To Better Know a Blogger
With summer at its height and little hockey to follow, my attentions have turned to the strange creatures that populate the internet commentariat. The few, the proud, the fanatical, sports bloggers are an anthropologically interesting type, combining obsessive attention to minutiae with fanatical devotion to their subject matter.
But little is known about the faceless names that write so much. Are they mice or men, man or machine? Do they drink beer and party? Will they be benevolent overlords when the print media dies and they stage their inevitable coup? Just what kind of underwear do they sport when writing in their mothers basement?
To answer these questions and more, I have started a new regular series at A Winning Habit. Interviews with the best blogging names in Hab-istan.
Kevin van Steendelaar: Eyes on the Prize
The next subject of our series is Kevin van Steendelaar, Managing Editor for the SBNation site, “Eyes on the Prize” (HabsEyesOnThePrize.com). Kevin started out his blogging career as the man behind “Ya the Habs Rule” (http://yathehabsrule.blogspot.com). Kevin became a writer for EOTP under the old management of Robert Lefebvre and when Robert stepped down in October of 2010, Kevin step up to take management into his capable hands.
At EOTP, in addition to putting up regular everyday content on games, events and links to other sites, Kevin continues the site’s long tradition of historical articles on the Canadiens rich past. He also moderates active discussion, hosts a semi-regular podcast and manages the sites various writers. He also gave me my first writing gig in the blogosphere. Kevin acts as the calm and affable center of an very analytically focused writing staff that one might accuse of being heavy on statistics and light on the human element. Although normally a classy, friendly guy, Kevin can be impressive if provoked, as several have discovered this off-season on Twitter.
Even as the Habs have faltered in recent times, “Eyes on the Prize” has been having consistent success in recent times, with an expanding readership to go with an expanded staff and coverage.
Kevin is also a notable memorabilia hound, he’s even written for the Toronto Examiner on the subject, and is a member of SIHR (Society for International Hockey Research)
A Winning Habit: Hi Kevin. How did you get into blogging for the Habs?
It was just one of those things that just happened about 5 years ago, I guess. I actually started writing on Bleacher Report in it’s early years, before the days of slideshows and plagiarisms ruined it. From there I went out on my own and started Ya The Habs Rule. Before I knew it I was interviewing current and ex NHLers and HOFers and in a few media scrums, certainly something I never envisioned myself doing. Along the way I’ve made some great contacts in the media world, and ruffled a few feathers as well.
AWH: Tell us a bit about how you came to manage Eyes on the Prize?
Robert Lefebvre had talked to me about coming aboard, as a contributor, about 3 years ago. Robert liked that I kept the history of the team flowing and intertwined it with the present day club. Robert was unsure about carrying on the daily chore of the site, and at the time had just a couple regular contributors. I offered to step in and take it over. Francis Bouchard, Bruce Peter and Chris Boyle were already in place on the team and I invited Andrew Berkshire shortly after and later Stephan Cooper.
AWH: What goes into writing one of the EOTP’s signature history articles?
Much like what the advanced statsaholics at EOTP, and Chris’ goaltending assessments, a lot of research. Most of it comes from books and researching newspaper archives. Some pieces come easy, but I enjoy doing a little digging to see what was actually said on that specific day. It’s one thing to put an “on this day” post up, but I enjoy seeing if there’s a little quote or even something that relates to the present in there. I run into a few ex Habs, from time to time, and they are amazed that I can recount a story from a game they played in before I was even born! Francis Bouchard has been a big help in many of these. He has a huge catalogue of video clips in his personal library and often comes up with some great collaborations.
AWH: As the Managing Editor for EOTP you don’t just write for a website but also manage other writers. What have you learned about co-ordinating independent contributors towards a better total product as the one in charge?
It’s really an open forum with us. If the guys have something they want to put out, we give one another a heads up so we don’t post at the same time, or in some cases the same thing. LOL We’re always in communication via email/Skype/Twitter so things go rather smoothly.
AWH: Tell us about the SIHR.
The Society for International Hockey Research has been around for over 20 years. It’s a group writers, authors, historians, who are passionate about the history of the game. Many are focused on one are (origins of the game, the minor leagues, the WHA, etc.), while others take in everything. Regardless, if you can’t find something on the history of the game, someone there knows it.They gather twice a year for meetings, and a few surprise visitors pop in from time to time. The Prime Minister of Canada is even a member. Which reminds me, my membership dues need to be paid up.
AWH: How did you end up writing about memorabilia for the Toronto Examiner?
It was a brief period. They were looking to bolster their writing staff, and offered me the position. Once I took over EOTP, I had to withdraw.
AWH: What are your proudest about your time at EOTP, both personally and for the site itself?
Personally being asked to represent our parent site (SB Nation) at the Heritage Classic was a thrill. It gave me a great behind the scenes look at the NHL as well as the work that the beat media who cover the team do.
As for the site, the fact that many of us get acknowledged for our work by MSM is always great. Andrew has been on TSN Radio as well as Marek vs. Wyshinski, I do a Habs blogger panel on CJAD on occasion, and many of the guys have had their articles mentioned at hockeyinsideout.com, PuckDaddy, etc. and one of us was even approached by an NHL team. As a team effort, last year’s Top 25 Under 25 (Bruce’s baby) was a tremendous success in readership numbers for us.
AWH: I recall that there have been a number of written battles at EOTP between its denizens and visiting Leafs and Bruins fans. Do you have any good stories of those to relate?
While I do stay reserved, I do tend to shoot my mouth off, which can get me in trouble. A couple seasons ago I inadvertently blasted the wrong Boston radio duo, and they heard about it. Boy did that cause a storm between us and Bruins fans. I of course apologized for my error, but shockingly enough they didn’t except it as a simple misidentification. Surprised?
Leafs fans are just pests, but the old “1967” response doesn’t have much effect seeing the Habs haven’t won a Cup in 20 years.
AWH: What new things can we expect to see from EOTP in the upcoming season?
Andrew, our director of writer procurement LOL, recently found us a pair of guys who will be following the Hamilton Bulldogs for us, and also encouraged scouting specialist Chris Boucher to join the flock. We are working on maybe one more free agent before the season starts.
We’ll be adding a few more regular interactive features this season (if there is one) as well.