A Personal Thank You
At the end of last season, which was my first with CanucksArmy, I wrote a post thanking some of the people who helped me throughout my rookie season and I would like to take the time to do something similar to end this season. I will include a link to last season’s post below.
A Personal Thank You https://t.co/gBo4D0ZqEy
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) May 1, 2018
I was able to experience a lot of firsts in my rookie campaign with CanucksArmy that I thought would be tough to top, but my second year brought more unexpected experiences and with those, more people to thank for making them happen.
Once again, I will be thanking Dylan Burke, (@JDylanBurke) as he was the one who gave me my start with CanucksArmy as well as my first chance to speak on a radio show, but also for putting the wheels in motion this past offseason for me to be able to attend the Vancouver Canucks Development Camp Game as one of his last acts before moving on from CanucksArmy.
That allowed me to attend the Development Camp game in the press box at Rogers Arena, which in turn allowed me to meet some of the Vancouver media who cover the Canucks. I was able to introduce myself to Satiar Shah, (@SatiarShah) and Jeff JPat Paterson, (@patersonjeff). I was also able to speak with a few players after the game.
I will admit to feeling pretty nervous about all of this ahead of time as the thought of being part of a media scrum with writers whose work I respect and have been reading for years seemed pretty daunting. My questions were not great, and my words weren’t coming out of my mouth as confidently as I would have liked, but there I was, standing next to JPat and Ben Kuzma, asking questions of people like the Canucks most recent first-round pick, Quinn Hughes and Utica Comets General Manager Ryan Johnson.
I left the building on quite a high that day and ended up writing what I felt was a pretty solid piece for my first attempt at that type of work. It also left me feeling hungry for more and I quickly hit up my new boss at CanucksArmy for more access in the future if/when possible.
That new boss would be Ryan Biech, (@ryanbiech) who took over as Managing Editor at CanucksArmy after Dylan moved on. Ryan obliged and was able to ensure that I would be able to speak to a few players at Canucks Training camp in Whistler. As I focus my writing on the Utica Comets, it would be those players that I was interested in speaking with and Ryan, with the help of the Canucks delivered.
I live on the Sunshine Coast in BC and that means jumping on a ferry to get anywhere that isn’t part of our little rock. As I started my trip to Whistler for day one of camp, I knew that I would have to try to pack as much into one day as I could because I wasn’t in a position to spend more than a day there. I posted a photo of the Langdale Ferry Terminal to Twitter as I got my day started and off I went.
By the time I got to Squamish, I needed to stretch my legs, so I pulled over, grabbed a coffee and checked my messages. When I opened Twitter, I had a notification that I had a message from Juliana MacEwen, she had seen my post about heading off to training camp. Juliana MamaMac MacEwen is the TheBigFella’s mother and she was letting me know that her husband Craig was on his way to Vancouver to take in some of the camp and spend a little bit more time with Zack before his season got underway. Juliana was wondering if I was going to be at camp for more than one day because Craig wanted to say hi but wouldn’t arrive until the following day.
I spent the rest of the drive to Whistler contemplating spending the night in my car in the arena parking lot so that I could meet up with Craig the next day. By the time I got to the arena, I had to put those thoughts on the back burner and prepare myself for what was going to become a very long, but very excellent day for me.
I walked into the lobby, looked around and quickly spotted JPat along with a few other media folk and made my way over to the group. Jeff recognized me said hi right away and that set my mind at ease that I would be able to just be myself and talk hockey with these media folk.
Once Ryan Biech arrived, I let him know that Craig MacEwen would be coming to camp in the coming days and that if I had timed things better, I might have been able to meet up with him. After some discussions between Ryan and myself and with the MacEwen’s, it was decided that Ryan would try to get some access for me to one of the Canucks preseason games so that I would get the chance to speak with Craig and get his perspective on his son’s journey from undrafted player to signing a pro deal with the Canucks.
With all of that semi-sorted and sitting on the back burner, I had to figure out how to make the most of the rest of my day at camp so that I could get more than one story. That was when I met Chris Brumwell, who is one of the Canucks media liaison’s and he asked me who I would like to speak with on that day.
I wasn’t sure how many players I would be allowed to speak with and I didn’t want to overstep, but I figured I would try to speak with the Comets players who I thought had a solid chance of playing in the NHL this season. I quickly blurted out that I would love to speak with Zack MacEwen, Thatcher Demko, Ashton Sautner, Guillaume Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield. It turned out that I had missed my opportunity to speak with Jalen, so I asked for Jagger Dirk in his place.
I did get to speak with each of those players and managed to do a three-part series out of my one day in Whistler.
While I was there, I was asked by Satiar Shah and Jawn Jang, (@jawnjang) to join them on air to talk some Comets hockey for Sportsnet650. That was my first time on the air on Sportsnet after having been able to get some time on TSN1040 last season with Dylan and Jon Abbott, (@HockeyAbbs). That was also my first time doing any sort of radio stuff that wasn’t over the phone and it was a pretty cool experience.
I was also able to introduce myself to Jason Botchford, (@botchford) and thank him for all of the help that he gave me last season while I was getting my feet wet with this job. All in all, it turned out to be a great day and I would soon find out that things were about to get better.
Ryan was able to get me access to the Canucks/Kings preseason game for the following Thursday at Rogers Arena and I was able to sit down with Craig MacEwen and talk to him about Zack’s journey before spending the rest of the night talking hockey and watching the game with him. That was a pretty great night because I got to make a new friend in Craig and watch an NHL preseason game from the press box.
Over the course of the season, I was asked to talk Utica Comets hockey with JD Burke and Andrew Wadden, (@andrewwadden) on their Rink Wide show on TSN1040, as well as a few more spots with Sat and Jawn over at Sportsnet650 as well as with Mira Laurence, (@laurence_mira) at the same station. I love talking Comets hockey with anyone who will listen, so being afforded the opportunity to have my voice heard by so many in this market was something that I can’t thank those listed above for enough.
I was also able to get to know some folks in the Utica market a little bit better this season and was able to talk some Comets hockey on the air there as well, which allowed some folks in that market to hear what I have to say about the team. Big thanks to Rain, (@KrockRain) Scoop, (@scoop16) and Matt Page, (@MMPage11) for giving me a platform in Utica on the @ESPNSportsZilla show and on Utica Comets #Insider on K-Rock, (@KROCKCNY) to talk Comets hockey.
Big thanks to Ben Birnell, (@OD_Birnell) of the Utica Observer-Dispatch for being a sounding board for me and for all of the Comets conversations that we had over the season. Having someone who is in the Utica market to talk Comets with is invaluable. Ben is a fantastic source for all of your Comets info.
I would also like to thank Joe Roberts, (@RobertsOnTheMic) the play-by-play voice of the Comets for doing a great job calling the games this year and for taking the time to interact with me. Joe is a really entertaining guy and made the Comets games that much more enjoyable.
I can’t wrap this up without thanking the MacEwen family and TheBigFella himself. I have been fortunate enough to have built a friendship with Juliana and Craig MacEwen and we have had many conversations over the course of the past two seasons. The MacEwen’s are fantastic people and when they found out that Zack was going to be playing his first NHL game this year, they invited me to join them for the experience.
Never in a million years did I see that scenario playing out. To be able to experience an NHL player’s debut with his family is not something that I will ever forget and words can’t express how grateful I am to have been able to be a part of their day. The signed Utica Comets jersey from Zack was the cherry on top of what was a pretty fantastic experience.
As I have outlined above, this has been another year of firsts for me and I can’t state enough how much I appreciate all of the help that I have received along the way by those mentioned above. I hope that those of you who take the time to read my work understand how much appreciate you as well. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this stuff if nobody was interested in what I have had to say, so thank you for following along as I learn on the fly.
I plan to keep the Utica Comets content coming at you all offseason long. I will be doing individual player breakdowns, I will be looking at what went right, and what I think could use some work with the team. There will be plenty more as I look ahead to next season as well. Stay tuned for a steady diet of Utica Comets content this offseason.