I’ll start with this: there are a lot of you for whom this is commonly-known material, and you can skip this article. For you, here is a picture of a dog with a hockey stick.
But since Seattle-ites haven’t had a taste of NHL hockey since many decades before this here series of tubes was unleashed on the public, there’s a lot of material you can dive into over the next two years to get up to speed before the puck drops.
We’re going to divide this up into categories: websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, and podcasts. You will quickly find that there is a wealth of crossover — websites have social media accounts, blogs have podcasts, etc. Plus, one way to expand your reach is to look at which accounts the insiders follow, or what blogs or podcasts they do guest appearances on. Before you’re done connecting yourself to the Interwebs of NHL hockey, you’ll realize you’ve missed several days of work.
CapFriendly.com I still run into people online who are knowledgeable about the game, the league, and the internet landscape who don’t know about this site. I am on CapFriendly no fewer than a half-dozen times a day under normal circumstances, and if it’s either the trade deadline or the start of free agency I just bring up the site and pound the F5 key obsessively. It has information and statistics about every team, player, and executive, past and present, including salaries, clauses, trades, signings, terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and explanations of nearly anything to do with the business of hockey in the salary cap era. It’s updated faster than most of the mainstream media sites, and the data stretches back decades. I consider it the #1 resource on the web for NHL fans, full stop.
TSN.ca This is essentially Canada’s version of ESPN, with one primary difference. Instead of hockey being buried beneath football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, golf, soccer, tennis, swimming, diving, track, and drone racing, on TSN the NHL is #1 every day of the year. Their writers are some of the best in the business — names you’ll recognize from Hockey Night in Canada, NHL on NBC, and the NHL Network — and you’ll get legitimate, verified news from the teams around the league as fast as it’s available.
The Hockey News. This is widely considered a blog, but the fact that it keeps stats and standings up to date puts it more into the website category. THN’s bread and butter is feature-length pieces on prominent news items, and more in-depth investigative pieces. Before the internet The Hockey News was the premiere magazine/newspaper in the world of hockey, available at most pro shops and hockey-centric sporting goods stores. This is their online version, and you can still subscribe to get their hard copy edition delivered right to your mailbox.
The Players Tribune. Direct from the mouths of the players themselves, The Players Tribune features articles and videos about a variety of mostly off-the-ice topics. At the time of this writing the entries shown as “most recent” are from Braden Holtby, Seth Jones, James Van Riemsdyk, Max Pacioretty, and John Tavares — definitely not second-rate contributors. Of note are the entries from former NHL enforcer Daniel Carcillo, who is documenting his fight with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. It’s not limited to hockey either, so fans of any sport can check out pieces from their favorite athletes.
Kukla’s Korner. This is essentially a real-time news blog, primarily posting events from around the league, re-posts of other articles on their own network of blogs, plus articles from other news sources when needed. Not fancy, but quick and it generally stays away from a lot of wild speculation and predictions. You’ll quickly find out that the ratio of bullshit to fact in the world of hockey blogging is easily 20 to 1, especially in the off-season. You can click the “Blogs” link from the main menu to see the other Kukla-affiliated sites that post about various NHL teams or topics.
The Hockey Writers. This is the main site for a network of individual NHL team blogs, but until we get a team the home page still has a lot of useful content. Much more user-friendly than Kukla — lots of spiffy pictures and graphics — however your BS detector needs to be turned on before using, to a degree with the individual team sites, and absolutely with the “NHL Rumors” page. But still, there’s some good stuff.
Pro tip: these accounts are frequent targets of pranksters who create accounts with names nearly identical to the real thing. They then post fake news and trades and cause all measure of havoc, especially at the trade deadline. Be smart — look for the “Verified” check mark next to all of the names on this list.
The TSN Half-Dozen. Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, James Duthie, Craig Button, and Ray Ferraro. During the season you’re going to get 90% of your (verified, actual) information from these six guys. TSN has also conveniently assembled a list that you can follow including these six, plus six more from their Twitter roster.
Elliotte Friedman. As knowledgeable and connected as the six above, plus sometimes gets the jump on all of them with breaking news. This name will come up in our Podcasts section below as well.
Roberto Luongo. For quite a while this account was a mystery to NHL fans. Who is this guy? Where is he getting his information? How does he know this stuff? Then, as I think the story goes, one of his teammates at the time outed him by accident, and the secret was revealed. As you probably know, this Olympic gold medalist and 19-year NHL veteran goalie recently retired, but the account continues — as does the self-deprecating humor he has always been famous for.
Gritty. Love him or hate him, the newly-christened Philadelphia Flyers mascot has taken the league by storm. His Twitter account is mostly spoofs and off-ice antics, but is good for a laugh.
NHL. As much as I hate to admit it, the NHL video production department really does a first-rate job. Watching highlights from any game in the country during the season is a snap. Put two team names into the search bar along with the phrase “condensed game”, and there’s the video with all the highlights. Even in the off-season they’re putting up at least one video per day with best-of, top-ten, interviews, and other stuff to keep viewers’ interest. And because they own the broadcast rights from every game ever played, their stuff is always crystal clear and direct from the source. Definitely your first stop.
SportsNet.ca SportsNet is more or less TSN Jr., and you’ll find a lot of good stuff here. The channel is for all sports, so right now you’re going to see a lot of baseball and (following the Raptors’ championship victory) basketball. But starting in September, for the most part it will be mountains of content surrounding NHL hockey. Lots of good playlists, I’d start there. This is also the video home of a hockey pundit by the name of Steve Dangle, who you will either love or detest with every fiber of your being. I will reserve comment.
The Hockey Guy. Down the road a stretch from Vancouver in unassuming Abbotsford, British Columbia is a regular guy with probably over 200 NHL jerseys, some pretty solid contacts around the league, and his own YouTube channel. He simply goes by “The Hockey Guy”, and he puts up at least 3 new videos a day talking about everything from league news, to team gossip, to trade speculation, to you name it. At 112,500 subscribers as of this writing (log in yourself and watch the numbers change), it’s not a stretch to say that among the amateur video bloggers covering the NHL he is easily the most popular and prolific. Good content; quick, succinct videos; plus live streaming on special days like the trade deadline and the start of free agency.
Droppin’ The Gloves. This one is relatively new, but I expect you’ll enjoy the content. The host is John Scott, former pro hockey enforcer and (surprise) NHL All-Star. He’s tremendously well-spoken, a very frank storyteller, and with the career he had there are plenty more stories to tell. There are 11 episodes up as of today, mostly ranging from 15 – 20 minutes, hopefully with more to come as hockey season gets underway. Worth checking out.
I’m not linking to these, because everyone is going to get their podcasts from different sources, and not all are available from every service.
31 Thoughts. Every week SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman posts an article called “31 Thoughts”, holding forth on events around the league. That article becomes the basis for a podcast of the same name, hosted by Friedman and fellow SportsNet pundit Jeff Marek. Very popular and frequently cited, this is your starting point for NHL podcasts. They’re in “summer mode” right now, so there will be some pre-recorded episodes of previous interviews. But come September they’ll be rockin’ and rollin’ again.
TSN Hockey Bobcast. You have likely seen Bob McKenzie on Hockey Night in Canada or doing drop-ins on the NHL on NBC broadcasts. If you’re north of the border you can see him pretty much every day on TSN during the season. He’s the ultimate insider, and has been for more than 35 years in his roles with The Hockey News, the Toronto Star, TSN, and most recently NBCSN in the United States. His podcast is an extended and uncensored (Bob says ‘bullshit’!) version of his news reports from his TV appearances, but that turns out to be more boring than you expect. It’s rather dry, not a lot of entertainment value, just the facts.
I have included the Bobcast here since any NHL podcast list would be incomplete without it, but at this time its future is in doubt. There are 3 seasons available for you to listen to, but that may be it. The decision about whether the Bobcast continues into season 4 will not be made until the fall.
Puck Soup. This one is more of a bar-room round-table after a couple of Labbatts. It’s hosted by NHL pundit/mavens Greg Wyshynski from ESPN; Sean McIndoe of The Athletic, known to many by his internet alter-ego “Down Goes Brown”; and Ryan Lambert of Yahoo! Sports. It’s mostly discussion and opinions on the news from around the league, and they’re not afraid to speak their minds — or gang up on one of the other hosts. Intelligent discourse, plenty of chirping, and the gloves come off every once in a while.
Spittin’ Chiclets. This is ABSOLUTELY NOT for those with delicate sensibilities. The hosts are former NHL players Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette (“BizNasty2point0” if you follow him on twitter), plus a loud mouth from BAAAH-sten calling himself the Rear Admiral. They have plenty of marquee guests, lots of current and former NHL players, and the content of the interviews is generally pretty good. But you have to wade through a cesspool of profanity-laden locker room stories — food, golf, binge drinking, puck bunnies, strip joints, and the list goes decidedly downhill from there. You’ll learn some new words, that’s for sure! Rated M for Mature.