For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

25 April 2007

Michael McKinley...a true hockey writer

This is what CBC tells us about Michael:
A Vancouver resident, Michael McKinley has penned several hockey-themed best-sellers, including The Magnificent One: The Story of Mario Lemieux, Hockey Hall of Fame Legends, Putting a Roof on Winter and Etched on Ice. He has also written for The Guardian (London), The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated. McKinley was selected by the CBC to write the English-language book that will accompany the Hockey: A People's History television series, set for publication in October 2006.

And here's what Random House says about him:
The author of Putting a Roof on Winter and The Magnificent One: The Mario Lemieux Story, Michael McKinley is also a journalist, a documentary filmmaker, and a screenwriter. A Vancouver native, he was educated at the University of British Columbia and at Oxford University. His journalism has appeared in England, the US, and Canada, including the Guardian, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, and the National Post. He has also written and produced several documentaries for CNN and an episode of South Park.

And here's what Bleu, Blanc et Rouge says about him:
You may have seen him on CBC, read his books, or witnessed him playing pick-up hockey somewhere where ice exists this winter, Michael McKinley's the hockey writer and more importantly, hockey fan, you want to meet.
He was kind enough to offer us some insight on his life and hockey through this interview, and also tells perhaps the best story of Lord Stanley's Cup journey as written in his succesful book Hockey: A People's History and as seen in the television show on CBC (same name).
Thanks again Michael, I hope you all enjoy it!

1) First off, I'd like to congratulate you on your book's "Hockey: A People's History" success.
Tell us, what prompted you to write it in the first place?
Thank you. It was a pleasure to write, and I hope I did the story justice.

I was invited to write the companion book to the CBC TV series “Hockey: A People’s History”, as well as the accompanying children’s book, “Ice Time: The Story of Hockey,” largely because of my previous hockey history, “Putting a Roof on Winter,” which some of the people planning the CBC series had read and liked.

I was inspired by the scope of the project, and the chance to tell as much of the story of this great sport as we could on both page and screen.
It's an epic tale that touches practically all of North America, and this would be the first time that I know of that the (largely North American) history of the game could be found under one cover, as it were.
It was an amazing experience for me, because I benefited so much from working with the TV people, who would send me their research and interviews with people and about places and teams that it would have taken me five years to compile.

2) Growing up, who was your favourite player, your favourite team?
I grew up in Vancouver, and despite having the Canucks to cheer for (or boo and hiss at, for the longest time), I loved the Montreal Canadiens.
I even made my own Montreal hockey sweater using a white sweat shirt and blue and red felt pens when my mother had committed the sin of buying me a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey sweater (yep, I was just like that kid in Roch Carrier's classic tale The Hockey Sweater, except he was in Quebec and I was in Vancouver).
I loved Guy Lafleur for his speed and skill and seemingly effortless ability to light up whatever goalie he was playing against.
The Canadiens of the 1970s defined hockey for me.

3) Now, who is your current favourite player and team?
My favourite player is Trevor Linden, and my favourite team is the Vancouver Canucks (I have a 2.5 year old daughter and she likes the Canucks, so I have to humour her).
I live in just had the pleasure of writing a profile on Linden for Vancouver Magazine, which you can find right here.
Linden is the kind of player who gives you everything he's got in every game he plays.
He's also a tireless worker off ice on behalf of kids with illnesses or who are in tough circumstances, and he does it all without calling any attention to himself.
He scored the winning goal in Vancouver's seventh-game first round playoff victory against Dallas, and he represents the best of that franchise.
He's a great role model to the young Canucks who are coming up, and I hope he signs another deal with the C's next season, as he's currently at the end of a one-year contract.

4) Is Atlanta GM Don Waddell to blame, especially after litteraly selling the farm to get Tkachuk and Zhitnik at the deadline?
I think GM's are under all kinds of quick fix pressures come the trading deadline (and to win the Cup, always), and so I wouldn't single out Don Waddell as being especially ruthless.
He gambled, and his acquisition of Tkachuk and Zhitnik helped Atlanta close out the season quite strongly and got them a playoff spot, because that too was in danger at the trading deadline.
However, Tkachuk bombed in the playoffs, and so did his team.
Waddell just lost his playoff bet; the Thrashers lost the playoff series.
He also gave up some draft picks, and this is the other part of the bet-- hindsight --if those traded picks turn into something.

5) Could Team USA make a serious run to win the upcoming World Hockey Championship? How do the other teams look heading into the event?
You know, I've so preoccupied with the end of the NHL season and the first round of the playoffs that I've paid little attention at all to the Worlds.
I do think that Canada has great goaltending in Cam Ward and Dwayne Roloson, and with a couple of Staal brothers in the line-up should go deep.
The USA has a lot of young guys in their lineup, and who knows-- they might come together as a contender.
It bodes well for the future of US hockey.

6) The Battle of California: the Ducks and Sharks are both very good hockey clubs, wouldn't it be interesting if they faced off and battled to make it to the Stanley Cup Final?
It would be a great series if the Ducks and Sharks met-- but big, tough San Jose has to get through skilled and savvy Detroit, and that's no small task.
Similarly, Anaheim, also a crash and bash team with some serious skill has to contend with the Canucks, who were shocked back into their A-game by Dallas.
The Canucks already had their playoff scare, and I think will play this series in a "nothing to lose" kind of way, and that will be dangerous for the Ducks.

7) Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa are the only Canadian teams to make the playoffs this year, should the NHL consider bringing new franchises north of the border as to attract more fans in a hockey-crazy Canadian market?
I'd love to see NHL franchises in Winnipeg, Quebec City, Halifax (where the game began), and one in Regina.
The NHL can't seriously say that the inclusion of these cities will harm their ability to get a lucrative TV deal in the USA. I mean, look at the TV deal they have now.
The addition of competitive teams in hockey crazy cities would only make the NHL look good, and attract more hockey fans, period.
The league should be looking for success in place where its already waiting for them.

8) Since we're talking about the playoffs, maybe you could share with us who was this Lord Stanley and how did his "Cup" become the most renowned and sought after trophy in all of sports?
Frederick Stanley (AKA Lord Stanley of Preston) was the Governor-General of Canada from 1888 to 1893.

He was an aristocrat, the younger son of the 14th Earl of Derby, who had also been Prime Minister of England. Stanley had been a Member of Parliament himself, as well as an army officer, but at heart he was a gregarious sportsman who loved the vast potential of the new world—and he loved hockey, when he saw his first game at the Montreal Winter Carnival of 1889.

Soon, Stanley’s sons Arthur and Algernon were playing the game on a team called the Rideau Rebels, after Rideau Hall, the Governor-General’s official residence in Ottawa.
His daughter Isobel played in the first recorded women’s hockey match in Ottawa 1891 (though she—and women –played well before that), and Stanley built himself a rink at Rideau Hall and was known to play as well—even on Sundays, which earned him some grief for blaspheming on the Sabbath.

Stanley owned shares in the Ottawa rink in which his favourite hockey team played, the Ottawa Hockey Club, and while he would have loved to see them win his “Dominion Challenge Trophy”, that was not why he gave the sport this extraordinary gift.

The idea of such a trophy had been around in Canadian journals and saloons from the early 1890s, and Stanley saw that hockey was indeed Canada’s “national winter sport”.
Stanley had traveled across Canada, and he saw a young country of huge size and sparse population that was a British dominion next door to much more populous and republican USA. He saw a challenge trophy as a way to express Canadian national identity and to unite a far-flung people through hockey by making it possible, for example, for a team from the Yukon to play a team from Ottawa (as happened in 1905) for what was soon known as the Stanley Cup.
Stanley also saw the widespread play of hockey as a way to keep young men of military service age in shape during the winter, since there were real fears that the US might try to expand its borders.

So the Stanley Cup has a rich history for its being, and a great irony at its core: Lord Stanley never saw a match played for his trophy because he went back to England on the death of his older brother in July 1893 to become the 16th Earl of Derby.
The first Stanley Cup was awarded a few months later.

To me, it’s the greatest sports trophy in the world not just because it’s the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, nor because you have to win sixteen games over a gruelling two month schedule to win it, but because what began as a nationalistic enterprise is now truly international—hockey players from all over the world can come together to compete for it and to win it, not as a nation, but as a team made up of different nationalities who for this season, prove it belongs to them.

9) In your opinion, what does the NHL need to do in order to draw more fans in a "light" American hockey market?
The NHL needs to change its nutbar schedule, so that we here in Vancouver see the Habs or the Leafs or Sidney Crosby more than once every three years. How can you get fans of any stripe excited here if they're seeing Edmonton or Minnesota for the eighth time in a season (and vice versa)? The NHL they want to build regional rivalries. Yes, well, having exciting players and famous teams come in will make the home side play hard, and rivalry will ensue-- if only for that game. Give us some variety. A lot of GM's feel the same way, but a few Eastern GM's are happy with the current schedule, because they can play in their own time zone for months on end, and life is easy. For instance, Martin Brodeur didn't play a game outside of the eastern time zone from November 27 to the end of the season. Sure, a couple of games were in Florida, but it makes a huge difference to the wear and tear on a team and their budget if they can travel to games by bus.

10) And finally, what do you think of my blog? Does it need more Michael McKinley content to spruce it up?
Your blog is great, and I'd be happy to contribute to it whenever you like.
If the Canucks go deep in the playoffs, I'll have lots more to say!

And that's it!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tidbit of mine, it goes along nicely with two other informative interviews the Ghost posted earlier today.

I wonder what's next from Michael?

Canadiens: The Story of the franchise from the Man whose mother bought him a Maple Leafs jersey.

Just kidding there!

Have a good one everyone!

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© 2007 Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

All Rights Reserved. The content of this blog is the sole opinion of these bloggers and does not represent an opinion of any kind of a professional NHL hockey team mentioned.