10 Oct The New Thing I’m Doing
Ever since I was a young fan in New Jersey reading my father’s daily newspapers from back to front, I wanted to be a sportswriter. Wanted to tell the stories. Wanted a say in the debates. Wanted to add my voice to that hyperbolic cacophony of joy and anguish that defines us as sports fans.
To have had the chance to live out that dream over the last two decades – first at a weekly newspaper, then in the digital media – is one I’ll never take for granted. To have had people actually give palpable shits about the things I’ve said or written is an unquantifiable honor.
As you know, I left Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy blog recently to take on new challenges.
And I can finally reveal that next challenge:
I’m now the editor of The Athletic: Newark.
Just kidding. I’m totally working for ESPN.
My first day is Oct. 16. I’ll be writing daily, podcasting weekly, doing an occasional magazine piece and getting involved in all sorts of video fun. And I’m fucking euphoric to join a team that values hockey and its potential, as well as the getting the chance to play in an entirely new and elephantine sandbox.
I still have a lot to learn about the new gig, and will be attending an actual orientation for the first time since freshman year at Maryland. I’ll share details on where to find my work when I’m smartened up.
The last few weeks have been really surreal, between leaving Puck Daddy and announcing the end of “Marek Vs. Wyshynski” (at least in its current podcast incarnation). It was a bit like attending my own wake, where so many people had so many lovely things to say, while about five percent of the attendees were like “good riddance, asshole.”
(So, basically, my actual wake, one day.)
What all the emails, texts, tweets and comments brought home to me was how much our coverage resonated in different ways with a variety of people. Maybe you liked the quirky news we reported. Maybe you liked the analysis. Maybe you liked the tirades against idiocy. Maybe you liked the pop culture whimsy. Maybe you liked the mind-walks we took on the podcast. Maybe you liked the goofy videos we did. Or the Jersey Fouls. Or maybe you just wanted to know what it was like to take tequila shots with an NHL referee. (Spoiler: Salty!)
The point is that the breadth of this reporting was always by design. My approach to covering hockey has been to broaden the tent as large as we could expand it. To create as many entry points to the sport as possible. To bring as many different voices into the conversation as I could, so hockey didn’t feel so rigidly monolithic.
This is what I’ll continue to do at ESPN.
Now, hockey and ESPN haven’t exactly been, you know, synonymous. And I haven’t shied away from lamenting that through the years: The time the NHL was pushed aside for Texas Hold’em on television or those times it wouldn’t get featured on Big Important Lists or when the game highlights would air about 30 seconds before the end credits on SportsCenter. And we can still lament these gaffes and foibles together; only now I might actually have a chance to “well, ACTUALLY…” a colleague that, like, ranks Secretariat ahead of Mario Lemieux on the all-century list.
Which is, again, why I’m salivating at this challenge. For nine years at Yahoo, I banged down doors to get hockey noticed. I knew how to pitch our coverage to a general audience without sacrificing our hockey cred or alienating the hardcore fans that read us. And it wasn’t easy finding a space for hockey stories on Yahoo.com, what with the continued existence of the Kardashians. But we made our case, and it was featured.
So I look forward to finding new and inventive ways to get hockey noticed at ESPN.
But here’s the thing: Those doors at Yahoo didn’t fall without the overwhelming force of our readers surging behind us. You made those arguments for us with your passion and your patronage. Hence, my only goal is to help build something at ESPN.com that earns your trust, your loyalty and your daily visits as hockey fans.
It helps that I’m working with some incredible puckheads over there. Emily Kaplan is a brilliant writer who gets it. Chris Peters is an old friend that’s slaying on the prospects beat. I’m excited to take my turn with the bellows alongside the others that have kept the hockey flame burning at ESPN for years – Linda Cohn, John Buccigross, Arash Markazi, Steve Levy and the like. The editors I’ve interacted with are thoughtful, inventive and committed. I assume I also now have access to Barry Melrose’s cigar stash, or at the very least one of his sport coats.
I’m also looking forward to finding the other hockey fans in the mothership that want an outlet for their fandom. I imagine this will require me to construct my own Cerebro to detect these mutants, but I SHALL FIND THEM, LOGAN.
A couple of quick notes to end this bloviating:
– There are oodles of people to thank for their considerate advice on this decision. (Shoutout to Rubie Edmondson, my love, my rock, the keeper of my sanity and also the reason at least 15 percent of you thought I was going to The Ringer.) But three people in particular deserve a fist-bump: Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside and Craig Custance, who helped build the hockey side of ESPN.com into a must-read. We all know what went down with them there. That they were so thoughtful and gracious in their guidance during this is something I’ve truly valued, and thank them for it. They’ve set a high bar.
– The press release from ESPN didn’t mention PUCK SOUP, so I’ll mention it here: Nothing changes with PUCK SOUP. It’s an independent side venture, which means it will remain the chaotic, uncensored ramshackle of hockey and pop culture that you’ve (hopefully) grown to love. (And if you want more of it, go here!)
– As you know, and as you can probably now glean why, MAREK VS. WYSHYNSKI will have its final episode this week. But it will not be the final time Jeff Marek and I are spitting hockey takes. Stay tuned…
– I really need to get my ass in shape if they’re putting it on TV. Or, saving that, get them to agree to have every camera at MySpace selfie angles. Or, saving that, I’ll stand behind a cardboard standee of Joe Thornton from The Body Issue during SportsCenter hits.
– Many of you are probably wondering how your old pal Wysh’s wacky opinions and frequently colorful syntax fit in with the ESPN culture. Believe me, I’ve wondered it myself. Having the Jemele stuff going down as this announcement is made, and while I’m tweeting about the Penguins visiting Trump, has been interesting, although not nearly as interesting as being the lead story on Breitbart the day before you’re leaving your job. As I’ve learned at previous jobs, the only way to find out where the lines are drawn is to push the envelope as far as you can before crossing them. So this will be a mutual journey of discovery.
– Finally, I can’t reiterate this enough: You made this happen. By reading and listening and watching and interacting and generally being supportive of my work. I can’t thank you enough for all of it, and I hope you’ll join me inside this Trojan Horse I’m wheeling to Bristol that will burst open at some point to unleash rabid puckheads onto the unsuspecting masses.
Because there are no such things as “non-hockey fans.” There are just people that have yet to let the light of hockey into their hearts.
I’m Greg Wyshynski. E-S-P-ehhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…