Jason Botchford was a huge supporter of CanucksArmy.
More importantly, he was a huge supporter of bloggers and young writers in Vancouver.
He pushed and inspired each and of every one of us to take risks, to be the best, and to work hard. He wanted there to be new and different voices in the market and made sure to tell people like myself that. He didn’t want you to be the new him, he wanted everyone to be the very best on their own.
It’s no coincidence that it’s been a running theme among the young writers here in Vancouver since the news broke. He was actively helping each and every one of us behind the scenes.
I can’t recall the initial time that Jason and I first interacted but I’ve been flooded with memories of our conversations over the last couple of seasons. Like so many of the voices in this market, when I started out, I looked up to Botchford and was nervous to meet him the very first time.
When I first started writing, I was excited to get my tweets into The Provies. It was a minor sense of validation for a little joke or a quick observation. That slowly developed into becoming excited when he wrote about those tweets or ideas.
He’d featured some of my earlier work in the various editions about collective bargaining agreement, prospect work, and analysis of the Canucks. Staying up to see your work being praised in the biggest feature of the night inspired me to work harder.
It later evolved into us conversing on a daily basis via twitter DM’s or at the rink. It wasn’t just ‘featuring’ my stuff anymore, it was allowing me to be an active part of where he was going with his points, and also being the go-to guy for a bunch of items. I could always count on a DM on gameday asking something related to the CBA, draft prospects, or something about the Canucks.
We didn’t always see eye to eye on every single angle, but he respected my opinion, and that was the best feeling to have. He offered praise for the good things that I did but wasn’t afraid to give me grief for not asking enough questions in the scrums. But no matter what, he made me feel respected.
Over the last few years, I got to spend more and more time with Jason. It started a few years ago at a Young Stars tournament and then slowly grew from there. I do remember that I was still in awe of him, sitting beside him at the little table in the ‘press-box’ in Penticton, even making a comment that I never thought I would be there with himself and Thomas Drance.
Training camp, development camp, game-day skate, Patcast recordings, or whatever other thing going on, I could always count on a loud “BEACHER” from Jason before strolling over to try to pick my brain on something or bounce information off me.
In Dallas at this past draft, Botchford and I were able to spend a few nights out on the town, including this meeting of the minds at an outdoor bar near the arena:
— Satiar Shah (@SatiarShah) June 23, 2018
That weekend ended with he and I on the same flight back to Vancouver, both of us excited to get home to our little ones. We sat on the floor of the Dallas airport waiting for the flight to board just bantering about the weekend that was, the food that was had, and what the Canucks would do in the coming days. Don’t know if I will be able to look at a deviled egg the same way again.
It was nice to get to know him as more than just Botch the writer, and it was still a surreal feeling to think of him as a peer.
Botchford was a polarizing image in the market and at times, rightfully so. He had run in’s with so many people and even caused some issues for me. But his heart was almost always in the right place when he was doing these things. If he felt that if someone was being wrongfully treated, he was quick to chase after the wrongdoers and make it right.
Jason always knew that my ultimate goal was to move over to the hockey side of the equation but that didn’t stop him from stressing the skills I could learn on the media side will help me for when I made the jump.
It took me almost all of Wednesday to collect my thoughts but I wanted to at the very least lay out some of my stories. Reading all the other pieces about him just reinforced what an effect he had on my blogging career. He cared about hockey, the Canucks, the media landscape, and he cared about each of us.
Over the last few months, I tried my very best to tell him how appreciative I was for everything he did for me. He didn’t want to hear it, he kept dismissing me and telling me that he was doing it to help make me better.
But now is the time to do it.
I’m thankful for everything he did for me personally. Inspiring me to be better, being an ear to listen to my frustrations, and being a sounding board to come up with better content.
I’m thankful for him making me feel like there was always hope if you just worked hard (and smart) enough.
I’m thankful that I got to know him as a person.
There is going to be an immense void in the market left by Botchford but his legacy will never be forgotten and that will be through all of us ‘young writers’ he helped break into the game.