Are you ready for an entertaining, informative and wild hockey ride?
Welcome to the “Pucks With Haggs” page on Bulletin where yours truly will be regularly posting analysis, feature stories, columns and my own unfiltered thoughts on the NHL beat that I’ve lovingly covered for nearly two decades. We’ll focus on the National Hockey League, of course, but there will also be occasional veering out to all levels of hockey from a humble hockey writer that’s also a hockey dad, a USA Hockey certified coach and somebody that’s deeply cared about the beautiful game for a long, long time.
It’s thrilling to be able to give hockey fans my candid takes on national stories that dominate the headlines in the hockey world, or to occasionally bring my loyal followers the inside access that comes with having covered the NHL for almost 20 years.
The plan is to have exclusive videos and podcasts for loyal followers as we roll things out and to communicate with you, the readers, as much as I can throughout the season. I won’t be shy in the comments section or when doing Facebook Live videos where I can answer your burning questions throughout the season. Social media has brought an interactive element to sports media coverage that’s both valued and essential in this humble hockey writer’s opinion.
What you won’t get is a lot of tired cliches, dull-as-dishwater fancy stats or analytics talk or happy, shiny hockey nonsense that only approaches a surface understanding of hockey and its wonderfully colorful personalities. What you will get is an insider’s look at trade news, NHL trends and exactly what the players, personnel and movers/shakers are thinking and doing around the National Hockey League at any given moment.
That’s the truly interesting stuff rather than simply posting bar graphs as an explanation for a player’s dominance on the ice, right?
A little bit about me if you aren’t familiar with my work in the hockey world.
I began covering the NHL on the Boston Bruins beat back in 2003-04 and have covered the league every year since while adapting to a changing sports journalism landscape where I’ve traveled from the Woburn Daily Times to the Boston Metro, WEEI.com, NBC Sports Boston and my current spot covering the Black and Gold for the Boston Hockey Now website.
My first season covering the NHL was also then-18-year-old Patrice Bergeron’s first season in the NHL as a shy, reserved Quebec kid with peach fuzz that was still a little unsure of his English skills. He was the youngest player in the NHL during that 2003-04 season, but you could see his unmistakable potential for greatness even back then.
To put it in perspective, it was still a time when legends like Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman, Mike Modano, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, Dominik Hasek and Scott Stevens were still playing in the league.
I’ve covered four Stanley Cup Finals, countless NHL All-Star games, more than a dozen NHL Drafts, three Winter Classics and have even whisked away to Europe to cover NHL games played on a different continent.
I’ve watched Czech Hockey league games in Pardubice and witnessed an NHL team play the Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland. I saw Milan Lucic get his number retired by the Vancouver Giants prior to a rock ‘em, sock ‘em Western Hockey League game at the old Pacific Coliseum home of the Canucks.
And I’ve been to every rink on the NHL circuit at least a couple of times while having seen, heard and experienced enough hockey that it’s easy to admit TimBits are superior to anything my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts has ever produced.
And if you don’t know what TimBits are then you haven’t truly experienced Canada in all its glazed glory.
I’ll always tell you the unvarnished truth both good and bad about the NHL. I’m not going to pull any punches when it comes to criticism when warranted, but I’ll also always dole out ample credit where it’s due for a sport that’s grown tremendously over the last 20 years.
I’m an unabashed believer that dropping the gloves and fighting still very much has a place in the NHL, and that spontaneous on-ice violence will always be a part of an intense contact sport where there’s nowhere to hide on the ice.
Some might call that a Neanderthal viewpoint of the modern NHL game, but so be it. Hockey fights are something that viscerally separates the NHL from the other major pro sports, and that isn’t something the league should ever run away from when it’s done in an organic, professional way.
There’s also no denying the greatness of Connor McDavid’s breathtaking speed, David Pastrnak’s lethal one-timer, Patrick Kane’s ability to perform magic tricks with his stick and 44-year-old Zdeno Chara ability to still break the sound barrier with his mighty 108-mph slap shot. They call it the beautiful game for a reason and it’s not due to the admittedly awesome Jack-O-Lantern hockey smiles that grace every NHL dressing room.
We’ll bring it all to you here several times a week with written hockey content, videos, podcasts and anything else we can do to overserve the diehard hockey fans out there. Just remember to give “Pucks with Haggs” a follow and we’ll take care of the rest as we return to packed hockey arenas, enhanced media access and a glorious return to the normalcy we all know, love and crave when it comes to our sport of hockey.
Welcome to Pucks with Haggs. We hope you’ll like it here.