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Backhand Shelf

 

Hey, remember the post I wrote before this one? No? Me either, it was forever ago.

Long story short: I’m the web editor for theScore’s new hockey blog, “Backhand Shelf,” where I’ll be posting 20 (literally) times a week. So please, check it out!

Backhand Shelf

An Update

Howdy friends!

Sorry about disappearing there for oh, a hot month or so. It’s been a remarkably busy summer here. We put on the fantasy camp, I’m starting a new job (more on that later), I’m getting married (more on that much, much later), we “built” an office in our apartment after deciding not to move (wait til you see a picture – we turned about 12 square feet in a badass set-up w/ a TV), and are planning a honeymoon. Also, we’ve been working and trying to get in shape.

Again, busy.

All of this settles down the second we get back from our honeymoon September 27th. Then the new job starts October 1st – the good news: I will be literally writing 400% more posts. (Up from 5 to 20 a week. If you count BB, up from 10 to 20 a week, soo….hockey!). I’ll reveal the details a little further when I’m allowed to.

My dear old Dad will be staying at our condo while we’re gone (flying back to NY for wedding, back here right after) to keep Tyson and Jiggs company and oh yeah to have a free place to stay in Phoenix in late September. So we appreciate that.

When I return to work in October, this site will still be used on occasion, I think. It will just return to it’s original form, a personal blog where I write about stand-up comedy and news and thoughts and cats and all that other bullshit. I’m looking forward to not feeling like I have to comment on hockey here. Plus, 20 posts a week might leave me a little dry of anything original to say.

But until then, it will remain relatively dormant.

Hope your summer is going well – follow me at @jtbourne on twitter, and let’s catch up!

Help The Islanders

 

http://www.lighthousehockey.com/2011/7/27/2297211/rock-the-referendum-contest-get-out-the-vote-for-aug-1

I’m in Santa Cruz with Easton, then flying to Kelowna, so I’m too busy right now to do better than this but….please, join in.

Column: Five Goal Scoring Tips

 

Hey gang. Wednesday’s work should be up on HPT soon, here’s….

New Puck Daddy: 5 goal scoring tips. Hope you like it!

Stick Stylings and Summer Workouts

 

New Puck Daddy X2: How I prepare my stick (I think I wrote about that once for Bourne’s Blog years ago too, shh), and the progression of summer workouts. Hope you like ‘em.

Bourne, Man of Infrequent Posts

 

Howdy friends.

Just a quick note for ya here: it’s been a battle to try to get back this blog and write something after resuming the work with the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp and taking on new work with Easton. I truly apologize for the sporadic nature of posts, and at some point they may get back to a measure of consistency, but I just can’t be sure when.

I’d be forcing it, and that’s not fun nor necessary for me.

Everytime I get the bug, I’ll be back! For now, I’ll probably just be linking to my daily posts.

This blog has taken me to somewhere I never thought I could go (steady employment!), so it’s not going to go anywhere except on the back burner. Think of Chris Jones’ “Son of Bold Venture” where he posts a few times a month. It’ll probably end up being more like that when it comes to real, legit posts. Especially during the off-season.

Thanks so, so, so effing much to all of you who’ve helped me get the opportunities I have now, I can’t say enough about how fun this has been so far. Follow me on twitter, and I’ll be sure to let you know every time I drop a real post on Bourne’s Blog! Thanks,

OH MY GOD IT’S A HUGE KITTEN FRIGHTENED BY A LOUD GARBAGE TRUCK

Jiggsy at eight frickin' months.

{By the way, that sounded like a eulogy…it wasn’t. Just wanted to let you know the days I do write will be less common than the ones I don’t. Get it, got it, good.}

Are The Flyers Better? Should They Have Made Those Trades?

 

Well hey, remember me? It’s been awhile folks, and for that, I apologize.

Since we last talked (I think when Dubya was still in office), a few things have happened during the NHL’s off-season.

I don’t remember exactly what, but I’m pretty sure the Florida Panthers hired some actual NHL players, the Philadelphia Flyers had some grenades explode in the middle of their dressing room, and the Sabres found their long-misplaced wallet.

Crazy stuff.

Since there’s not a ton of news in the hockey world these days, let’s talk about those things, one at a time, of the course of this week. Started with the most compelling story….

These are not your grand-pappy’s Flyers

Actually, that header for this section sucked. These aren’t even your Flyers from last season. I’ll save the full overview paragraph, because by now you know the gist of what happened, so…Cole’s Notes: cornerstone guys that would ensure the Flyers would always be at least playoff-level-good Mike Richards and Jeff Carter got traded for a whole bunch of “yeah that guy’s pretty good’s” and the right to overpay a very good goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov.

Oh, and they signed Jaromir Jagr.

…Wait, what? Seriously? Hm.

Maybe he wasn't the most lovable guy, who knows?

Anyway, the team has gone from the decades-long philosophy of ”if your team is good enough, you just need a living goaltender to win” to “goaltending is obviously the most important position on the ice.”

Here’s an uncommon opinion: I don’t hate what they did.

Detractors of the trade will cite that they were in the Stanley Cup Finals just a couple years back with a similar looking team, and that’s fair. But let’s keep in mind it’s not like they mowed through a Conference that they were clearly the best team in. They just got hot at the right time, as teams occasionally do.

The picture going forward for this team, is that they have to get by some mighty fine teams at the top of their conference, and they didn’t feel like what they had was going to be able to do it.

Philly never seemed to be able to get past the big moments in the past (save for the comeback against the Krejci-less Bruins). Something was just…off. Whether it was in the dressing room or on the ice, there was something missing…. They always just seemed good, yet rarely great.

If that’s how they felt in the front office, which they clearly did, I’m okay with them heading in a new direction.

I don’t think there are many people out there making the case that they won’t be good next year, it’s just a matter of if they’ll be better or not. They’re still well-stocked up front, on defense, and finally, in the net. The past two Stanley Cup champions have relied heavily on depth throughout playoffs, and I think they got better in that regard.

They still have enough play-makers to score, and in the dressing room….sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth when it comes to leadership. Whether the guys like him or not, having less people that’ll openly resist Chris Pronger’s occasionally overbearing form of it is a good thing. He’s dragged teams to the Final before, and he can do it again.

You can’t really know until you see them play but I’m curious…what do you think?

Column: A Fresh Start With A New Team Can Rejuvenate A Career

 

New Puck Daddy: how a fresh start with a new team can rejuvenate a player’s career (Puck Daddy)

*****

Since July 1st I’ve been spending my days learning more about a job of mine that’s recently changed. I know the posts have been infrequent, so thanks for your patience. I will keep everyone in the loop, of course, and it won’t hinder my ability to actually blog once I get the hang of it. Hope everyone (in the US) had a great long weekend!

Tribute To A Bar Buddy, Barry Wilkins

 

New Hockey Primetime: The many questions of an unrestricted free agent. ….Seriously, I go over like a thousand of them, it’s a long column.

New Puck Daddy: TJ Oshie signs a mere one year deal, so I discuss how players need to be disciplined (with the partying) to be successful. I mean, one year for this kid? They must be wary about something.

*****

When I first moved to Phoenix, I knew one human in the state, an old buddy from high school who just happened to move here too.

Unfortunately for me, he has a wife and two young kids and two businesses, so….we weren’t about to be hanging out a ton any time soon.

It’s no secret that Bri and I like to stop in to our favourite pub for a couple drinks here and there, so after we found our apartment, I made it a personal mission to find the closest, cheapest place, and establish a ”home.” At the end of my work day, sitting in silence and typing, the quest was a nice excuse to go have a pint and a little conversation. Twitter can only take a man so far.

I misfired at first, thinking I had found my home at Majerles (Dan Majerles’ bar, obviously). It’s a classy place with an awesome happy hour – $2 domestic pints, no tax – but it’s kind of got a corporatey feel to it. It’s one of three in the chain, the TVs have sports on but the sound is never on the action (music, boo), and it’s just a little….well….too nice. I mean, a granite bar? Do I look like I use a monocle?

We have a great little organic food store near our place that we discovered after a few months in our place that’s about a one song drive away. Tucked behind that, was Nate’s Third Base – “your last stop before home.”

Nate’s is owned by Nate, a 27 year old with a wife and three kids who bartends at his own place. It’s a “Boston bar” (irish pub, really) with a lot of TVs (with the sound on one), the NHL package, a projector screen for big games, an amazing happy hour, and it’s on a man-made lake. It’s even wheelchair accesible for my brother, whom they love. It was perfect (wood bar!), and it’s now my local haunt.

I was starting to make a few more friends thanks to playing on a rec hockey and softball teams, but still not that many. You don’t meet a lot of people working from home (let alone when you’re pushing 30), so Bri and I remained bar visitors.

The people from Nate’s make up the majority of people I know in town to this day. From the bartenders to patrons, that’s where my local friends have come from.

One of those guys was part of a crew of 60 year old gents who come in on Wednesdays and Fridays and stay for the entirety of happy “hour” (3-7pm), Barry Wilkins. Being that he was once a Boston Bruin, Pittsburgh Penguin and scored the first goal in Canucks history, we naturally hit it off well.

Barry pre-mustache. His cookie duster became the stuff of legends.

Barry was the life of the bar – the more he drank, the more he bought me drinks, so it was always a laugh to walk in and see he was well under way. And, the more he liked you, the more he called you a dork, big dummy, or piece of shit, which is something you become accustomed to in the hockey community.

About nine months ago he met my Dad, and they shared some laughs about hockey in the 70s, repeatedly making fun of themselves.

A month later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. This morning I attended his service.

It all happened so fast I’m not even really sure what to say about it.

He started missing the odd Wednesday and Friday, and when he came, he was quieter. More listening, less talking. When he got really weak, he stopped coming entirely. He was a proud man, and told his friends he didn’t want them to see him like that. They were pretty shook.

Probably everyone at his service today knew him better than I did, but at a time when it was just nice to have someone to BS with, let alone about hockey, he helped me adjust to my new life here. I’ll miss the big bear paw handshake when I walk in or out of Nate’s on a Wednesday or Friday. I’m just glad I moved here in time to meet him.

Barry Wilkins was 64. I’m guess that’s roughly the number of beers that will be consumed in his honor by his friends at Nate’s today.

First goal in Canucks history is a damn cool stat.

Path From Drafted to NHLer, Looking At Hall-of-Fame Voting

 

New USA Today: From drafted to training camp, how new prospects get to know their organization

New Puck Daddy: Hall of Fame voting, and why I’m a fan of looking beyond the numbers

*****



In the wake of a long season of writing, I won’t be blogging here until Thursday or Friday, when I want to write about free agency. I’m finalizing my agreement with Easton as well this week, so this summer I should be doing more stuff with them (and trying to hustle free swag to be won as giveaways on this site, woo).

I’ll keep you posted on what the program is going to be, but rest assured I won’t be abandoning the site this summer, I’ll still be writing. Check back at your leisure, and I’ll be back in a couple days!

(Oh, and I still have columns out, so I will post the links)

A Beginner’s Guide To Using Twitter Effectively

 

New Puck Daddy: what a bad dressing room is like, and the Philadelphia Flyers

*****

As Twitter becomes a bigger part of my life, both for entertainment and work, I find myself learning more about how to best use the site. I happen to think I’m pretty decent at using it, so today I’m going to share some opinions with you guys.

Hopefully those opinions help you use the site to it’s full potential so you get the most enjoyment and value possible out of the site.

The basics

I’ve written this quick note before, but twitter is a big conversation – just because you don’t have to say it to someone’s face, doesn’t mean you get to be an asshole. If you hate what someone tweets, DON’T FOLLOW THEM. Just move on.

THE RETWEET – If you’re going to retweet something someone said with comment, your comment goes first, followed by RT, followed by the original tweeter’s @name and comments. As in, a normal RT from me would read:

From @jtbourne

“The Islanders. RT @NHL Who do you think will win the Cup next year?”

Don’t make up your own —> to show your comment, or just add it willy-nilly. Don’t // don’t ….. don’t >>> …just do it the proper way. (And yes, if it’s from an iPhone it’ll look different or something, that’s fine.)

Content

If you’re someone with something to promote, as most people are, there needs to be a balance between promotional tweets and normal (preferably funny) ones. The Twitter account @OfficialGretzky is the perfect example – it’s Wayne Gretzky’s official twitter feed. I doubt Wayne knows his people even have one up in his name (I don’t really, but I am sure he’s never used it).

I had to unfollow the other day because the previous ten tweets were ALL pushing something – I think a gym, or workout product…whatever it was, nobody wants that. It’s like inviting advertisements into your feed, like requesting additional commercials in your TV show, like not filtering spam from your emails. It’s horrid, and for someone with a predictably large following, brutal.

I have a column up every day that I share with people (it gets the columns hits, which my bosses like), and sometimes I have two, if the thing I write on this site is worth it. I also AVERAGE 15 tweets a day (including responses to people), so somewhere around 10% or less of my daily tweets are pushing something for personal gain. Plus, I’m pushing something free that I hope people enjoy, so it’s different too. Because of that, when I do have stuff to sell (Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp, anyone?) I don’t feel remotely bad about throwing it out there.

{By the way, my numbers are low – even 20% of your tweets could be promos and nobody would flinch. Maybe more.}

What to tweet about?

People probably follow you for a reason. In my case, they follow for my insight in hockey (and because I’m HILARIOUS). Thus, you owe your followers to at least generally discuss the thing they follow you for (if it’s just your friends as followers, than you’re the topic, genius). I have many interests: golf, cats, every other sport ever, I have a personal life, all that stuff. I pepper those things in occasionally, and I think it helps show people you’re human (it’s why Bob McKenzie has more followers than Darren “The Robot” Dreger). But in the end, I think at least 60% of your total tweets need to be on the topic that has people interested in you.

I’m pulling numbers from my ass, but it sounds about right.

Once you’re on that topic, the discussion flows naturally – it’s likely you’re all into the same news as it comes into the cycle, so share. For me, Twitter was CHAOS when Philadelphia made all those trades yesterday. Tonight it’ll be on the draft. Wednesday it was on the Awards show. It’ll be trade rumours up to July 1st.

You just share your opinions and let people react, then interact.

@jtbourne: I still think Philly is gonna kill it next year. Solid three lines, good d, and they finally have the goalie they’ve needed.

Boom, there’s a tweet (albeit a bland, boring one, but whatever, it’s an example). Now Flyer fan will write to say they won’t be able to re-sign so-and-so, we’ll discuss cap room, etc.

What to re-tweet

Anything that actually made you LOL, anything that has information you think your followers would be interested in, NOT COMPLIMENTS OR INSULTS.

I stopped following a hockey media guy that I like because his RT’s were constantly different forms of this example: 

“Thanks! RT @Whoever444 Great column today! Love your work!”

Why the hell would you do that? To let people know others like you? You can write them back directly “@Whoever – Thanks!” Your followers don’t need to be involved.

And just is bad is when any of the professional contrarians who could not be any more excited to straight RT someone who calls him a moron. If it’s a funny insult or something, sure, but otherwise….why? Pity? Do they think they’re the only ones receiving dickish messages?

I’m not saying I’m all that great at using Twitter, I’m just saying I use it enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully you found this helpful, and hopefully it’ll inspire some of you who aren’t involved to try it. It’s the first place you hear news (Winnipeg Jets!), it provides a million great links to stories if you follow the right people (“who to add” is a column for another day), and it’s great for promoting your work.

Oh, and one more thing:

I delete a lot of tweets. Here’s why: I tend to spend my time before bed getting columns from twitter and reading them. I often feel like interacting with others around that time, so I tweet something that would generate opinions (great for crowd-sourcing before writing, BTW).

Once I’m tucking into bed, I’m done talking about that topic, so I delete, so I don’t have to respond to 50 new messages that people threw out while I slept. Especially when it’s an argument about something, like the legality of a hit, it’s no brainer to just have the replies stop when I’m done dealing with it. I deal with it then, then it’s over. You can do this too.

Anyway, I couldn’t love the site any more, I’ve even got Bri into it too – you can follow her at @briannagillies if you like cat pics and hearing about our lives. I’m @jtbourne as always.

Have a good weekend, and we’ll talk to you soon!

Columns: Getting Back In The Gym, Drafted vs. Undrafted Lifestyles

 

New Hockey Primetime: When players start to get back into workouts after the season

New Puck Daddy: The different lives of the drafted and undrafted players in the minor leagues (you know how it is – up soon)

Twitter and the Exposure to Extreme Fandom

 

New The Hockey News: Why I wish the great Nick Lidstrom had retired

New Puck Daddy: on the NHL Awards, and why it’s not just a “happy to be nominated” situation for players. They wanna win

*****

If you’re interested in my NHL Awards predictions, they’ll be running on Puck Daddy at some point tomorrow before the event starts. And yes, I changed my mind on a few of my picks from the end of the season.

*****

Okay! I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite some time: Hardcore Fandom. Keep in mind, this is only aimed at those select few who take it too far and too seriously.

I didn’t realize it existed until the birth of twitter, to be honest.

I mean, I knew there were folks who loved their team so much that they might paint their face and spend a bunch of money on a ticket to root for them. I knew there were folks who might name their baby after an old hero, or decorate their rec room in the colors of their favourite squad….but I guess I didn’t realize that they meant it.

Fun fact: every team dives but yours. No really, I just wikipedia'd it. FACT.

Apparently, for some, it’s not in fun. It’s important.

Now, most people are going to read this and go, “yeah man, those (Insert City) fans are the worst,” or at the very least think their fanbase is slightly more reasonable than whoevers, but I assure you, that’s not the case. None of them are without their crazies.

This isn’t a pity cry because some people yelled at me on Twitter, or me on my high horse judging people who genuinely care about a sports team, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

It’s not even close to everybody – the majority of fans are reasonable, but they’re not the ones who chime in and speak on forums like twitter and comment sections. When you agree with an argument, you just sort of think “sure, good point,” and move on. When ardent fans disagree, it becomes a seething tirade that generalizes another entire city.

I am a “fan” of the New York Islanders (I’d prefer to see them win over any other team). But I assure you, I’m aware that they’ve been very, very bad for a very long time now. I really don’t think I let my preference for that team get in the way about how I discuss them and their players. Some fans on twitter and comment sections and chat forums, for reasons beyond me, are not able to separate their rooting interests from reality.

I apologize in advance for the upcoming rant, but after a season of hearing this stuff, I need to address words that I hate that “Hardcore Fans” use to describe their opponents’ players – these terms, to me, make the accuser come off looking immature, oblivious, unreasonable and far too serious about a game. In fact, they make me uncomfortable:

Cry/cries/crierThis one is most often thrown at Sidney Crosby, a player more targeted than any other in the league, who’s involved in more offensive-plays-per-game than any other, who has the puck more often than anyone else in the danger areas, etc. It was the same with Gretzky – the guys who take the most abuse because they’re great and complain about it (like everyone else), get the label.

But beyond Sid, the accusation itself is so elementary school, so petty. To generalize a group of men with that word from home is just so feeble. ….Walk into their dressing room and drop that on them, I assure you we’ll find out who’s in tears before that day is over. (The following paragraphs also applies to the phrase “whines.”)

This stuff is funny, don't get me wrong - but if you really believe it, it gets sad.

Dives/diverThere are a very few players in the league who consistently dive, and we know who they are. Beyond that, everyone occasionally embellishes to get a call. There is no team in the league who has a collective plan to dive, I promise you that.

The reason I hate this one so, so much, is because it’s an out for fans. Some people seem to genuinely believe their guys NEVER actually deserve penalties. There are plenty of times on the bench as a teammate  where you go “oh fuck Smitty, you can’t hook him there,” and you go out and kill it. You understand that your guys, just like their guys, are fighting for inches.

So why can’t the hardcore at home understand that? And further, why should penalties always even out in a game? Sometimes one team took a lot more penalties than the other, legitimately. I’ve heard stuff like “of course they won, they had five powerplays to our one!”  ……YA. Because your team took more penalties which is bad.

Class/classy“Real classy Philadelphia.” “Show some class, Boston.” “Classy as always, Vancouver.”

I hate this shit.

Heyyy, lookit the pic I found on Google images...

The team-coloured glasses so many people view games through makes them oblivious to what goes on during the course of a hockey game. While we’re not here to discuss one incident (seriously, do not comment on this): Burrows biting Bergeron was not a classy move. Lapierre running with it was not classy. Recchi being a 43 year old vet and not being able to move on from it wasn’t classy. Lucic snapping out and dragging it out was not classy.

Yet each fanbase found cause to ding the other one on class-factor, and where they lose out, they find a “yeah but they….” I swear it’s like refereeing gym class with 12 year olds.

The deck of cards that is players and teams get shuffled, mixed and swapped every year, yet somehow one team constantly stays classy and the others maintain a reputation? Nahsomuch.

Let me end the rant on that stuff by reminding you – the sweeping majority of fans are reasonable folks, have been supportive of my work, and I appreciate each and every day I post an article and don’t fret about how it will be received. I have no problem with people reasonably disagreeing, as readers have been doing on this site, specifically, for years now.

Photo evidence that all the Washington Capitals are clearly whining classless divers. ...or something.

But the name-calling, dismissive bullshit really made me turn colour a few times this year.

I think we’re still learning how to interact with people online, and especially when it comes to writers - for years, they were just words in the paper, and if you disagreed, that was that. The columnist never had the opportunity to learn your take or discuss it. So, when readers finally did have that opportunity, they came out with flamethrowers to make their point.

It doesn’t have to be that way, for one, and two, you need to understand that hockey players don’t come to your team and change. There’s a draft, there are trades, and it’s mostly random chance. You likely have guys that complain, or embellish, or whatever it is you hate about City A as much as the next team.

Just enjoy the damn game. Root for your boys. Tell me why you disagree with my opinions.

This rant doesn’t mean don’t love sports, don’t love your team, don’t discuss them with passion. I’m just saying that just because I think Daniel Sedin should win the Hart and you think it should be Corey Perry doesn’t make me a drunk, oblivious moron who doesn’t know shit about hockey.

*****

Yayyyyy, that was fun, wasn’t it? I’ve been planning on writing that since about day one of playoffs, but there was always something a little more important to discuss.

Hope you enjoy the Awards show – I’ll be writing about it Thursday for Puck Daddy and over here.

Bruins Deserved to Win The Cup

 

New Puck Daddy: Why Boston was the best team in the Final and deserved to win the Cup

*****

Apologies if any of you received a spammy email from me about needing money to be shipped to London or whatever – I’ve been hacked. And, now shit is wonky here too now. Just had a whole post deleted here, somehow, and I’m going to effng snap.

Please enjoy my happy fun times column, if I don’t re-write the post, well, I’m sorry.

Tomorrow’s the start of my bachelor party! I will be writing for Puck Daddy as usual in the morning though, so be sure to stop by for that.

Tis The Morning Of Game 7 – Here’s My Column On It

 

New Hockey Primetime: a “Midweek Musing” on Game 7, and why tonight’s game will be low-risk, but exciting

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