Monday, September 12, 2005

Q & A With Adam Proteau

Before I get to the Q & A, Micheal Ryder has signed a one year deal with Montreal, not sure on the financial amount. Adam Proteau is one of the best writers out there, and currently writes for The Hockey News. If you do subscribe to The Hockey News, you will notice he writes several articles each week, including a weekly Q & A of his own called two minutes in the box. Adam has been nice enough to answer a few of my questions, so here is the our Q & A Session with Adam Proteau.


Question: With all the new rules in the new NHL, which one do you think will have the most positive impact? Which will have the most negative impact?

Proteau: I've always been a big proponent of the shootout. Most Canadians willwant my citizenship revoked for saying that, but this game has to get rid ofties somehow, and the only practical solution is a shootout. Not to mention,whenever it's been used in minor league games, fans have loved it. I thinkthat fan satisfaction should be the only thing that matters for the leagueas it goes forward. That said, I know it's not a new rule, but unless the obstruction crackdownis lasting, none of the changes will matter a lick. Obstruction is the NHL's equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease -- difficult to get rid of, but definitely worth the effort.' As far as the most negative new aspect of the game, I can't believe the league didn't add no-touch icing to the mix. Especially now that goalie movement has been restricted, it's going to be even more of a race into the end boards for the puck. To me, that means it's only a matter of time until a young debunking in his prime loses his career over a severely broken ankle or neck. Owners want cost-certainty, but without the no-touch rule,there's no certainty their highest-paid employees will be around for any length of time.

Question: I received a lot of emails with questions involving how you became a sports writer. Many of our readers are aspiring journalists, and they would like to know how you got where you are.

Proteau: I got into journalism later than most people. After high school, attended the University of Toronto studying mostly criminology. At the sametime, I was doing improv comedy training at The Second City, and wound upmoving to New York City for a year to attend drama school. When I got backto Toronto, I auditioned for a couple of years, but other than a beercommercial and a couple other things, the well had run dry for me.

All the while, I was always writing. Eventually, it sunk in that I was getting more compliments on my writing than anything else I'd done. And i'd read at least two newspapers a day since I was about six years old, so it was an easy choice to decide to go back to j-school (Ryerson University) at the ripe old age of 26. I was about seven years older than anyone else in the class, but I was as focused as anyone.

While I was there, I tried to accumulate as much professional experience as possible, so I did a ton of volunteering. Started out interning at CFRB radio in Toronto, sticking microphones in front of Raptors, Leafs and Blue Jays and cutting tape back at the studio. As well, my first-year journalism professor lived down the street from Steve Dryden, then-editor of The Hockey News. He gave me my first true j-job, working as editor of The Hockey News Poolbook (for fantasy hockey enthusiasts.). Did that for a couple of years,and eventually helped on the weekly THN editions also.

Additionally, I started covering Raptors games for 680 News Radio. It was my first real on-air job, and I loved it. Plus, it was a time in the team's history when Vince Carter's name wasn't the equivalent of a curse word.

Kept that up for a couple years until I was done at Ryerson. As luck would've it, one of THN's editors was leaving to work at the Salt Lake City Olympics, so a job spot opened up. I snapped it up as quickly as I could,and started out as a copy editor. I then convinced my boss to change my title/duties to include writing, moving on to THN writer about a year ago.

How's that for a long and winding road? But I always tell aspiring journalists that, for as long as it took me to get here, I don't think I'd have experienced the same success without making all the pit stops along the. My drama/improv experience has helped with radio and TV work, and my vast and otherwise useless knowledge of pop culture has become crucial to we writing style.

Question: With so many UFA's on the market this season, which team(s) do you think have improved the most, and have turned into serious playoff contenders?

Proteau: Obviously, Pittsburgh has done a great job of rebuilding, and can thank the lottery ball process for that. But I also really like what Don Waddell has done in Atlanta. To me, they won the Heatley trade hands down: Hossa is unbelievable, while de Vries, though expensive in the new NHL, is really going to improve that defense. If Lehtonen is the real deal, I think they could do a lot of damage. As well, Mike Keenan added some veteran savvy(Nieuwendyk, Gratton, Roberts, Hill) to a team with some dynamic young players.

Question: You do a weekly column for The Hockey News called Two Minutes In The Box. This is where you interview a player, and find out more about them than just their on-ice stats. Do you have a favorite interview? Do any stand out more than others?

Proteau: It's funny you ask this question, as I just led off a column for the magazine by noting that this is one of the inquiries I get all the time. Forme, the enforcers are invariably the best. Peter Worrell was awesome, as was Steve McKenna and Jim McKenzie. I think that the higher-profile stars tend to guard their answers so as not to anger or otherwise upset anyone, whichcan make for brutally boring responses. Tough guys just don't seem to give adamn, and they've almost always got a great sense of humor. In that line of work, I suppose you have to.

Question: If the rosters were locked right now, and no movement allowed for the rest of the season, who would be at the top of each conference? Who wins the Stanley Cup?

Proteau: Most people love Philadelphia now, and it's hard to argue they won't be the ones to come out of the East. But I'm not so sure their mostly-veteran line up won't be affected by injuries, and Robert Esche isn't my idea of a proven playoff performer just yet. If Hasek and Belfour play well, I can see Ottawa and Toronto in the mix, as well as the Thrashers and the Lightning(if John Grahame/Sean Burke can get it done.)

In the West, I think Calgary is going to do well, but I'm not certain we'll see a repeat playoff performance from them this year. They kind of snuck upon teams in '03-04, and that won't be happening again.

I like Anaheim as much, if not more, than any other team. Brian Burke has worked wonders in a short time by bringing in Scott Niedermayer and a coach,Randy Carlyle, who I think is going to do well. With Fedorov, Selanne and Sykora up front, they could surprise a lot of people. If Giguere regains the form that abandoned him in '03-04, and their defense gets a tweaking along the way, I wouldn't at all be shocked to see them in the Cup final.

Cup winner? Aw hell, let's try the Sens. But whatever you do, don't hold me to it.


Thank you very much to Adam Proteau for doing that for us, when doing a Q & A I never expect much in the form of answers because obviously these people have very busy lives. For Adam to take that much time, and answer the questions as well as he did, we really appreciate it. More Q & A's coming in the next week or so. Stay Tuned...