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An Interview With John Buccigross of ESPN and #bucciovertimechallenge

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If you follow hockey at all, or even just sports in general, you know who John Buccigross is. “Bucci” is perhaps the face of American Hockey Journalism; an ESPN Anchor, columnist, and show host who is most famous for his coverage of the NHL, college hockey, and inventing the twitter hashtag/online craze, #bucciovertimechallenge . I reached out to John at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to try to get him to call into a podcast and get some thoughts on the Rangers chances and the series in general. We couldn’t make that work due to some logistical stuff, but he was nice enough to grant us an interview via email.

 

I know interviews like this aren’t exactly what Barstool “does” most of the time, and it’s a bit on the longer side, but anyone who has an interest in hockey or sports media should find this interesting. Thanks again to John for granting me this interview. Everyone should follow him on twitter @Buccigross and visit his website at bucciovertimechallenge.com. You can find me on twitter at @CharlieWisco.

Also shoutout to Chief from Barstool Chicago (@BarstoolChief) for helping out edit the questions.

 

You’re one of Sportscenters most high-profile personalities, and being a hockey fan is a huge part of that. When did you feel that being “the hockey guy” became part of your persona? Was that be design or or public perception?

I’ve never wanted to be “the hockey guy.” I hosted a nightly hockey show from 1998-2004, written a hockey column on ESPN.Com since 2001, and am now doing college hockey play-by-play so I understand my alliance with hockey. “The Hockey Guy” makes it sound like hockey is a freak sport to me as oppossed to me being one of the few people here that live the sport. That could me my fault. I’ve done golf play by play and hosted lots of Baseball Tonight’s, and thousands of Sportscenters. I believe hockey belongs in the conversation with every sport.

When did you start to feel yourself get “cult-hero” status amongst hockey fans?

I do not feel I have a “cult-hero” status amongst hockey fans. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been at ESPN for 18 years and provided lots of hockey content across all of our platforms. My column, which was launched in 2001, probably is what gave me my voice. I was a little ahead of the internet curve. I was one of the first to put my email address at the end of my column and interact openly and freely with the readers. That gave me a connection. Twitter also has that same element. I am very grateful and respectful of hockey fans and I think they sense that. I don’t write or create for other hockey writers or for players. I write an create and broadcast for hockey fans. Above all, ESPN gives me a great platform to preach hockey from. I’m nothing without ESPN. The College Hockey void was also there for the taking. Most media entities ignored it or disrespected it. I’m trying to give it the respect it deserves and that has been rewarding. Being the voice of the Frozen Four is the hightlight of the year for me. And I hope we do regular season games again as we did this year. From covering the NHL since 1998, to writing a lot about youth hockey, backyard rink hockey and now college, I love covering the entire aspects of hockey, not just one team or league.

Hockey is the smallest of the Big Four North American Sports. Some argue the disparity is getting better, some say worse. What in your opinion has kept hockey as a niche sport instead of getting total mainstream acceptance? Also, what, if anything, should the NHL do to change this?

No way is hockey’s disparity getting bigger. I think it has a brighter future than baseball in this century.  What the NHL has done poorly is capitalize on the popularity and excitement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are games on Financial Networks and I think it’s undervauled. More could be done to take advantage of the popular opinion that there is nothing like the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Some people criticize how hockey is covered by the company you work for, ESPN. Do you find any of these criticisms valid? If you were King of Bristol, would you change the nature of how hockey is covered at ESPN?

I would certainly show more highlights, but we do a pretty strong job with Barry Melrose throughout the season. If we sell it, our producers will listen. ESPN.Com has comprehensive coverage throughout the year. I’d like it to be more but I understand the popularity of the NFL, NBA and college sports is really strong in the U.S.

Sports coverage has recently changed. While a handful of media outlets, mostly ESPN and the major newspapers/radio stations, used to monopolize sports media, independent and semi-independent blogs are starting to play a bigger and bigger role in how sports are covered. Do you think this is ultimately a good thing for sports journalism?

I think the majority of sports fans still get their sports content from large entities: ESPN, Yahoo, Large Newspaper websites, TSN for hockey fans, ect.  Also, league websites, like NHL.Com are very good. I think there has been good variety for awhile now. Like I said before, when my column launched there was a big space of pop culture and fun that was available. Today, the competition and snark is widespread and readily available so it’s not quite the wild west that it was 10-13 years ago. The more voices the better as long as they are informed and entertaining.

Unlike us at Barstool, you have insider access to the NHL. Do you smell any blockbuster free agent moves/potential trades this offseason or anything that could surprise us? Maybe something with Stastny, Ryan Miller, Callahan, San Jose rumors, ect.?

It will be a very busy and interesting offseason. There are a handful of teams that are clearly better than the rest and by a good margin. For a hard salary cap league that puts jobs on the line. “Why aren’t we that good?” I think we will see bold, creative moves.

You’ve advocated for expansion in hockey before. Personally, I am of the opinion that less teams with more concentrated talent and the best fanbases is the way to go. Do you feel now is the time for expansion in the NHL? If so, why, and what cities do you think are most deserving of teams or even perhaps second teams?

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The more teams there are the more hockey fans there will be. Seattle will get a team. Quebec City would be a successful team. It’s all about the playoffs anyway. I would have a double header play-in game for seeds 8 and 9 as a way to kick off the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Your twitter bio says “A butt dial is not the same as a booty call”.  Have you ever successfully converted a butt dial into a booty call? If so, can you give me any tips on how to do this?

No comment

Is unfollowing me on twitter your biggest career mistake thus far? And is doing it on my birthday the cruelest thing you have ever done in your life?

You swear a lot. While unintentional, that probably is the cruelest thing I’ve done. I’m a rather nice fellow.

Anything you want to plug/promote? Where should people go to read/support you?

www.bucciovertimechallenge.com. Buy stuff. I give lots of money to hockey charity/fundraising efforts.  I might write a book and put it on the website for the fall.

Want to see more blogs of this nature? Something else? Follow me on twitter @CharlieWisco or email me at CharlieWisco@AOL.com and I will read any and all suggestions.