Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interview w/ ESPN's John Buccigross

Hockey seemed to finally arrive on the national scene in the late 90s when ESPN launched their nightly 30 minute show NHL2Night. Hosting the show was a self proclaimed music nut, John Buccigross, whose love for the sport spilled out through the screen. He wasn't just reading lines off the teleprompter, this guy had the fever that so many of us share. Fast forward a decade or so and he's been caught in the cross hairs of Kings fans recently. First retracting his prediction of the Kings making the playoffs this year and later proclaiming to the world that Frolov had indeed been traded. What's going on?

MayorsManor had a chance to catch up with Buccigross and get some answers...and some other hockey insight...

Let's get right to it - earlier this summer while hosting the Kings HockeyFest in downtown, you said this was the year the Kings would return to the playoffs. Then, more recently, in your ESPN.com article Breaking Down the Western Conference you said "after studying things a little more, I have them outside the top eight." Why the change of heart?

I simply think there are 8 teams who are better and question they will prevent enough goals to be a playoff team. Unless they make a big trade, I don't think they are quite ready yet.

Kings fans are obviously excited about the young players on the team, guys like Anze Kopitar. There is also a feeling of an east coast bias in the media when guys like Drew Doughty hardly get noticed for Calder consideration. In your opinion, who is the most underrated player in the league today?

Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings is real good. A #1 defenceman on most teams. He's physical and good on the power play.

Although you grew up playing basketball, golf and baseball in high school, you've obviously been following hockey for a long time. What is the greatest game you've ever seen?
Ray Bourque's Game 7 Stanley Cup clincher was a memorable one.
NOTE: Funny Bourque follow-up story, in a 2006 column Buccigross said he "once played golf with Ray Bourque and tried to intentionally three putt from 30 feet so I could say I shot a 77 playing golf with Ray Bourque. Instead, the slippery downhill putt went in and I shot a 75 not playing golf with Brett Lindros."
Over the last decade of so many of the older, traditional buildings have given way to new arenas. Of the 30 buildings currently hosting NHL games, do you have a favorite place to watch hockey?

Well...it would be hard to pick just one. Columbus, Minnesota and Toronto are the best I've been to.

During the lockout year a few rule changes were put in place to improve the game. As a fan, if you could change one rule in hockey, what would it be?

I'd implement a ten minute 4 on 4 overtime.

Interesting. I'm not sure if making the games longer is something the league would go for, yet I'm all for more puck! How about the jerseys. One of the few areas where hockey gets credit over the other big sports is on the fashion front. There are certainly some great jerseys in the league, but a few of them are embarrassing. If you could change one team's jersey, which team would you target?

Columbus' is terrible. A simple "C" would be cool at home. Maybe a diagonal Columbus on the roadies.

Probably not the team I would have gone after. However, given that you went to college in Ohio, I can see you working it. Let's move on. How about some word association? We haven't done that yet on MayorsManor. You want to give it a go?

Sure

OK, how about the teams in the Western Conference:

Anaheim Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf's hands
Calgary Flames - Jay Bouwmeester's feet
Chicago Blackhawks - Patrick Kane's feet and hands
Colorado Avalanche - Matt Duchene is for real, yo
Columbus Blue Jackets - Playoffs?!?!?! You bet.
Dallas Stars - In transition
Detroit Red Wings - Their Central Division streak ends
Edmonton Oilers - Fast but still disjointed
Los Angeles Kings - Coming together. Should be in the hunt.
Minnesota Wild - New look Wild now are a little run and gun.
Nashville Predators - Barry Trotz might coach this team for 50 years.
Phoenix Coyotes - Boring, defensive
San Jose Sharks - Heatley will score 60
St Louis Blues - Very high expectations. Simmer.
Vancouver Canucks - They will be fine.

Still working the Columbus angle, huh? No, seriously - thanks for stopping by John. We appreciate your time.

In the future we'll try and get into some of his musical favorites, like R.E.M. and Run DMC. Once upon a time, in a different interview, he said "Music has always been a big part of my life, maybe even bigger than sports, because music has never let me down."

Although they've done it plenty of times in the last 20 years, Kings fans are counting on the team to not let them down this year. LA needs to make the playoffs and remind Buccigross you should always go with your first instincts.

Its like that...and thats the way it is.

The Mayor
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RELATED ARTICLES

High / Low with John Buccigross of ESPN - get his takes on the opening of the 2009-10 season

Interview with Kelly Hrudey - former Kings goalie, now a commentator on TSN

Interview with Luc Robitaille - sit down with #20 a few days before his Hall of Fame induction

Interview with Mike Modano - arguably the greatest American born hockey player of all-time

Interview with Bob Miller - legendary voice of the Kings talks favorite players, games, moments, etc.

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photo courtesy of ESPN.com

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