An Email Interview with Brian Costello of The Hockey News
By Patrick Hoffman
If you're a hockey fanatic myself, you need to do yourselves a favor and become a subscriber to The Hockey News.
Often referred to as the "Hockey Bible", The Hockey News is simply the best hockey publication out there. They magazine features great articles, has a terrific staff of writers, and is a publication that everyone who is important in the hockey world more than likely has.
This is why I am proud to present an email interview I conducted with Brian Costello, a senior editor at The Hockey News. Brian was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he became a hockey fan, who his favorite team (s) and players were, how he got a gig with The Hockey News, and much more.
PH: Growing up, how did you get into hockey?
BC: My father and older brother introduced me to the game at age 4 or 5. It was pretty much the Canadian thing to do for every kid. Power skating lessons the first year, community hockey every year after.
PH: Who is your favorite team and player? Why?
BC: Calgary, Alberta didn't have an NHL team when I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s so my attention turned to the Calgary Centennials of the major junior Western League.
As for NHL, my dad was a Chicago Blackhawks fan so I was attracted to them as well. Bobby Hull was the unstoppable Golden Jet back then and I adored him. But because I was a defensemen, I patterned my game after rugged Blackhawk blueliner Keith Magnuson.
The skill never came to me, but I like to think I was as tough as him – comparatively, that is.
PH: At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to work in hockey?
BC: Probably as far back as I remember – 4 or 5. I didn't work hard enough at getting better as an athlete so by my early teens I knew I'd have to find a different path.
I loved stats and I loved writing so I worked hard at that and made it my focus during my university years. I dreamed of one day making it to The Hockey News.
PH: Tell us about how you got a gig with The Hockey News?
BC: I was in my second year as a sports journalist in Swift Current, Saskatchewan when The Hockey News senior writer Steve Dryden came to town working on a story in 1986. He gave me good advice at the time, we kept in touch over the next four years, and by the good fortune of that encounter I interviewed with Bob McKenzie at The Hockey News and landed a job there in 1990.
PH: What is your role (s) with THN?
BC: I started off as a copy editor, which in a few years evolved into editor of special sections such as Draft Preview, Future Watch, Poolbook, etc. The passage of time turned me into a senior editor and I'm still passionate about these special issues, not to mention all of our issues.
PH: What is it like working for the best hockey publication in the world, also known as the "Hockey Bible"?
BC: It's been a dream come true. Young hockey players dream of playing in the NHL, young sports writers dream of working for The Hockey News.
I've been blessed to make it to this great publication and almost 30 years later I still love doing my job. I get paid to watch hockey, and to write and edit hockey stories. I never take that for granted.
PH: How has your outlet managed to have so much success as both a print and online outlet despite the fact that everything seems to be going digital these days?
BC: You're right, publishing has been a flagging industry for more than a decade now so it hasn't been easy. We have a dedicated staff here, but none of what we do today would be possible without our owner and publisher Graeme Roustan believing in us in 2018 and taking a financial and spiritual leap that we could make this work.
Not only has Graeme breathed new life into our brand, but he has expanded The Hockey News in a multitude of ways, from page count in the issue, to digital support and diversification, as well as video expansion and other ventures. In short, he is a visionary for the survival of the publishing industry. When TV came into vogue 70 years or so ago, they said radio would die a slow death. It didn't, it evolved.
Publishing will be the same. It has to evolve and Graeme Roustan is steering the course for our evolution.
PH: What are the long-term goals for THN?
BC: The Hockey News is a thoughtful voice of reason, insight, analysis and opinion. We cover the sports world from grassroots hockey to hockey outside North America to women's hockey to the business of hockey, while never forgetting about the history of the game – in all our platforms.
We don't have a contract with the NHL so we're truly an independent, journalistic voice without any vested interests or agendas. There aren't many of us left. We don't plan on changing that. We plan on being around for a long time and continue to evolve.
PH: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us regarding your publication?
BC: I'm often asked by young journalists and interns how I can get my foot in the door at The Hockey News. We have a small staff of about 10 people and there isn't much turnover so the best advice I have is to start your efforts at other smaller publications or media outlets and use that as a proving ground to work your way up.
I spent five years at four other smaller publications, refining my writing and editing skills before I was ready. Same goes for some of our other staffers like Ken Campbell, Matt Larkin and Edward Fraser, developing in small communities for years before getting their break. And suggestions for freelancers? Pitch us a unique or captivating story that's well-written and we'd love to share it with the rest of the world.
Pitch us a story on Sidney Crosby being a great player and we'll take a pass – we've written that before.
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.