We hoped it was possible. The thought of the Pittsburgh Penguins playing playoff games but covering them from my couch wasn’t cool. That thought — after months of covering the team every single day and writing every day through the NHL shutdown — left a sick feeling. I love hockey as much as you do, and I love covering it more than anything I’ve ever done in my life.
I missed the 2016 Stanley Cup-clinching game in San Jose because of some political entanglements and the astronomical cost (above $800), but I didn’t miss a game in 2017. Not even Jim Colony’s snoring in Nashville could keep me away (Jim is an awesome guy. Snores like a freight train).
Sunday morning, a backchannel in the NHL office informed National Hockey Now the league is granting us one of the coveted credentials to cover the games in the NHL hub cities. Even as I type this story, I’m waiting for the official email and a secret password to cross the Canadian border.
I need to be where the action is, even if that means hanging from the catwalk in a straightjacket. I like to think PHN game breakdowns and consistent analysis are well beyond the daily offering of our competition. And, we do it matter of factly because hockey and bringing as much knowledge to the audience as we can is what matters to us.
Case in point — How the Penguins exploited Montreal this season.
I could cover the games from home, and ask the same questions via the zoom press conferences, but we need that view beyond the TV edges. We need the sound, the sense of momentum to really dissect the games and inform you, our readers.
I promise you — being there will give us much better stories. You don’t think I’m going all the way to Toronto, or even Edmonton, for a vacation? The PHN family will be away from home for two months or more. For me, that means no time with little Leo (my two-year-old grandson), living in a small hotel room, quarantining for two weeks, plus abiding by the Canadian health policies while I order Canadian pizza pizza (and wish it were at least as good as Little Caesars).
I’m willing to do it. If the players can do it, so can I.
So, if you want to help send the PHN crew and me to Toronto and Edmonton for possibly as long as TWO MONTHS, well, no, I won’t turn it down. We don’t use a tip jar, but you can help right here.
This is going to be ridiculously expensive. Believe me, I know how to live on a nickel, and I am quite good at spartan travel (I should show you pictures of my Ottawa motel 20 minutes from the barn, but in the middle of nowhere. The lounge had landscaping equipment parked inside and the remnants of a Chinese buffet). No money will be wasted on extras, and if for any reason I am turned away at the border, all money will be refunded.
Let’s see what happens, Penguins fans.
The puck is in your zone.