An Email Interview with Hockey Personality John Shannon
By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to hockey media, there is one person that has been involved in all facets of it.
That person is John Shannon. Shannon, let go by Rogers Sportsnet (a mistake), has been a big part of several networks coverage of our favorite sport and was kind enough to take some time to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became involved in the media side of the game, and much more.
This was an absolute honor to do so I hope you all enjoy it.
PH: Growing up, how did you get into hockey?
JS: I grew up in a town (Oliver BC) that had no arena and the lakes rarely froze. My love of the game began on radio and television...watching Hockey Night in Canada and listening to games from Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, as well as CBC's Sunday night radio broadcast. I suppose that's why I became such a television/radio guy.
PH: Who was your favorite team and player? Why?
JS: Living in BC, my favourite team was obviously the New York Rangers. Kidding aside, I grew up in the time of the Original Six and loved to hear games on the radio on Sunday night's from the old Madison Square Garden.
I loved Andy Bathgate. In that time, I was a huge devotee of the old Pro Western League...the Canucks, the Totems, the Buckaroos, the Roadrunners, The Gulls...you can guess what cities they are in. For me, when Bathgate came to Vancouver for the WHL Canucks at the end of his career was fantastic. Eventually Vancouver received an NHL franchise and and I watched as many games as I cold on TV and at the Coliseum. That's when a standing room ticket was 3 dollars!
PH: At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to work in hockey?
JS: I wanted to be a broadcaster from the age of 8 and if you are Canadian, you want to be a hockey broadcaster. So I supposed those two things went hand in hand. I went to University and received a degree in broadcasting, and worked for HNIC while I was going to school. So I guess the real answer is it started early.
PH: If you could, please list what outlets you have worked for in a hockey-related capacity.
JS: I have worked or been involved with the following networks/organizations: - Hockey Night in Canada - SportsChannel America - NBC - CTV Network - Global Television Network - Minnesota North Stars - NHL - Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, who own the Toronto Maple Leafs - NHL Network - Rogers Sportsnet
This also includes more than 30 Stanley Cup Finals, seven Olympics, Canada Cups, World Cups, and Memorial Cups.
PH: We saw that you played a role in creating Hockey Day in Canada with CBC. How did you come up with the idea for that?
JS: Quite simply, really. My boss, Allan Clark and I had always talked about the NHL Triple Header on a Saturday night involving all six (at that time) Canadian teams. Then Allan suggested we try to add a Canad vs. USA Women's game first, which was a brilliant idea. We were unable to procure the rights to the women's game because Hockey Canada and TSN in Canada would not sell it to us. I implored Allan not to give the time back to the network and we would a four hour pregame show for our three NHL games. My son, Jake, was playing minor hockey at the time and I really believed we could give some exposure to some positive stories in other hockey a well as discuss some of the issues facing the game in Canada. Remember, this was after the disaster of Nagano in 1998 and everyone, including Hockey Night, was looking for answers and solutions for our country's hockey misery.
PH: We were very sorry to see you be let go by Sportsnet. What did you enjoy about working there in various hockey-related roles?
JS: I loved Hockey Central at Noon particularly because it was/is seen in both countries. For many fans, we were a daily update on the game and I know for a fact that the teams (particularly in the U.S.) watched every day.
In the last two years, I spent a great deal of time in arenas for the Oilers, Canucks, and Flames, mostly when they traveled East. It was great to get out of the studio and into the arena again.
PH: If you don't mind us asking, what are you looking to do now? We hope you'll be staying in hockey!
JS: I hope so too. It shouldn't bee too long before the Twitterverse is telling me I'm stupid again.
Remember, it's not what happens to you hat matters. It's what you do about it that counts.
PH: What is it like for working as a media member in hockey these days? How much has it changed from when you started?
JS: Well, it certainly is a much bigger business than when I started. There were a few years when I was making as much money as the players and coaches I was following.
That certainly isn't the case anymore. Social media has helped promote the game in the past decade, as as have cable sports networks.
In the end, if you can tell a story and be fair to all involved, it really hasn't changed much at all.
PH: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us hockey fans?
JS: I have spent 44 years around the NHL and the game of hockey. I love it as much today as I did when I was 19. I have seen change and growth, sometimes for better, sometimes not. I truly believe I have not really worked a day in my adult life because of the game and television.
The reason for that is the people. People have made the game great and enriched my life and the life of my family.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.