Repost: I can’t just quit hockey writing

My first attempt at hockey writing came back in 2005. It was a reaction to the Joe Thornton trade, and quite a sad paragraph or two, from what I can remember.

I was blogging about all kinds of things back then: theology, reflections on being freshly out of college newly married, sports and pop culture. It was all very earnest, but eventually something shifted and I began to get more serious about sports writing.

I started my own website and gathered a few contributors, and gradually narrowed my focus to the ice after being accepted for a position with The Hockey Writers, an exciting opportunity (at the time) that allowed me to cover a few NHL teams – albeit from a distance – as well as some junior hockey.

From there I jumped on to SB Nation’s Stanley Cup Of Chowder or a brief stint before writing exclusively for theScore over the past five years.

The latter was a dream job in a lot of ways, and I did not take for granted the fact I was able to watch and write about hockey for a living.

While the majority of the time I was aggregating news, I was able to get into some more feature-type writing (beginning with this take on Boston firing Chiarelli), and given assignments that really stretched my legs over the past year – breaking down specific plays, interviewing Mark Recchi and Dave Andreychuk at the Hockey Hall of Fame, returning there to talk to Sidney Crosby as he donated a 2017 Stanley Cup ring, and attending Maple Leafs practice to do a Q&A with William Nylander.

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Along the way, I also gained the confidence to start a podcast, and was asked to do a few radio spots, highlighted by breaking down the big Matt Duchene trade as the details were emerging.

It wasn’t beat reporting or covering games at the rink, I didn’t vote on awards, and I was more likely to be blocked on Twitter by hockey men than become a prominent insider (pro tip: not worth the likes or RTs), but I’m very proud of the work I did there, and the dedication with which I approached the job while going through some very difficult health situations with my wife and our youngest son.

I’ve recently made a big career change and am now working for a marketing company from the comfort of home, giving me a lot more time with my family as I cut out the relatively insane five-day a week commute from Guelph to downtown Toronto.

Still, the itch to jump into the world of hockey writing remains, and that will probably never change.

All that to say I’m available for freelance writing opportunities; you can reach me here, and information can be found at the top right of this blog, and please feel free to reach out via email or social media.

Favorite albums of 2018 (so far)

Note: I’m not a music major nor a music critic, so I can’t exactly describe why these albums are good or why I like them. 

Obviously I have a ‘type’, and this is what I’ve been listening to a lot over the past 6 months or less.

Two of my favorite bands with new albums that did not disappoint:

Ghost Alive – The Boxer Rebellion

Vide Noir – Lord Huron

Blasts for the past still banging out good tunes:

Somethingness – Our Lady Peace

12 – Sloan

Come Tomorrow – Dave Matthews Band

Wildness – Snow Patrol

Crooked Shadows – Dashboard Confessional

Fun music:

CRAZYTALK – Mat Kearney

A pair of insanely talented musicians:

No Mercy In This Land – Ben Harper

Between Two Shores – Glen Hansard

For the religious types:

Reckless Love – Cory Asbury

Evergreen – Audrey Assad

Whole Heart (Live) – Passion

There Is More – Hillsong Worship

In the continued absence of a Black Album:

Africa – Weezer

Book review: The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen by Lisa Gungor

In early 2015, our third son Henry was born.

Shortly after his arrival, our midwife pick up a slight irregularity in his heartbeat, and after taking him to see a pediatrician and a specialist, it was determined that he would need to be admitted to hospital for a procedure to repair the issue.

All this within the first 5 months of his life.

The procedure went well, although he did develop a blood clot that caused us to stay at the hospital for longer than anticipated, and required regular needles and much more follow up than we initially thought.

But, he was fine and healthy, and continues to grow into a strong young boy.

While this was all going on, I had purchased Gungor’s One Wild Life season pass, giving me access to a trio of new albums released roughly within a year.

The first album featured a song called ‘Light’ that resonated with us very deeply with respect to Henry.

Your eyes, they opened
And love was spoken
The tears came tumbling down

Your heart was broken
The words were spoken
The tears came tumbling down

[Chorus]
And the blind gained sight
As we met our light
Oh the joy and fight
The gift of life

Cut to last March, when Lauren and I went to see Lisa and Michael play an acoustic show in Toronto, a Gungor event that included some Q&A.

Having heard on the Liturgist Conversations podcast that they were both working on books, I took the chance to ask what they were about and when we could get our hands on them.

Michael responded briefly about his work, then gave Lisa the floor. She talked about their journey together, and Amalie and Lucie, and how her book would revolve around the birth of the latter.

Lucie, as we learned, was born with Down syndrome and heart complications, and her name means light.

Lisa’s response to my question, then, was an introduction to the very song that meant so much to Lauren and I, and I knew then that I needed to read her book asap.

All the more when, two months later, we learned that Lauren had been diagnosed with breast cancer, further shaking our foundation and putting life in a whole new, flickering light.

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Sure enough, Lisa’s book more than lived up to expectations as one of the best memoirs I’ve read in a long time.

In it she writes about her experience growing up in the church, her relationship with Michael, their start as a band, and of course their marriage, their doubts and unbelief, gains and losses, and their daughters, both of whom helped put everything else in perspective in their own unique ways.

Lisa and Michael’s story is much different than ours, beginning with the fact they’re Grammy-nominated musicians who now live in Los Angeles and hang out with people we can only admire and respect from afar.

But it’s also not that much different, having been raised religious and in a culture of purity before marriage, struggling to learn what it means to be a husband and a wife as well as parents, and suffering through loss and trial along the way.

At the end of the day, it’s important for someone to acknowledge that the effects of trauma last far beyond the event itself, and it’s good to be reminded that we’re not alone; Lisa wonderfully expresses both in meaningful ways in this book.

I wanted to add a quote to this review, but I didn’t even mark the book up with pencil as I usually do because the whole thing is entirely underline worthy.

All this to say – please pick up this book, listen to Gungor and support their music, and be thankful that Lisa was willing to let us into her story in this way.

Like this song, it’s a gift.