29 Sep Farewell, Puck Daddy


I’ve been told that two of my greatest assets as a writer are my speed and my creativity, so naturally I’ve been staring at a blank screen for six hours and can’t think of a single clever way to announce that today is my last day at Yahoo Sports, after nine years as editor of the Puck Daddy blog.

This is a decision I made during the summer, and it’s been in the works for the last few weeks. I apologize for not being more upfront about it, but there were a lot of moving parts.

Simply put: I didn’t want to spend the next three years trying to recreate something that couldn’t be recreated. To try and maintain standards I set for myself, and for you, that couldn’t be maintained, given the changes in staff, resources and objectives after the sale to Verizon. This is very much my own hang-up, as I anticipate NHL coverage will continue to thrive on Yahoo. But it was an insurmountable one.

I know myself and how I work, and I’ve already seen how I reacted to the losses of Leahy and Cooper and Neale this year. It wasn’t healthy, and ultimately it was going to lead me in one of two directions: Overworking to overcompensate, which is my default setting, or into a cycle of complacency because we had built a machine that saw record traffic in 2017.

I didn’t fancy either option, because I also wanted new challenges professionally, and so I decided to leave. Which it turns out was the most difficult decision I’ve made in my career. But ultimately, I believe, the right one.

So to be clear: I wasn’t caught in (another) round of layoffs. I wasn’t fired for something I wrote, much to the chagrin of my new friends at Breitbart. It’s my decision to leave Puck Daddy before this season, and I thank my superiors for accepting it.

I know where my next career destination is. I can’t announce it quite yet, despite being extraordinarily excited about the opportunity. But you’ll be the first to know, officially, when it happens.

I’m sure you have a few questions, and perhaps these are among them:

What will happen to Puck Daddy?

From what I’ve been told, it’ll live on, which makes me very happy.

During those years when everyone who ever interviewed me would call me “the Puck Daddy,” I wanted nothing more than for it to be like playing The Doctor: I leave, and the blog regenerates, and someone else gets to be Puck Daddy. Hopefully they’re as good as David Tennant.

Managing editor Dan Toman, the talented Justin Cuthbert and Yahoo Canada have the helm this season. Ryan Lambert will still be bringing the hot fire five days a week. Don’t take my departure as a signal that Yahoo’s NHL coverage is waning. It’ll be different, but I’m thrilled to see where it goes from here.

Is this all happening because I never submitted that Jersey Foul?

Yes. If only I had seen your ‘CrosbySwallows 69’ Foul before the summer, none of this would be happening.

What will happen to the PUCK SOUP podcast?

Only good things. The audience is growing exponentially, and we’re ready to unleash some seriously cool things on an unsuspecting public on Monday. I’ve been assured that nothing changes with PUCK SOUP at my next landing spot.

What will happen to MAREK VS. WYSHYNSKI?

This one is a little murkier at the moment, but Marek and I are trying to figure out next steps. Suffice it to say, we want the show to continue and we’re checking out options. Hang tight.

What will happen to the Yahoo comments on Puck Daddy?

Anything short of them being bundled together like kindling and shot into the sun will be a disappointment.


I sent a farewell email to the Yahoo Sports staff last night, who are some of the most infinitely talented, dedicated and incredible people I’ve ever met in sports media. I marvel at how we’ve all managed to hang on during even the most throttling curves on the roller coaster of this company – through redesigns and regime changes and saying goodbye to old friends. Their work ethic is astonishing and inspiring.

Specifically, I’ll miss watching the brisk genius of Dan Wetzel on assignment; the cynical beauty of Jeff Passan’s prose; how bloggers like Mike Oz and Dan Devine bring the kind of ingenuity to their sports that I’ve hoped to bring over the years; and the dogged reporting of Eric Adelson.

I covered four Olympics with Yahoo. I’ll cherish those experiences always, not only for the stories I experienced but also for the camaraderie of the crew.

(During the last nine years, I also took several pies to the face during an LA Kings playoff game, got a referee suspended for doing tequila shots with me a New York bar and helped get John Scott voted in as an All-Star Game captain. This job was weird.)

I owe a debt of gratitude to the editors (past and present) that gave me the space and support to allow Puck Daddy to thrive: Jamie Mottram and Dave Morgan, who hired me from a weekly newspaper in 2008; Mark Pesavento, Matt Ryan, Kevin Kaduk, Jay Busbee, Joe Lago, Al Toby, Johnny Ludden, Marcus Vanderberg, Melissa Geisler and Bob Condor for their work on the U.S. side; and Steve MacAllister, Sam McCaig, Sunaya Sapurji and Dan Toman on the Canadian side. There are countless others. I thank you all.

(Especially you, O.G. Yahoo blog crew. I still say “Clown’s Mouth” was an infinitely better name for the golf blog than “Devil Ball.”)

But the biggest debt, of course, is to the people who contributed their genius to Puck Daddy on the page and behind the scenes.

Here’s to Sean Leahy, the single greatest blogger I know; Ryan Lambert, Jen Neale, Josh Cooper, Harrison Mooney, Justin Bourne, Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Dmitry Chesnokov, Nick Cotsonika, Ross McKeon, “The Player” and everyone else who ever had a byline on the site, be it as a staff writer or as a guest contributor. I may have given some guidance and made an edit or two, but it’s your passion and insight that fueled the site’s success. I never took that for granted. I hope others didn’t either (even if they thought I ghostwrote everything on Puck Daddy).

I wasn’t always an easy boss. Thanks for putting up with my nonsense.

I also want to thank my family and friends for their grace during all those times I had to bail on something important to find a suitable Wi-Fi signal and blog the signing of a third-line center. I promise you it meant something, to someone.


It’s possible I’ve written “I” in this post already more than I did in nine years at Puck Daddy. I always used “we” when writing first-person, which was a gimmick I stole from my old editor at Deadspin, Will Leitch.

I used it because I was fond of the idea that Puck Daddy wasn’t my blog.

It was ours.

When I came to Yahoo, I had three basic aims: To create a blog that balanced humor with journalism, one that could entertain and inform; to create a blog that offered unique perspectives and boosted the volume of writers that offered them; and to make people care about hockey who had yet to let the light of hockey into their hearts.

Much to my surprise, we also created a community of fans who dug what we did, and wanted to be a part of it.

So I thank you for these nine years of unfathomable success. For every day you went to the blog, and for every friend you told about it. For every post that started a bigger conversation in other parts of the web. For every Jersey Foul or goofy Photoshop contest entry you sent in. For every Twitter follow or Facebook ‘like’ or video view that we earned. For every chat we did, or every meet-up we held on the road. For supporting three podcasts – RIP “Puck Daddy Radio” and shout out to Rob Pizzo – and two books I was blessed to create. For supporting every TV appearance and radio hit. For giving us incredible traffic and other metrics, which knocked down walls and got hockey more attention at Yahoo Sports than I ever dreamed it would. For celebrating our accomplishments, and for calling us on our bullshit.

What I’m most proud of during my time at Puck Daddy is sharing that wealth. We made a calculated effort to include as many other voices as we could in the conversation, whether it was by quoting them in stories or linking to them in Puck Headlines or having them participate in our projects. We attempted to share our platform with hockey fans of different genders, races and sexual preferences than the accepted NHL norms so their voices could be elevated on issues that weren’t always popular, but vital. The idea was that a passionate fan could provide as much insight and analysis as that jaded schlub in the press box; and while we endured several years of pushback from the schlubs, some of whom still don’t talk to me, ultimately that theory was proven right.

I’m also proud that, right through the end, we tried to do all of this the right way. To not be first, but be best on a story. To not provide a lazy click-bait take, but a nuanced one. To always provide a fresh angle. To be forthcoming with our biases, and to always be able to defend what we write, even if you labeled it indefensible.

So I’ll end this rambling eulogy — hey, I finally wrote one! — with a pledge: That I’ll always attempt to remain true to these ideals as a writer, and the ideals behind Puck Daddy, wherever these adventures takes me next. (And I hope you’ll join me on them.)

But for now, let’s all take a moment to remember everything we accomplished together in the last nine years.

And by “everything,” I of course mean the first Photoshop contest we ever ran: “GARY BETTMAN, PORTRAITS IN HEROISM.”
















Farwell, Puck Daddy.

‘On the day I went away. Goodbye was all I had to say..’


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14 Jul On Sean Leahy

“It’s called a divining rod.”

Of this, I was sure. That Y-shaped twig that leads one to water was, in fact, a divining rod.

“No, it’s a dousing rod.”

Of this, Sean Leahy was sure. He said a divining rod sounded like something my sci-fi nerd brain concocted, and the thing we were discussing during our final rounds of drinks as Yahoo co-workers on Thursday – at Foley’s, our home away from home – was in fact a dousing rod.

We looked it up and we were both correct, which was wholly appropriate: Not only were we engaged in the sort of Seinfieldian conversation we had countless times over the last nine years, but this was a situation not at all uncommon during our time with Puck Daddy: He was right, and I was right, but only together could we get to the essential truth of the thing.

You can use a divining rod (Leahy: “DOUSING rod”) to lead a writer to water, but you need someone like Sean Leahy to figure out if it’s worth taking a drink.

The first time we ever conversed was in January 2008. I was writing for AOL (my, how times have not changed) and Deadspin, and he had a really strong indie blog called Going Five Hole. When Yahoo decided to hand me the keys to their incomparably named “NHL Experts Blog,” Leahy was the first person to whom I reached out.

He fit one of the basic standards that I have for the writers I hire: It would infuriate me when I’d read something on his site that I had intended to write myself, or that I’d never have thought of writing before reading him. And he made me laugh.

An actual email I wrote him in 2008:

“I proposed an All-Star jersey post for our FanHouse ASG package this morning. And then you go and write a really good one. Dick.”

FanHouse wanted to hire him, too, but on April 12, 2008, I was informed by Leahy that he’d come aboard this weird journey with me. “I was even thinking, even if it’s not until training camp when you’re able to pay me for Yahoo!, I’d be willing to do 1-2 posts a week to help you get things started over there for free,” he wrote, rather insanely.

I don’t know exactly how to describe what that working relationship ended up becoming. I’m humbled by it, and humbled by the amount of work he did to make Puck Daddy what it’s become. When the puzzle pieces fit together with someone like they did with me and Leahy, it’s just not something you can put into words, because frequently there wouldn’t be words. It’s like in “Ocean’s” when Rusty and Danny have that intrinsic way of communicating, speaking their own language with a look or a reference or a sigh. It got to that point with us

The blog doesn’t become the blog without us working together like we did. As he’s fond of saying: I was the face and the lead, and he was pretty much everything else. He kept it grounded, systemically and morally and spiritually. He was the first guy to speak up if he thought we were better than a potential easy-click story. He was the one who practiced what we always preached, which was not to be first on a story but be the best on a story. (Patience in the age of digital journalism isn’t exactly the norm.)

He was the one to talk me off a ledge, or lead me back from the edge of good taste. He would try to get me not to engage in petty fights on social media. It’s not his fault he’d frequently fail on that one.

We demanded a lot from each other, and demanded a lot from those around us, and those demands were the reason Puck Daddy thrived and improved and never descended into the abyss of horrible, lazy content from the sites we’d privately rage about in DMs.

(A daily occurrence: Looking at a hack post from a competitor, or sometimes in-house, and wondering if we were the last knights staggering around the battlefield attempting to do this thing the right way, as we saw it.)

Every ounce of pride I have in Puck Daddy, Leahy shared it, because there was nothing there before we arrived and we built it.

Everything that I’ve achieved since we started the blog, I share the credit with him. Writing eight posts a day, doing a dozen radio hits, hosting two podcasts, traveling, video stuff and the like … the blog didn’t suffer because the other half of its brain (the logical one) was always at the helm when I had to sail off and do these things.

And that went for life in general, too. I still remember driving to the emergency room in the last hours of my cat’s life (RIP, Mr. Mittens) and crying and frantically telling Leahy what was going down and having him just basically say “don’t worry, we got this.”

I cried again the day I found out Leahy was being laid off as a result of the merger. (Or, something; Leahy and I have yet to really understand the specifics behind his particular decision.) After we lost Josh Cooper and Jen Neale in the same month, we figured we’d move onto the next phase of the site together.

I also never figured he’d go like this: As I told Leahy that day, I had been preparing myself for the better part of nine years to hear that he’d leave on his own accord to run a site or reduce his schedule or because he was tired of my bullshit.

(We have a great relationship, but my work ethic can be psychotic and my expectations on others could sometimes veer into Wayne Gretzky’s philosophy as a coach: ‘This comes naturally to me so why can’t you do this too?’ Which is palpably unfair.)

When Leahy was finally informed about his job, I heard that thing in his voice that so many of us in the industry have heard in the last several months: That on top of all the unconscionable losses one suffers with the loss of employment, for a journalist there’s also a loss of identity. We’ve always talked about blogging as a lifestyle choice rather than a job, and for nine years this was his life. And then that life is gone and that routine is gone and you’re “Sean Leahy, formerly of Puck Daddy” and that sucks. And nothing makes sense because the really, really good ones aren’t the ones who get clipped like this.

So I’m confident that, in a short time, he’ll be “Sean Leahy of” something else. He’s too good. Not only as a writer, but as an editor. Not only as a coworker, but as a person. Other media have tried to ape what we’ve done for years – hey, here’s a handy way of doing it: Just hire the guy who helped create Puck Daddy! He’s available!

I suppose at this point I should mention the blog and its future, just because so many readers are asking about it, even though at this very moment it feels so trivial when compared to losing my better blogging half.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky through the years, considering this industry, to have great runs with great people. With Rich Gooden and Steve Lienert and Randal Smathers at The Connection Newspapers in Virginia, and then with Jeff Graham and B.J. Koubaroulis for many years more. With myself and Leahy and Lambert and Dmitry Chesnokov, and then Harrison Mooney and Jen, and then with Josh Cooper. It isn’t the norm in this business to be able to count your direct coworkers and have them total around a dozen for nearly 20 years, but like I said, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky.

As I start to work more with the new management at Oath – that’s the Yahoo plus AOL entity created in the last month or so – I’ll have a better grasp on Puck Daddy for next season. It isn’t going anywhere, and I’ve heard some exciting things about what Yahoo Sports has in store in its next incarnation.

The one thing I can assure you is that I won’t allow its standards to slip or its coverage to be anything less than what you’ve come to value as readers. I owe that to you. And I owe that to Leahy.

But yeah, let’s be real: It won’t be the same. That’s not a harbinger of doom, but rather reality: I’ve never done this without Leahy. What he brought to the blog, sometimes simply by existing, is irreplaceable. The partnership we had was forged through nine years of tireless – literally, thanks to those west coast games – work together. Every time I see a comment praising his time here, it makes me ecstatic. It deserves praise and credit and acknowledgement. Raise a glass to this Irishman, for me.

I don’t really know how to finish this post. Normally, were this Puck Daddy, this is where I’d bounce several ideas off of Sean. And then he’d tell me his idea, and I’d tell him mine, and then we’d debate it ridiculously, and then we’d both decide that the third option was actually the best.

And then I’d write the third option and get a text from him telling me I used the wrong form of “there.” Because he was always watching.

I’m going to miss that.

(Read Leahy’s much shorter and better farewell here.)

– Wysh

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23 Aug All My Nonsense From Rio 2016



You know, it’s the little things you miss when you’ve been covering the Olympics for nearly a month. Your family. Your dog. The Food Network. A bed that isn’t two double beds crammed together in a generic hotel room, where they had last night’s dinner on the breakfast buffet (seriously, fried shrimp and pizza). Cabs you can take without worrying they’re part of a network of criminals determined to steal your iPhone. Water you can, you know, drink and stuff.

I arrived back from Rio De Janeiro this morning. It’s my fourth Olympics with Yahoo Sports, and I’m in constant awe of how much quality work our staff creates in such a short period of time. And it’s not just event coverage. It’s Eric Adelson going to the bathroom where the Ryan Lochte incident occurred, or any number writers overcoming language barriers to spin incredible tales.

For me, the thrill of the Summer Olympics (this is my second, along with London) is learning on the fly. About athletes. About sports. About storylines. It’s like an ever-changing coverage, and reminiscent of my newspaper work on high-school sports vs. my hockey work. I pretty much know the particulars when I walk into an NHL press box. I’m plugging into the Matrix to download “Rugby 7s” when I walk into that Olympic venue.

And the pace … wow. Eighteen-hour days from the moment you get on site. I wrote more stories on buses in between events than I did at actual events.

I’m proud of the work I do at the Olympics, because I’m striving to provide coverage that goes beyond what you’ll see on NBC. To transport you to the host city. To give you a sense of the ridiculous, but also of the reality of the Games’ problems — cover the goofy hats at the Megastore, and then cover the IOC’s corrupt ineptitude, sometimes in the same morning.

Above all else, I’m proud to have told some really great fucking stories.

Here are all the pieces from the Rio Games, including some videos and podcasts. In total, I wrote or videoed or podcasted 81 things while in Rio. Which, I believe, was more than my total number of hours of sleep during the Olympics but sightly less than the total pounds of red meat I consumed.

Thanks for reading and listening, and supporting my non-hockey work. Now, back to pucks!

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