Interview: Barstool Sports Rangers' Blogger - @610Barstool

Interview: Barstool Sports Rangers' Blogger - @610Barstool

An E-mail Interview with Barstool Sports’s Rangers’ Blogger @610Barstool
By Patrick Hoffman

If you follow me (Patrick Hoffman) on Twitter, then you know that I am a big supporter of Barstool Sports.

Yes, the outlet is controversial. Yes, the company does things differently than every other sport outlet and yes, they seem to come under a lot of scrutiny.

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With all of that said, I think the outlet is awesome. They have a great staff, they all work hard, and they make both sports and pop culture fun, which is what really matters, right?

Anyways, I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with the site’s New York Rangers blogger. Requesting anonymity, he will be known in this e-mail interview by his Twitter handle, which is @610Barstool.

He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became a Rangers’/hockey fan, what his favorite piece of memorabilia is, how he got the gig with Barstool and of course, his thoughts on this year’s Rangers’ squad.

Enjoy, everyone!


PH: Growing up, how did you get into hockey?

@610Barstool: Well, I’m a little older so I was part of a generation that would actually go outside and play. My first love when it comes to sports was baseball, but there was a kid in my neighborhood who played hockey. It started with a couple of us friends shooting a ball into the net in his driveway & eventually turned into neighborhood street hockey games whenever it was light out. First on feet, then some of us got roller blades and eventually I started playing ice. Didn’t take long for hockey to take over as #1 for me. If I wasn’t playing, I was pretending to in my room, reorganizing hockey cards, clipping box scores from the paper, etc. Like I said, I’m old.

PH: Who is your favorite team/player?

@610Barstool: Rangers, no doubt about it. My family wasn’t a big hockey family, but there were a few lukewarm Islanders fans. We had a table hockey game that was Isles vs Flyers. I was never allowed to be the Isles so I hated them from the jump. Made the Blueshirts decision really easy for me.

As far as my favorite player, it’s Tony Amonte (I’m dating myself here). Forget about Pavel Bure and Nicklas Lidstrom, the ’92 rookie of the year was Amonte’s. I was heartbroken as a kid when he was traded in ’94, but a Cup celebration helped me get over it. I followed him though the rest of his career – even had an Amonte Blackhawks jersey.

PH: Considering the Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave is filled with tons and tons of hockey memorabilia, what is your favorite piece of hockey memorabilia that you own?

@610Barstool: A Tony Amonte signed puck. But, I remember one time I went to a Blackhawks/Isles game at Nassau Coliseum. After the game, I ran to where the Hawks left the ice and I was screaming for Amonte to give me his stick. I’m very tall to begin with and at this point I was way too old to be standing among 8-year-olds begging for a player’s stick. Amonte gave me a look of absolute disgust and just kept it moving into the tunnel. I swear, the look he gave me is burned in my brain forever and I get a pit in my stomach just thinking about it – but if I would’ve actually gotten a game stick of his at that time it would’ve been worth the risk (and reality) of embarrassment.

PH: How did you get into covering hockey online?

@610Barstool: It started (and will end) with Barstool.

PH: How did you get a gig with Barstool Sports covering the Rangers?

@610Barstool: Well I’ve always been huge Barstool fan – way back when it was just Dave Portnoy running one site solo out of Boston. He announced he was looking for writers to launch the New York site so I sent in some samples even though I had no idea how I’d juggle it with my “real” job. Eventually Portnoy told me he thought I was good but he was going with two guys who were clearly better (KFC and Kmarko).

Soon after the NY site launched, KFC posted a blog about a fundraiser that was being run at a bar near me for a friend of his who had a pretty bad accident. Turns out his friend was the son of someone I worked with at the time, so that’s where KFC and I first met. We talked and he brought me on to cover the Blueshirts & NY Giants. Pretty sure that was 2009. I took a hiatus, but for the most part, I’ve been contributing ever since.

PH: What is it like writing for Barstool? It seems to continue to grow and grow, which I think is great for the sports media industry as a whole.

@610Barstool: Now that Barstool has exploded into the mainstream, I’m just a speck in the organization – but I’ve been there well before just about everyone except El Pres, KFC, Kmarko & fellow puckhead Rear Admiral, who covers the Bruins.

When I started, I was just excited to be a part of the site I read religiously. I would also contribute some humor blogs which was fun too.

In the beginning, I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake – but for anyone who thinks blogging is easy, it’s not. Especially for the guys who grew the site in the beginning churning out a blog every 40 minutes (while doing their regular jobs too), EVERYTHING had to be funny. So, they’d spend maybe 20 minutes or so crafting a hilarious post only to have another one due in another 20 minutes.

I respect the hell out of the core bloggers because if even just one of them sucked or was lazy, I’m not sure the company is where they are today – and right now they’re simply unstoppable.

As far as their impact on the sports media industry (though they’re obviously so much more than that now), Barstool has always had a cult following among athletes. But each sports-specific blogger like myself brings the unique aspect of speaking as an unfiltered fan first & readers respond to that.

Some writers may have bigger aspirations but I think, for the most part, we’re not trying to parlay a contributing gig with the Stool into something mainstream and media friendly. I prefer to write my own opinions on my own schedule without worrying who likes it or not, sprinkled with a little knowledge that a non-rabid fan might lack. This is the perfect niche & the site’s growing popularity brings more people to us sports-only guys.

But for major players like the PMT guys, they’re redefining the industry. Podcasts like Spittin’ Chiclets and Starting 9 hosted by both Barstool personalities and pro athletes who fit the Stool mold to perfection have taken off.

Pat McAfee is an absolute juggernaut. The list goes on and on – but it’s apparent that the masses are tired of the stale ESPN regurgitated structure. Anyone can Google box scores and stats now. Twitter has all the highlights you need. If people with any semblance of a sense of humor want access to sports entertainment (among other things) on their own terms, they’re flocking to Barstool. It’s pretty incredible.

PH: What are your thoughts on this year's Blueshirts squad?

@610Barstool: Well for the past month & change, the Blueshirts have been one of the best teams in the league as far as wins and losses are concerned, winning 13 of 17 (heading into matchup vs Dallas on December 11, 2017).

But, all that’s done is bring them within striking distance of the pack of five Metro teams ahead of them. So, while winning 80% of their recent games is awesome, there’s still a ton of work to do in a highly competitive division. Their schedule has been very friendly as far as home games & off-days are concerned so the rest of the way will be a grind for sure.

They’re very balanced up front. Zibanejad is growing into the bona fide number one center NY had hoped Stepan would be – they need him back ASAP. Pavel Buchnevich is instant offense. Kevin Hayes has surprised me with his defensive play up the middle and Jimmy Vesey’s effort is starting to translate to points.

If I go through all the forwards, I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone that’s played regularly other than needing a better option up the middle than David Desharnais. They’re lacking a true superstar, but that’s nothing new for the Rangers.

It's a relief to see Henrik Lundqvist find his way back, that’s for sure. He’s been fighting a back-and-forth battle with Father Time over the last couple seasons, but right now I think he’s as close to vintage Hank as I could ask for. He’s been a top-5 goalie in the league since November. The only question is whether or not he can stave off another significant slump the rest of the way while most likely racking up the most playing time he’s had in years Ondrej Pavelec proves to be reliable.

Defense is what will make or break the Rangers and, despite all the wins, there’s still significant question marks on the back end. Kevin Shattenkirk’s overall offensive numbers look good, but no one’s been on the ice for more 5x5 goals than Shatty.

There’s a wildcard with the puck on each pairing, ready to give it away to whoever wants it (Nick Holden, Shatty, and Brendan Smith). Brady Skjei has been solid, but hasn’t made the jump offensively that I expected – although he’s gotta be the “stay at home” guy paired with Shattenkirk.

Smith is an adventure in the defensive zone. I think the forward scoring and goaltending are masking the minimal improvement the defense has made from their awful start to the season.

They’ll need to get much better or a move will need to be made on the back end to sustain the team’s current overall success.

PH: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us puckheads?@610Barstool: Nope – enjoy the rest of the season!

Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.

 

NHL Network: One-stop-shop for Hockey Fans

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As hockey fans, there are many different outlets to get your hockey fix. At The Cave we may be biased since we were on the NHL Network, but Patrick Hoffman lays out why him and most hockey fans are fans of the NHL Network. Read more in our latest edition of the HOFFensive Zone blog.

Canucks, the Real Deal?

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Nashville Predators: Ain't No Rest for The Wicked

Nashville Predators: Ain't No Rest for The Wicked

Predators Picking Up Where They Left Off

By Patrick Hoffman

After getting to the Stanley Cup Final last year for the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have picked-up right where they left off.

As of this writing (November 30, 2017), the team is 15-6-3 with 33 points, good for third in the extremely tight Central Division. The team is also just two points out of first place in both their division and the Western Conference behind the St. Louis Blues.

This season at least, the team's success starts with the play of their netminder Pekka Rinne. The 35-year-old netminder is certainly not playing like one as he looks as agile as ever between the pipes for the only team he has ever played for.

In 19 games this season, the Finnish masked man is 14-3-2 with a 2.29 goals against average, a .928 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. His success is coming from being tall in the net, being in good position for not only the first shot, but the second and third attempts, and he's also playing with the confidence he gained from taking his team to the Final last season.

The Predators are also getting balanced scoring. Leading the way is Filip Forsberg, who leads the team with 25 points (12 goals and 13 assists). He has been one of the team's most consistent offensive players the last three plus seasons and that does not look like it is going to change anytime soon.

Following Forsberg's offensive lead are the likes of Viktor Arvidsson (9 goals and 8 assists for 17 points), Ryan Johansen (3 goals and 14 assists for 17 points), Kevin Fiala (2 goals and 12 assists for 14 points), and Craig Smith (8 goals and 4 assists for 12 points). These guys may not have gaudy numbers, but they are more than serviceable forwards and can definitely contribute offensively.

What's interesting this season is that the team has gotten a lot of offensive production from their defensemen this season. P.K. Subban (4 goals and 14 assists for 18 points), Roman Josi (6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points) and Mattias Ekholm (6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points) have been studs this season and have certainly helped the club's offensive output so far this season.

The team has also been solid when it comes to special teams, especially on the power play.  With the man advantage, the Predators are currently third in the league at 25.8%. On the penalty kill, the team is also third in the league at 84.3%.

This team is clicking on all cylinders and are one of the deepest teams not only in their division and conference, but in the entire league. Should this kind of play keep up, they might find themselves with another shot to win hockey's Holy Grail.

Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.

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Islanders Offense Firing On All Cylinders, but Will It Last?

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Can the Lightning Continue to Strike?

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Bobrovsky, Back-to-Back Vezinas?

Bobrovsky, Back-to-Back Vezinas?

What about "Bob"?
By Patrick Hoffman

When it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets, they go as their starting goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky goes.

As can be seen in the early going this year, the Blue Jackets are once again off to a good start thanks to the strong play of the man they call "Bob". As of this writing (Monday, November 20, 2017), the Blue Jackets are second in the Metropolitan Division at 12-7-1 and are tied for third in the Eastern Conference with 25 points.

A lot of their early season success is due to the play of Bobrovsky. In 16 games, Bobrovsky, 29, is 11-4-1 with a 2.02 goals against average, a .933 save percentage, and two shutouts.

League-wise, Bobrovsky is third in the league in goals against average, fourth in the league in save percentage, third in the league in wins, and third in the league in shutouts. What all of this adds up to, so far at least, is a bid to potentially win back-to-back Vezina Trophies as the league's best masked man.

There are many reasons why Bobrovsky is showing once again why he is one of the world's best goaltenders. It all starts with his positioning.

What makes Bobrovsky so good is not only does he put himself in the right position to stop the initial shot, but he also is able to make second and even third saves because he is in good position. This makes him extremely tough to beat.

Another reason why Bobrovsky is such a good goaltender is because of his flexibility. He can make saves using the splits with regularity and as he showed recently against the Detroit Red Wings, stopping a two-on-none is not that big of a deal to him.

"Bob" is also successful because he is one of the most consistent masked men in the game. When he is healthy, he gets his team a lot of wins, puts up great numbers, and does everything he can to get his team into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With that in mind, assuming his team can get into the postseason for the second straight year, Bobrovsky needs to learn to carry his strong regular season play into the Cup tournament. In 18 playoff games, Bobrovsky is 3-10 with a 3.63 goals against average and a .887 save percentage, certainly no where near good enough numbers to win when it matters the most.

If Bobrovsky can learn to play well in the playoffs, the Blue Jackets could become legitimate playoff contenders. It is now up to him to show his franchise and the rest of the league that he is up to the task.

Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.

Events That Changed the Way Hockey is Played

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HOFFensive Zone Interview: Rob Cressy, Bacon Sports

HOFFensive Zone Interview: Rob Cressy, Bacon Sports

When it comes to digital media in the sports world, Rob Cressy of Bacon Sports is a big deal.

He produces podcasts, videos, blogs, web sites, and more and is quite the entrepreneur. He is a HUGE sports fan and when it comes to the NHL, is a big fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Rob was kind enough to take some time out of his busy day creating content and chat with me via e-mail about hockey, his love for the Penguins, his favorite piece of hockey memorabilia, and how social media is a great tool when it comes to hockey and their fans.

PH: Growing up, how did you get into hockey? 

RC: I grew up in Pittsburgh, which was one of the greatest sports blessings ever. Mario Lemieux joined the Penguins when I was 4 years old so he was my first exposure to the sport. Then Jagr joined him. Then they won back to back Cups when I was 11 and 12 years old. It's safe to say I was hooked.  

PH: Who were/are your favorite teams and players? 
RC: Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jagr, Patrick Kane. 

PH: Being that this is the Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave and that it has a ton of hockey memorabilia, what is your favorite piece of hockey memorabilia that you have? How did you acquire it? 
RC: I have a puck from when I visited the Hockey Hall of Fame while on my mini-moon. I got married in Buffalo and we weren't going on our honeymoon for a few months. We decided to drive to Toronto for a few days immediately after the wedding. While there we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which was incredibly awesome. That's when I bought a puck to commemorate the occasion. It still sits on my desk and I look at it every day. 

PH: Tell hockey fans how you got involved with sports from an Internet/marketing/social media standpoint. 
RC: I have always dreamed of working in sports. I have always been a sports blogger, initially for other sites and then for my own. I was successful at my day job of digital advertising sales, which I did for 7 years, but it wasn't what I loved doing. That's when 6 years ago I had saved up enough money and decided to quit my job to pursue my dream of turning a sports blog into the awesomest sports media company ever. From there I learned how to create content on all platforms in various ways (articles, videos, podcasts, live streaming, photoshop). As part of that I learned as much as I could about social media marketing, since that has been the primary way of growing the brand. 

PH: Tell us why you think that social media is a great tool for hockey fans. 
RC: It's about being informed. If you love the game then you want to know as much as you can about the things you love. It is also a great way to follow it if you don't have a ton of time. You can just curate your social feeds to show the content you want. 

PH: Is there anything else that you'd like to share with us crazy puckheads? 
RC: I believe the Penguins can win a third straight Stanley Cup. Will it be easy? No, but winning a Stanley Cup never is. As long as they have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, then they are going to have a chance. In a series against any team with those two I like the Penguins chances. I'm also rooting for a Penguins vs Blackhawks Stanley Cup. I've lived in Chicago for the last 10 years and have watched and rooted for the Blackhawks. With the core of both teams having won three Stanley Cup's each, yet somehow never playing each other in a Final. It's something that I want to see. It would also be a dream matchup for the NHL.

Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.

Jimmy Howard in the Driving Seat for the Wings?

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Goalies & The Hockey Hall of Fame - Is it about the numbers?

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Niemi - Is it time to hang up the skates?

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What the $*@( is wrong with the Rangers?

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ESPN + Greg Wyshnski = Better NHL Coverage in the USA

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Looks like ESPN is looking to showcase more hockey to their USA markets by adding Puck Daddy: Greg Wyshnski. Can Wyshnski take NHL hockey to the levels of NBA, NHL and NFL in the USA? The HOFFensive zone has more!

Read now.