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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Goodbye Edition

Author’s Note: 

For those of you who aren’t aware, I will be stepping down as Managing Editor on May 1. It’s been a fun ride and I wish nothing but the best for everyone at the site and all the readers. Thanks to everyone who has ever asked a question or read any of my pieces. 

Let’s go. 

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It’s hard to think of any one particular moment that sticks out because it was such a round-the-clock job before the season was put on hold. Getting to do radio appearances was definitely a highlight. The first time I made the Provies and getting referenced on the Canucks broadcast were definitely cool, but both of those things happened long before I took over as managing editor.

If I had to pick one moment specifically from the time since Ryan stepped down, it would be applying for press passes for Chris Faber and Cory Hergott. It was cool to correspond with the team on an official level, but more importantly I know it was a huge milestone for Cory and Chris, and it meant a lot to me to be able to help them reach it.

When I left high school, all I wanted to do was be a musician. That’s quieted significantly over the past few years, especially as I’ve experienced how that lifestyle takes a toll on you, but I know that in five years I would definitely like to be more involved in making and producing music than I am right now. I’d also like to get more involved in philanthropy and political organizing. Something I realized after I lost my house to a fire in 2017 was that you have to step outside yourself to find meaning in life, and that every time you help someone else what you’re really doing is helping yourself stay connected to your community.

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I’ve never been great at setting specific goals, but I think in five years I would like to be established as a freelance writer on a number of diverse topics, while still leaving enough time left over to work on art projects and activism.

I don’t have a primary source on this, but I did hear from someone with connections to the organization that the 2019 draft was essentially when Jim Benning wrestled control of the scouting department back from Judd Brackett, and that it put Brackett’s future with the organization in doubt. I have no idea how true that is, but it’s a theory that has legs among people who cover the team.

The only people I’ve met from the Canucks organization are Ryan Biech and Jonathan Wall.

  1. The Canucks were reportedly offered the 9th overall pick in 2015 from San Jose in exchange for Ryan Miller, but turned it down. It’s possible other pieces were involved, but those were the main pieces the deal was centred around. I mentioned it in an article at the time and it caught fire with a certain portion of the internet, mainly because they thought I made it up, but I had permission from the media member I heard it from to publicize it.
  2. As far as I can tell, the rumour about why the Canucks traded Jared McCann are true. I won’t go into detail about what those rumours are, but if you followed the team at the time, you know the one.
  3. This is a family website, but let’s just say Jacob Markstrom gets around a fair bit.
  4. Jim Benning desperately wanted to draft Connor Bleackley instead of Jared McCann in 2014, and had to be forcefully talked out of it, allegedly. The same also applied to Elias Pettersson vs. Cody Glass, also allegedly.
  5. Something potentially libelous about Jake Virtanen that I can’t repeat. It’s a doozy, though. Unfortunately it’ll have to remain a mystery.

And for those of you that want to know: I still have no idea if there’s any truth to the Kesler/Schneider rumour. Some people insist it’s true, others that it’s a total fabrication. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the bottom of that one.

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Jeff Veillette: the time everyone in slack changed their name to a variation of “Jeff Veillette” and it got incredibly confusing and difficult to figure out who was speaking. On a less specific note, going to Young Stars and meeting Rhys Jessop, J.D. Burke, Biecher, Drance, and Garret Hohl was definitely a highlight.

J.D. Burke: The IMac fiasco, but also how everyone would mention J.D. endlessly in the comment section and blame him for all the negativity, even when he hadn’t written the article.

Ryan Biech: Getting the opportunity to get my feet wet editing and getting to see him bring in Chris Faber, who I have known since I was literally 9 years old.

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Probably that I never enjoyed covering individual games. I was always grateful to be doing it, but I never felt like it was a strength of mine. I much prefer deep dives and analyzing transactions.

Here’s another one: members of the media are pretty nice and supportive.

As far as I can tell, actual mutual contract termination is rare to nonexistent. What usually happens is that teams are allowed to terminate a contract due to the player breaching that contract, at which point the player has to clear unconditional waivers. I’m not an expert on the CBA, but I genuinely can’t think of a reason that a player would support mutual termination of a contract rather than being bought out, unless they thought they could get more on the open market.

One of the many reasons I’ve decided to take a step back from writing about hockey (for the time being) is that I discovered the joy of podcasting, which isn’t quite as lucrative yet, but is frankly a lot more fun, and probably a better platform for me at the moment. Recording more is definitely in the cards, although it’s not entirely up to me. I will say that I only intend for the Roxy Fever Media Empire to expand and grow as time passes.

The only way I could be more sure it happened is if I was in the room myself.

The Jason Botchford eulogy is definitely one of the only times I’ve felt like I was writing something that absolutely needed to be done. Honourable mentions go to my White House article and the piece I did for Ricochet media on Bill Peters’ firing.

Realistically, non-essential travel is going to have to be limited for the next several months, so I think cancellation would probably be the most prudent route to take. At this point, whatever they come up with won’t really be NHL hockey, so my preference would be for the league to cut its losses and focus on how they’re going to handle the 2020-2021 season.

As far as the draft goes, I think determining positions by points percentage makes the most sense, with the bottom 5 teams taking part in a draft for the first overall pick (which never should have been changed in the first place).

Current: Elias Pettersson

All-time: Kevin Bieksa

First favourite player: Todd Bertuzzi

I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “moving in a different direction”, but to the extent that there’s been a change in direction, it’s happened largely under my watch and with my input. There’s been more posts coming from Nation Network HQ than there were in the past, but frankly I think that was inevitable, and it’s something that’s happened at the other Nation sites, too.

I can’t speak to whether or not I was well-suited for the role, because obviously I’m too close to the situation, and incredibly biased. What I can do is let you in on a little secret: tone and attitude have very little effect on readership. The universal consensus among former CA contributors I’ve spoken to is that the site used to be far more savage in its criticisms, and that if anything, we’ve gotten soft over the years. As much as I’d love to say that I figured out the science behind what would get views, I never found any particular blueprint for getting people to click. Sometimes an article with a negative slant would get a ton of traction, other times it wouldn’t. The same goes for articles that were complimentary of the team’s management and brimming with positivity about the future.

I think ultimately people come to CA for a variety of reasons. Some people come for the analytical deep-dives and simply put up with the sarcastic tone. Others come specifically because they hate us and want to get mad. (In fact, I’ve become increasingly convinced that those people are our most loyal readers). It may come as a shock to you, but some people actually really love the snark and come here specifically to get it. They’re mad at ownership or management and want to go somewhere where someone will give it to them straight, without resorting to euphemisms or beating around the bush, and that can often only come when you aren’t afraid of losing access or damaging your relationship with a source. I don’t think there’s a specific approach to writing that’s better, but I do think it would be incredibly boring if everyone was perfectly reverential and wrote in the same voice or tone. At that point, you might as well just be a robot.

This is a tough one, but I think the time I got into it with someone who briefly contributed to the site who was outright lying about his contributions takes the cake.

Unless she helps abolish the monarchy I’m not impressed by her decision to leave.

Right now? Unquestionably. It’s not even particularly close. I think Dahlin ultimately has the higher ceiling, though. Whether or not he reaches it remains to be seen.

I get asked this all the time, and I always say the same thing: I generally don’t turn down podcast appearances. They invited the other hosts of RF and I on at the beginning of the season but then one of the hosts blocked me so nothing came of it. At this point, I might want to lay down some ground rules before making an appearance, but I generally want to keep my reputation as someone who has time for people if they want to hear from me.

For the time being, nowhere. I’m taking a full step back from writing about hockey, at least until there’s hockey to write about again. For about an 8-month period, I was plugged into the hockey world 24/7, and frankly, it drove me a little insane. I promise when I find a landing spot, you’ll know.

Gosh, that’s a tough one. I think one time I got asked what the best thing before sliced bread was. That took a lot of soul-searching and considerable research.

Probably not. Winning a Stanley Cup is really hard, and sometimes even the best GMs never get reach that milestone. From what I’ve seen, Jim Benning has a genuine eye for scouting, but he’s going to limited because he struggles to see the big picture, particularly when it comes to contracts. Having said that, far worse GMs have won a Stanley Cup in the past, so it’s definitely possible.

I’ll go with Vancouver. As good as Vegas did in their first year of expansion, I’ll take the team that actually exists and has a core of good young players over a hypothetical roster of cast-offs. In fact, I think a Stanley Cup is well within reach for a team with this core, but the supporting cast needs a serious and radical overhaul.

Question 1: Honestly, there are too many reasons to count. CanucksArmy has changed. More importantly, I’ve changed. There was a time when I genuinely believed I had to rise and grind every single day, and that anything I didn’t do for money was a waste of time. I could not possibly feel more differently now. My perceptions of the industry and my place within it have altered significantly since I started writing five years ago. In the end, I felt like I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be and also be the managing editor of CA, so I decided to take a step back.

Question 2: John Weisbrod, no question.

Question 3: Me, obviously.

Question 4: J.D. Burke, obviously.

When I think about my time with CA, there are two things that stand out. I’ll miss driving the conversation around the team, and the power of being able to create talking points in the media and Canucks Twitter that didn’t exist before one of our articles came out. It was always unintentional, and I never really got the hang of figuring out what would gain traction, which is probably for the best, but it was a ton of fun.

The second and most important thing was the work I put in with our writers, helping them hone their skills and produce content that wouldn’t have been as strong without an extra set of eyes. I’m writing this on the one-year anniversary of Jason Botchford’s passing, and getting to be a part of the efforts to honour his legacy by helping new writers and treating them with the same respect as I would a 20-year veteran of the industry was always important to me. I know a lot of people in this market don’t like me very much, but I received nothing but praise and thoughtfulness from the other contributors at CA, and for that I will be eternally grateful.