[Aside from Ilya Kovalchuk, news in the NHL grinds to a halt in August. As you recharge and reload for the upcoming season, join me as I take a look at five websites in my web rotation that you might find interesting. Everyone knows about TSN, Puck Daddy, and the heavy hitters of the NHL online world; but these sites offer something unique that separates them from the pack. Today 'Crashing the Crease' sits down Matt Reitz of ViewFromMySeats.com]
The Hockey Writers: Thanks for joining us Matt. Tell us about where the idea for ViewFromMySeats.com came from.
Matt Reitz: Actually, VFMS wasn’t strictly a hockey site in the beginning. When I started the website, it was just a place for me to write about anything going on in the world of sports that I wanted to talk about. Because I’m not a very well-rounded individual, just about all of my friends are as obsessed with sports as I am. We’d trade emails, talk trash, and talk about what we thought about any given situation. One of my friends said that I really should be working for a newspaper because my emails were better than some of the everyday columnists. My dad had always said that I should be writing a column from a sports fan’s point of view (to have a purpose for all of the useless sports stuff in my head), so I decided to start a website. The View From My Seats is actually the suggested name my Dad had for me if I were to submit articles to local newspapers. I liked it, so it stuck!
Are you looking to fill a certain void or are these simply random musings and topics that fill your head on a daily basis?
About a year and a half ago, VFMS evolved into a hockey only site. I had always been looking for a place where I could read about stuff going on around the league, but not in the typical, sterile, reporter’s point of view. I wanted a site that talked about hockey like I do with my friends. I wanted a place that I could start my day off—everyday—with a good article that would make me read, laugh, and actually think while giving me some decent insight. I could never really find that place, so I started it myself.
As the site grew, we were unique position to start pulling people in from around the net to talk about hockey. It’s great to talk about what’s going on around the league, but sometimes its best to hear from someone who religiously follows the team 82 games per year. With that in mind, another thing we really try to do is bring people in to have multiple voices from all around the league. Those are the kinds of things that I’d want to read—so those are the kinds of articles we try to produce.
As a long-time Kings fan, who was your favorite player growing up? (You can’t say Gretzky)
Paul Coffey, without a doubt. The way he played, the speed, the excitement of the end-to-end rushes—he was one of the guys that really got me hooked. Hell, I even wore my skates too small so I could be like him! Interestingly enough, one of my best days as a hockey fan was the day the Kings acquired my favorite player from the Pens. I can’t even adequately describe how happy I was. On a related note, one of the worst days as a hockey fan was less than a year later when I was wearing my brand new Paul Coffey Kings jersey and he was traded for Jimmy effin’ Carson. Don’t even get me started—I still haven’t dealt with that emotionally.
Any special memories from the day the Kings acquired Gretzky from Edmonton?
There are a few things I remember, but neither are necessarily related to the Kings on the ice. I became a hockey fan a year before Gretzky headed south solely because my best friend’s family had tickets. I remember when the 4 of us went, there were about 11 other people in the rest of the building—and most of them were there because the Forum gave them free tickets at a Lakers game. I remember talking with my friend on the day of the trade, both of us thinking, “Man, there are going to be a lot more fans at the games now.” We talked about how exciting it would be to watch Gretzky play 82 times a year and then we quickly moved on to the new jersey he was wearing at the press conference. What do you want from me? I was a kid… my attention span sucked.
The other thing I remember about the Gretzky trade happened 15 years later. I was up in Vancouver for a concert and honestly had NO idea that it was the anniversary of the trade. This being the first time I had ever been to Canada, I was still trying to get my head around how much people liked hockey compared to California. When I crossed the border I may have said, “I’m finally with my people!” May have. When I flipped on TSN in the hotel room after the concert, I had missed the first minute or two of SportsCentre. But for the next 15 minutes, they just talked about the Gretzky trade, how horrible it was for the country, and how Janet Jones was a terrible human who must have played an instrumental role in taking their National treasure from them. There was even a Police Academy 4 joke. I remember thinking, “Wow, we’re in the middle of summer and these people are STILL harping on the Gretzky trade? They need to get a hold of themselves and get over it.” Apparently I had missed the lead-in that talked about the 15 year anniversary, so I thought this was all coming out of left-field. It wasn’t until about a year later that I put two and two together and realized there was a REASON for the hate-fest in the middle of August!
Needless to say, people in California have better memories of that trade.
What’s one trade from this year’s deadline that an NHL GM might wish they could hit the ‘Return to Sender’ button on?
Is there another option besides Joe Corvo to the Caps? The Caps seemed desperate after it became apparent they couldn’t acquire anyone else to help out their blueline. A lot of us thought Corvo was a reach in the first place, and his play down the stretch didn’t do anything to prove us wrong. For his time, they gave up Brian Pothier (who might have been better than Corvo straight up), a valuable 2nd round pick, AND a decent prospect. The Caps probably would have been better off just sticking with Pothier.
Funny thing, Corvo ended up signing with Carolina anyway as a free-agent. Well, maybe that’s not so funny in Washington.
(Honorary mention goes to Daryl Sutter hitting the do-over button on the Olli Jokinen trade. If for no other reason, it wouldn’t have been as awkward when they re-signed him this offseason.)
San Jose, Anaheim, and Los Angeles all look to have promising futures. Give us the ‘State of Hockey in California’.
Anaheim is the past, San Jose is the present, and Los Angeles is the future. I could give you a long-winded answer that talks about Scott Niedermayer, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Drew Doughty. But the past/present/future think just seems more eloquent.
Are there any other cities in California that could support an NHL franchise?
Probably not. There is talk about the Ducks trying to figure out a way to get their AHL affiliate in San Diego, but that might be as big as it gets. NHL, no. But if the AHL ever started to expand out West, I’m sure all 3 teams would be interested in having their prospects a little closer to home. 3,500 miles for an emergency call-up isn’t the perfect logistical situation.
Can hockey remain in Phoenix long-term?
Sure it can. The most important thing for the Coyotes to do is win. Take a look at the playoff attendance figures and you’ll see a tangible example of how everyone loves a winner. I look back to the beginning of last season when everyone was bashing their attendance and wonder how many ulterior motives were in play. Take a step back: The Coyotes were a team that hadn’t been very good for a long time—and there were serious questions whether they were going to be there for the entire season. Why the hell would anyone invest time or money for a crappy team that could be leaving in mere months? When a team wins, all of those financial charts look a little more feasible.
Interestingly enough, I had the chance to attend a game in Vancouver and Phoenix only a week apart last season. If you ever want to see how stark of a contrast you can find in the NHL, try doing that trip. In fact, I was all prepared to write a piece on how hockey in the desert was a joke and they just needed to pull the cord. Before I actually attended the games, my preconceived notion was that the team in Arizona was on life support and it was only a matter of time.
But when I went, I came away with a different feeling. The fans in GM Place and Jobing.com Arena had a lot more in common than people would think. Both were passionate about their teams—honestly, the only difference I found was that there were just MORE fans in BC. But in Phoenix, the fans were awesome. They were as passionate as any fans I’ve seen anywhere and were much more willing to engage in conversation than their Vancouver counterparts.
All I know is this. If the Coyotes win, they’ll bring in fans. More fans mean more money. And after encountering the fans that I did, I certainly HOPE they stay there.
Your weekend series “I Might Just Be a Hockey Fan in California” is one of the highlights of my NHL rounds. Any exciting features readers should expect from you in the upcoming season?
In September, we will be rounding up some of our favorite writers from all over the hockey blogosphere to do previews from all 6 divisions. It’s one of those things that we did last year and it was great to see how different people in different cities had different expectations for the upcoming season.
We’re working on a couple of other projects—so those should be popping up around the internet, as well. Aside from that, we’ll be doing various interviews and roundtables to get ideas of where fans are coming from. I’m not sure how exciting any of those are, but it’s what we do.
You live in California and you reveal an interest in fine wine on your site. Name one California winery our readers should keep an eye out for?
Seriously, that’s like asking a music lover to name their favorite song! How do you choose just one? What mood are you in? What are you eating? Is it a summer day or a cold winter night? These are important questions if you want me to answer this question properly!
One of the good things about living in California is there’s never a shortage of good wine around. If you like big wines with tons of fruit, just about everything Biale does is great (and nothing too expensive). Another great producer that makes really good everyday drinking wine is Carrefour Vineyards. They’re relatively inexpensive, just a pain to find. But if you can find their Pinot, Merlot, or Cab Franc, buy it and thank me later!
Big thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions and I encourage everyone to check out ViewFromMySeats.com. Let me know what you think. If you have a website or blog you’d like to nominate, email us at CrashingTheCreaseTHW@gmail.com.