more people seem to want to rip on you for some of the most bizarre reasons. I tend to ignore most of it, but it makes you weep for the angry direction our society seems headed in when you browse comment sections or message boards. They can be pretty vicious.

2) OK, to prove we’re not negative nincompoops, tell us what your favorite part of the job is?

Duh. I watch and write about hockey games for a living, get to deal with the most down-to-earth, amiable pro athletes in the NHL, got to together the Great American Hockey Show with Mike Giardi after we'd always talked about doing a hockey show together and get paid to rip on Felger. It's a lot of work when you break it all down, but it doesn't feel that much like work most days. I think that's why I can hold my own on TV...because I'm having as much fun as the people that are watching us. Also, I get to play a game where I guess what color Jess Moran's hair will be when we do TV hits together. That stuff never gets old.

3. As a writer, sometimes you have to be negative towards certain players. Does that make for, uh, awkward situations sometimes? Be specific if you want!

Sure it gets awkward, but that's just part of the gig. Players aren't supposed to love everything we write. Mark Recchi stopped talking to me during last year's playoffs over a misunderstanding with something I wrote. He thought I was advocating the Bruins bench him vs. Tampa after I called for Claude Julien to take him off the power play. Due to the craziness of the Cup Finals I never got a chance to explain my side to him until after the Cup parade. We'd had a good relationship prior to that and have a good one now, but that's the kind of rocky patch journalists and athletes routinely go through.

What I've found to be the key: players will respect you as long as you show up in the dressing room after writing a scathing piece. You're there in case they want to give you a piece of their mind. Players respect writers that are accountable for what they write.

4. The only band you list as liking on your Facebook profile is Hall & Oates. We know you’re more well-rounded than that. Right? Right? Please? Mano a mano?

I'm not big into the "like" feature on Facebook when it comes to music, movies, books or TV shows. LOL. So Hall and Oates is more random chance than ardent fandom. I do love 80's music -- both pop and new wave stuff like Echo and the Bunnymen -- but I'm all over the board. Martin Sexton, Morcheeba, Black Keys, Alice in Chains, Ryan Adams, Prince and Portishead to name just a few. I love music, movies, TV and all things pop culture...mano a mano.

5) What’s the last thing you really laughed hard at?

Honestly it was earlier this week when Felger and I taped Sticks and Stones earlier this week. We decided to face each other in a battle of Bruins trivia that ended with Felger as the fraud. What made me laugh was Felger attempting to answer John Bucyk for a question, and all he could come up with was Johnny Boychuk. It was more due to sleep deprivation from his newborn baby having just come from the hospital than fraudulence, but I still laughed. Felger and I battle, but we also laugh at each other quite a bit.

6) What’s your ideal hockey game? A 1-0 nail biter (game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year) or an all out, 7-5 goal blitz?

I tend to enjoy higher scoring hockey games with plenty of fights and nastiness (think some of those Stars and Habs games over the last couple of years) in terms of sheer entertainment value. But I thought Game 7 of Bruins/Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals might have been the most well-played hockey game I've ever seen live. So there's that too. LOL

7) Which side of the fence do you sit on regarding fighting in the NHL? And in general, do you think the players would support a fighting ban?

I'm against any attempted ban of fighting and would err on the other side of lifting the instigator penalty if I had my druthers. It's one of the things that really sets hockey apart from the other sports and it would be slap in the face to most diehard fans it fighting was banned. I think the vast majority of players would vote against a ban on fighting and feel that enforcers still "keep things honest" to some degree. That doesn't even mention that the fighters are usually among the best character people you'll find in an NHL dressing room. That's got to count for something.

Big thanks to Joe for taking the time! We should do more interviews with hockey writers - definitely less editing involved! Perfect grammar, Joe!

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 12/13/2011

Leave A Comment...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Five Questions: John Torchetti, Stanley Cup Champ

Our latest  installment of Five Questions is an interview with the Associate Head Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, John Torchetti. John just joined the Thrashers for the upcoming 2010-2011, after being the Assistant for three years and winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks this past season. Torchetti’s coaching resumé includes time in the East Coast Hockey League, Central Hockey League, International Hockey League, the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League. He has twice been named Coach of the Year, first with the CHL’s San Antonio Iguanas in 1994-95, then with the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL in 1997-98.

Torchetti’s NHL resumé includes time with Tampa Bay (1999-00 to 2000-01), Florida (2002-03 to 2003-04) and Los Angeles (2005-06). He was asked to serve as interim head coach at the conclusion of the 2003-04 while he was an assistant coach for the Florida Panthers, posting a record of 10-12-4-1 in 27 games behind the bench. He was also brought in with 12 games left in the 2005-06 to serve as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings posting a record of 5-7-0.

Torchetti’s playing career spanned eight seasons as a left winger in professional hockey in the Atlantic Coast League, ECHL and AHL. Throughout his playing career, he enjoyed seven appearances in the finals while winning four championships.

Here we go……

1. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I overhear saying things like “summers off!” about pro hockey players and coaches in general. Like you guys are school teachers or something! Can you set the record straight about how much work actually gets done in a hockey offseason by a coach and his staff?

Since June 9th we stayed in town and celebrated our championship and then we prepared to go to the draft in L.A, June 24th – June 27th. One of those days was a NHL coaching seminar. Development camp starts for us July 7th – July 14th where we bring in our draft picks and prospects to teach skills and skating. We also teach our players on how to train on and off the ice and the value of nutrition. Myself over the rest of the summer I teach clinics on ice instruction about 2-3 camps.

2. Will you do anything unique with the Stanley Cup when it’s your turn to be its landlord for a couple of days?

Looking forward to having a family gathering, then taking the cup to where I grew up in Boston to a couple local establishments to see some old friends.

3. That said, after winning it this past season, you made the move to Atlanta to join the Thrashers coaching staff. How did you come to that decision? Possible to give a quick explanation about the experience of going from one organization to another from the coach’s perspective (especially when there’s a new coach in place in Atlanta)?

One of the reasons it was easy to make the transition is that Rick Dudley, the GM of Atlanta now, was the assistant GM in Chicago who brought me over to Chicago along with Dale Tallon. Rick was my first coach when I was 19 and I have worked with Rick with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers as well,  so there is a lot of history between us.  I worked with Craig Ramsey, who is the new head coach of Atlanta, in Tampa Bay so we also have worked together and know each other.

4. You’ve had a couple of interim head coach jobs in the NHL – I’d be interested to hear how you personally approached this? For example, did you feel a lot of pressure to lock down the job full time, or is it actually less pressure (I suppose it depends on the situation you’re in)?

I take the same approach with every job – I go in to win. When taking over teams it’s usually a situation where it hasn’t won, so a new voice in the locker room is a breath of fresh air that helps you get off to a good start. The pressure of the job is always the same, you want to win and you’re expected to win in the NHL.

5. In general, do organizations let interim head coaches know their status right away when they become “interim head coach?” For example, is it usually communicated to them that they’re there to simply finish the season out or that they’re “coaching for a job next year” etc etc?

When you take the job you’re always going in with the idea that you’re going to get a good opportunity of getting the head coaching job if you win and are successful with the team.

6. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?

When Patrick Kane walked in the locker room with his mullet haircut.

7. Finally, as a gear shop, we have to nerd out on equipment questions. How does today’s NHL/AHL/ECHL player look at equipment vs. the player view back in the 1980s when you played? Are you (or were you) attached to one specific brand of equipment over another? (skates, sticks, mostly)

I think today’s equipment is made to protect the players very well and there is a vast selection to choose from. Back when I played we kept the same shin pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and pants for like ten years because we liked our equipment comfortable and didn’t like to change it. Also, when I grew up there were only two skate companies, Bauer and CCM, to choose from.

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/10/2011

Leave A Comment...
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Five Questions: Paul Boyer, Equipment Manager: Detroit Red Wings

Today’s installment of “Five Questions”  brings us Paul Boyer, the Head Equipment Manager for the Detroit Red Wings. Our good friends at Warrior Hockey somehow convinced Paul to subject himself to our line of questioning, so big props to Warrior for helping us out on this one. Paul is in his 16th season as equipment manager after joining the Wings in the 1994-95 season after two seasons with the New Jersey Devils.  A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Paul earned a bachelor of science degree from Lake Superior State University in Michigan, then spent five years as the school’s hockey trainer before heading to the National Hockey League. Paul was also selected to work the 2002 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles and is currently in his third term as president of the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (SPHEM). This is a busy dude, people!

Lots of people probably ask you this, but how did you make it into the NHL?

Being at the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Finals with Lake Superior State, I was able to meet and get to know some of the vendors that cover both NHL and NCAA teams.  The late Ray Jones, who was with Bauer at the time, previously worked with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate and still had strong ties to that team.  He called me and let me know that the Devils were looking for an Assistant Equipment Manager and thought I should send my resume to them.  I was hired a few weeks later, spent one season (93-94) in Jersey and really learned the NHL.  I headed back to the Devils for a second season and then got a call in late August from then Athletic Trainer John Wharton from the Red Wings letting me know that the Head Equipment Job was open.

Tell me the best and worst part of your job, in all its glorious and un-glorious detail!

Best part is working with so many great people, players and staff alike.  I have made so many friends over the years.  The worst part is being away from my family and missing all of the social and sporting events that my family does throughout the season.

Those Lake Superior teams in the early ‘90s were dominant! I know because I did play-by-play for Kent State back then and saw it first-hand. Rolston, Lacher, Beddoes, Valicevic, Alvey – a good group there. How does managing a D1/CCHA team vs. an NHL team compare?

At LSSU, I was not responsible for any of the purchasing.  My good friend and mentor Gil Somes ran the Equipment Room for the entire Athletic Dept. With the Red Wings, I am responsible for all of the purchases as well as the day to day of our locker room.  I also have two Assistants that work with me.  At the end of the day, the jobs are very similar, there is just more responsibility in the NHL.

Equipment manager seems like a vast term. Is there a role in your job that a lot of people say “you have to do THAT, too?”

Myself and my assistants are responsible for the day to day operations of what needs to be done in the locker room.  Besides the traditional duties of skate sharpening and equipment maintenance, I am responsible for the purchasing of all supplies (except medical supplies) that we need on a daily basis. Purchases of skates, gloves, toiletries, towels, coffee, etc – all fall under the Equipment Manager’s umbrella.  We are also responsible for making sure that the locker room is ready on a daily basis. That includes coordinating cleaning after practices, changing light bulbs qne making sure the heating and cooling are operating properly.  The home team is also responsible for providing service to the visiting team when they are in town.  The home team is responsible for doing the laundry and towels the visitors use, too.  We are also responsible for supplying everything they need as well, coffee, towels, toiletries and tape – just to name a few. Equipment Managers also assist the travel coordinator in giving advice on which rinks to skate at on the road if the game rinks are not available.   The home team is responsible for pickup and delivery of the visitors equipment to and from the airport.  This is the job of one of the assistants.

Tell us more about your role as president of the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (SPHEM) – what does that entail?

One of the main tasks is to help coordinate the annual meetings with the Project Manager (Anita Ramsay), the President of PHATS, (Ray Tufts, San Jose Sharks) and the Executive Committees. We have to make sure that all of the booths are sold to the vendors who wish to exhibit their goods.  We coordinate the Hall Of Fame dinner as well as make sure the various committees are following through annually on fulfilling their tasks so as a group we can move forward. The President listens to suggestions that members bring forward all season long and sets the topics and agenda that will be discussed and voted on by the membership. The President also acts as a point person for the NHL if it needs any special requests carried out such as compiling equipment specific data that may be used to give the league a better idea of what players are wearing and doing.

What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?

During the second TV break of Game 4 in the San Jose series, Jimmy Howard looked at me, smiled, and said, “I need an oil change!”

Given we’re a large hockey retailer, we have to ask: what brand skate and what brand stick will you find most on the Detroit bench?

Our players use mostly Bauer skates, both the Vapor 60 and the new TotalOne.  Sticks are scattered.  There really is not a dominant stick that the majority of  the players use.   We are spread out among the major brands.  I chalk it up to good relationships between sales reps and the players.

Big thanks to Paul Boyer for taking the time to chat with us. Stick around on our blog for more great interviews! Bookmark us, subscribe, RSS, XML, BLAH, etc etc. Also, an extra big thanks to Warrior for helping us line up Paul for the interview. Those new Bully gloves will be in our stores soon and we will be carrying the most color variations out there – and there are some sweet ones!

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/05/2011

Leave A Comment...
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Five Questions: Mark Yanetti, Scout: Los Angeles Kings

Our next installment of our “Five Questions” series features Mark Yanetti, the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL. Mark is a lifetime player, hailing from Massachusetts. He started scouting for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1999 and has been working in the Kings organization for five years running. His full bio from the Kings site is here. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride – this is a pretty revealing interview about true life as an amateur scout.

Who travels more, a player on the Los Angeles Kings, or you, the Director of Amateur Scouting?

Not even close – I do, a minimum of 4 European/Russia trips per year. Last year I spent well over 200 days in a hotel, not to mention days where I traveled to games but came home that night.

I always hear great debate about the whole “you need to have been a hockey player during your life sometime to be an effective scout” – what are your thoughts on that?

Is it absolutely necessary? No. But it does make a big difference – even scouts that have not played some form of pro hockey are at times behind those that did – it is nearly impossible to “tell” someone how tough playing hockey is. You have to live it – the travel and the absolute grind, especially in the minors. Very hard. Then there’s the fear factor and hardness of players & competition that cannot be described – there are so many subtleties involved. However, I do know more than a few scouts whom I consider exceptionally competent even though they have never played at this level or even a competitive level.  The learning curve is usually very long however – those that do stick it out “earn” it in many of the same ways ex-players do. Starting at the very bottom and working your way up is long-frustrating and often under-appreciated, to say the least.

Other than viewing and judging talent, can you give the general hockey fan a better sense about what else scouts do that people may not realize?

Judging character…and not just the good old all-american boy whom you’d want your daughter to marry. Many times the things that make you a fierce competitor – single-minded and especially a winner – are not the traits of a good citizen. Sometimes they are, though.  Without going into names, some of the players I’d want in the playoffs would not pass people’s OR societies test – its all about figuring out which flaws can be overcome and which cannot be overcome – and which you can live with. Sometimes the best talent doesn't equal the best player – actually quite often. Then there is the toughest part, which is projections – who will get better, who will hit their potential or whose potential is higher. So even though player A will be better than player B there are circumstances where I will choose player B because of intangibles – such as taking a hard, nasty physical defenseman over a more skilled wing because the defenseman are harder to find (although never bypassing a truly superior player).

What/who is your proudest discovery?

Drew Doughty is an obvious choice but there are so many others – the guys you haven't even heard of yet. Wayne Simmonds is another one – a kid that wasn’t even rated by central scouting when we drafted him and we, as an organization, took some flak for drafting as high as we did. But Wayne made our team just his second year after the draft and has even played on our first line – but as I said there are too many to name!

Is there an “emerging” area where hockey is really starting to take off that scouts are paying specific attention to?

Actually,  California is developing quite a few players now, although the majority of them end up playing in the WHL when they are drafted, but it’s most definitely an emerging area.

What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?

I have a slightly different sense of humor from society’s accepted norm. Sadly, the only things I can think of I just cant put down in writing.

Do you actually get to attend many NHL games?

Yes,  but not as many as i would like because time just doesn’t permit it. I think NHL games are important for amateur scouts like myself to see. Seeing the pace, the skill and how hard it is to play at that level is important. It’s especially good to see the players we have scouted previously  that have ”made it” from the amatuer ranks. I have done 5 years of pro scouting as well before this, where the NHL and AHL were my sole responsibilities so I did get to see quite a few playoff games in Manchester, NH, where our AHL team made the conference finals – not quite the same  but you take what you can get!

What is the best and worst part about your job?

The best part is the guys I work with. It is the closet thing to a team atmosphere since I stopped playing. This isn't always the case, though – the group Dean Lombardi (GM of the Kings) has put together is truly special. It’s corny, I know, but I do really believe it. The fact that we have gotten the opportunity to build something from the ground up – I love that challenge. You don't get that chance to make a team/organization truly in the mold you envision, although we are not there yet!! The worst is that the travel is pretty tough. Everyone always says “wow, you get to travel for a living and watch hockey!” but it’s really no fun. I had a trip last year where I was home only 1 day in all of February, with connections and delays and weather cancellations, I flew 20 different segments and the warmest place I stayed was Winnepeg! I don’t have children so I can’t understand what it is like for my colleagues that try to balance this job and a family. It often doesn't work.

Huge thanks to Mark for a terrific interview. If you don’t think the Kings are on the right track, just watch them over the next couple of seasons, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with!

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/04/2011

Leave A Comment...
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Five Questions: Dale Arnold, NHL Broadcaster

Time for another installment of “Five Questions,” where we ask a hockey personality a bunch of questions that hopefully shed some light on the world of hockey behind the scenes. Sometimes we’ll ask more than five questions. Why call it “Five Questions” then, you ask? Well, it’s our blog. We can do what we want. How’s that?!

Today’s interview is with Dale Arnold. If he hasn’t already, Dale Arnold is fast becoming a broadcasting legend, particularly in New England. A two time Emmy-Award winner, he currently handles the 10am-2pm slot along with Michael Holley on Boston’s WEEI 850 AM, one of the largest and most influential sports talk radio stations in the U.S. But that’s not all. Dale handled television play-by-play for the Boston Bruins on NESN from 1995-2007 and he is also the only person in the history of Boston sports to actually do play-by-play for ALL five major sports teams in the Boston area – Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Revolution.  That’s a lot of work, people. Now, let’s get to the questions.

Talk radio is one of those professions that seems easy, but I sense it isn’t at all. What are the material differences between talk radio and calling play-by-play?

I have always joked that they had to pay me to do the day job (talk radio), but that I would do the night job (play-by-play) for free.  That has more to do with simple enjoyment than it does the ease or difficulty of either job.  I have always found that preparation is basically the same for both jobs — and preparation is easily the most important part of doing any job properly.  But once a game begins (in any sport) I’ve always found the play-by-play part to be very easy.  It becomes basically a case of “see-it-say-it.”  Talk radio requires much more deliberation and consideration, and circumspection before elocution.  In other words — on talk radio, engage brain before opening mouth, and in play-by-play, let ‘er rip!

You called Bruins games for NESN during a rather tenuous era in Bruins history. What single event was the high for you….and the low?

It’s hard to single out individual games, either good or bad.  I remember chaotic playoff matchups against the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens that were top-of-the-list for excitement.  The low spot might also be the most memorable, however — the night Ray Bourque played his last game ever for the Bruins, and I described him picking up the game puck at the final horn, knowing full well why he had done it, and why it meant so much to him.

Your daughter worked at one of our stores for a while. For you as a parent, I suspect that ranks right up there with her birth and graduations, right?

While it is true that my daughter, Alysha, worked for Pure Hockey, and would do so again, we actually had a family-wide connection with the company.  When Alysha was playing high school at Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Pure Hockey helped me design and order new game sweaters for the program.  We bought home sweaters her sophomore year, road sweaters her junior year and then team sweat suits her senior year.  Pure Hockey helped make sure that “The Mount” had the best-dressed girls high school hockey team in New England!

You are the only person in Boston sports history to do play-by-play for all five of the area’s major professional sports franchises. Did you ever imagine? When you were a kid, is this where you thought you would be as an adult?

When I was growing up in Maine my primary career goal was to replace Fred Lynn as centerfield for the Boston Red Sox.  When it became clear that was not going to happen, my goal changed to becoming a major league play-by-play announcer.  More than anything else, I wanted to someday be the play-by-play voice of the Boston Bruins.  I am so grateful that I was able to accomplish that goal, and spent 13 wonderful years calling those games.  I NEVER imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would become the only person in Boston sports history to call at least one game for each of the five teams in town (Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Revolution).  Sports talk radio didn’t exist when I was growing up, so this current career path never entered my mind, but doing games for the five teams was more than I could have ever imagined.

What was the last thing that made you laugh really hard?

I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I know that the last time I laughed really hard was during a recent family picnic at something that my youngest brother, David, said.  He would be some much better at this talk radio thing than me because he’s the funniest person I know.  If anything he told me was clean enough I would steal it for the radio, and proudly claim it for my own, but unfortunately nearly everything that Dave says that makes me laugh has to stay between us.

Let’s reverse roles – why don’t you ask us a question?

My question for you is — do you really think the composite stick revolution is a good thing?  Old time hockey players (like Bobby Orr, to drop a name) have told me they still much prefer the wooden sticks to the new composite sticks, and like any fan, I hate to see a stick explode like it did to Dennis Wideman during the Flyers series.  Is composite really better and why?

After consultation with a few hockey experts here at Pure Hockey, here’s what we came up with: the main advantages for composite sticks are lighter weight, harder shot, consistency and durability (though Wideman probably disagreed with that last one as he was chasing Briere). Wood does break down faster, which means you’ll get a different, less effective shot off the blade in the waning days of a wood stick. That said, the price points are obviously in favor of wood, but it’s true about getting what you pay for.

Big thanks to Dale for putting up with us. Stay tuned for more, coming soon!

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/03/2011

Leave A Comment...
Monday, May 02, 2011
Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Eventually this blog will have posts by a lot of people who work for Pure Hockey. Right now, it’s only me, so I thought it would make some sense to introduce myself. My name is Jeff. They call me the VP of Marketing and E-Commerce for the company, but the truth is that I’m a lifetime hockey player and fanatic who also happens to be a total internet/e-commerce nerd. This job is the best of both worlds.

Anyway, given I have all these outlets now to speak with you customers, who are our lifeblood, I plan to have a lot of fun here. Sometimes we’ll be informative, sometimes we’ll be totally goofy, but we’ll always be interesting. I was thinking on the drive to work here this morning about my hockey history. I’ve been playing since I was four years old. Back in the ’80s, when I was visiting rinks every weekend in head-spinning fashion, I got to be a part of some very memorable hockey games. I then started trying to figure out what my most memorable single youth hockey game was. It was a difficult task. Youth hockey and high school hockey, if you’ve played it, is an incredible amount of fun. Any team sport is, I suppose. The camraderie and the memories are invaluable, but also good learning tools, in retrospect. You can apply the teamwork and culture you learn from playing youth sports into your professional life.

Anyway, before I start getting all misty-eyed about days gone by, let’s get back to the topic at hand – my most memorable hockey game. It happened in Westborough, Massachusetts, at the North Star Youth Forum. I was playing Pee-Wee Selects one Saturday afternoon and we ran up against Wilbraham, MA I believe. I’m pretty sure Bill Guerin was on that Wilbraham team. They were always good and beat us regularly and this game was no different. They came out flying and by the mid-point of the game, it was 7-1 Wilbraham. I was pretty fed up with it. At the center face-off dot after their 7th goal, I told the ref “we are going to win this game.” He laughed.

I was right. We won 9-8. After the game, the referee was amazed that I had actually called it. It was something I never usually do, but I just had a feeling. The great memory wasn’t predicting it, though, it was the feeling we shared as a team when coming back and finally winning it like we did. I don’t even remember how many goals or assists I got. You see? My greatest memory isn’t something I did, it’s something our team did. That’s why team sports are so satisfying and educational, as I look back.

What is your greatest hockey memory?

0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 05/02/2011

Leave A Comment...