The Hockey Writers‘ Jim Parsons, Sr. writes under the nom de plume “The Old Prof.” Dr. James Parsons, PhD uses the pen name to avoid confusion with his son and namesake, THW’s Jim Parsons (Jr.). While the Old Prof can’t do much about the aging process, he continues in the “Prof” mode, with online courses for three Canadian universities. Jim, Sr.’s academic career includes teaching stops in such far-flung places as Scotland and New Zealand, with a several-year layover in China. (He led the team that developed an English language program now used throughout that country.)
The Old Prof’s academic accomplishments include over 100 published books, uncountable journal articles, and the prestigious Alberta Teachers’ Association Honorary Membership, the organization’s “highest honour.”
For TheHockeyWriters.com, The Old Prof primarily covers the Toronto Maples Leafs (although he often writes about other Canadian teams). His portfolio includes some 700 stories and columns over the past several years. I recently had the opportunity to ask The Old Prof about his career with The Hockey Writers. Here’s what he told me.
My Favorite Stories
The Old Prof says he hasn’t written an academic book since he started covering the Maple Leafs for TheHockeyWriters.com (although it sounds like he has no regrets about that). Here are some of the hockey stories that stand out for him.
“Removing the Toronto Maple Leafs From the Cup – Some Personal Thoughts”
I wrote a post about my father taking me to the old Maple Leafs Gardens when I was a child. When it was locked, he knocked on the door until a custodian answered. When my dad told the custodian he wanted to show his son one of the great arenas in hockey, the custodian allowed us in and we were able to walk alone through the empty arena. My dad, typically a quiet man, went on about Maple Leafs hockey. I was too young to recall his thoughts, but I remember his joy as a father to show me where the Maple Leafs played.
“Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews Is Undergoing a Transformation”
I sometimes have opportunities to use my academic research and background in the posts I write. For example, the season after Auston Matthews got in trouble in Scottsdale, Arizona, for bothering a female security guard, I was able to write about what I believed was his transformation of character. I was pleased he had — to my mind — learned a valuable lesson and wrote about what I thought he’d learned.
Interesting to me, the post was reprinted in a Scottsdale newspaper after being posted by The Hockey Writers. It reminds me that sometimes our work as hockey writers can impact the greater culture and society.
“Toronto Maple Leafs Should Let Mitch Marner Sit for 2019-20 Season”
Because I was troubled by the negotiations between the Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner when Marner was a restricted free agent, I posted my thoughts about those negotiations.
What I liked about that post was that The Hockey Writers received a note from a professor who had taught Contract Negotiations at University of Toronto Law School for over 20 years. His note and his background suggested “the analysis in your article is excellent, and your suggestion is completely consistent with best negotiation practices.”
Are There Any Columns You’d Like to Forget?
There are no specific posts I’d like to forget. That said, I hate making an error — a typo or a misspelling — but I do. That bothers me; however, I have a great bunch of readers who tell me kindly (really nice people). In my work with The Hockey Writers, I’ve tried to employ the same rigor of craft and theorizing in my daily posts that I did in my academic work. I haven’t simplified vocabulary or my ideas. At the same time, I try not to be arcane.
Finally, I believe my age allows me to write from a positive (sometimes sappy) perspective. I try to focus on the positive aspects of hockey — the teamwork, relationships, celebrations, and the ability of hockey players to impact their fans and their society. Thus, I’m a fan of Carey Price and his wife for fully engaging their charity work.
Sometimes my heart goes out to these young men who entertain us by playing hockey and who hear really negative commentary. Mostly, they’re kids. As a result of perhaps my teaching background and my age, I’m going to be appreciative rather than critical. If I’ve said anything overly critical about any hockey player, I’d like to retract it.
Following The Old Prof
The Old Prof publishes regularly with The Hockey Writers and you’ll find his articles on the Toronto Maple Leafs (and other teams) prominently displayed as they are published. But to ensure you don’t miss any of his commentary, you can follow him on Twitter:
Here’s a link to a collection of The Old Prof’s stories on The Hockey Writers.
(And Pete is quite proud of himself for getting this far without mentioning “The Big Bang Theory.”)