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Why Am I Here?

All the cool kids have been doing this lately, and since I'm unable to number-crunch until later in the week, I thought I'd take this opportunity to respond to the questionairre posted by the gang over at Interchangeable Parts:

1. What was your motivation for starting blogging? Has that changed at all in the time you’ve been blogging?
At first, it was just an opportunity to exercise some creative urges and participate in the broader discussion of hockey online; as a father of three little folks, it's not like I can sit at the barstool like Norm and chat about the game on a regular basis. Once I got bitten by the stats bug, it's been more of a quest to see how we might increase our understanding of the game and unearth unexpected, yet useful, knowledge.

2. What do you think your blog contributes to the hockey conversation?
I try to bring two things in general; first, to point out areas that might represent new facts about the game (such as a strategy to use when selecting shooters for the shootout), and second, an informed analysis following the Nashville Predators, a grossly underreported and misunderstood franchise.

3. What do you want to get out of the blogs you read?
What the best blogs provide is a sense of background, a familiarity with the NHL and perhaps a specific team that provides depth and perspective to whatever's being written about. Whether reflected in the smug arrogance of some of the Red Wings bloggers, or the hopeful patience of those covering the Coyotes or Blue Jackets, blogs can provide a "history on the fly" for their teams, and in that sense tell the reader so much more than merely what happened in the latest game or who deserves to get promoted to the top line.

4. What determines which blogs you read and which you don’t?
Quality of writing, plain and simple. Far too many bloggers think that being edgy by liberally tossing expletives around makes them sound clever and witty, but for me that's a huge turnoff. One particular pet peeve is when a blog resorts to homophobic insults; they're simply moronic, and are part of the culture that kept guys like Sheldon Kennedy quiet while they were being abused.

5. How important is the issue of gaining press access to you as a blogger?
Not at all right now. I'd have to really work at defining what press access would allow me to do that I don't already do today. I had press access a long time ago as an ur-blogger (covering the McCarty/Lemieux brawl and the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals), and found myself merely aping the newspaper guys, rather than bringing something new. The possibilities are there, but it's not a priority of mine right now.

6. To what extent do you feel accountable for the content of your blog? How concerned do you think readers should be about the authority and accountability of your blog?
The nice thing about blogging is that people do pay attention to what's written, and don't hesitate at all to call things out. I've made mistakes in the past when presenting certain data, and readers were quick to fire me an email or comment, after which I'd post the correction and credit them. Since I don't claim to have any inside information and merely aggregate and analyze publicly available info, everything I do on the stats side is verifiable. In some instance, I've even posted spreadsheets at Google so people can just work with the data themselves, as with the 2007-8 NHL Schedule and the Penalty Plus/Minus data.

7. How concerned are you about the authority and accountability of the blogs you read? Do you find it difficult to judge the authority and accountability of the blogs you read?
I guess this question breaks down into three areas for me; as regards statistical analysis, as long as bloggers are clear about the data they're using and their methods, their work can be verified. For general commentary, I don't worry so much about authority or accountability, since we're talking about opinions. When it comes to rumors, I just don't follow them much. I prefer Spector's approach of bringing together published reports, avoiding the rumor-spinning that so many despise Eklund for.

8. What value, if any, do you think blogging brings to the NHL?
First, I think blogs provide the fodder for turning a casual NHL fan into an informed, diehard fan; the level of discussion is generally much deeper than what is seen in traditional media, and especially with some of the divisional or rivalry blogs, fosters rivalries between fans in different cities.

Secondly, I truly believe that some of the statistical work being done on various sites will find its way into the operating environment of the NHL. Whether applied to Salary Arbitration, in-game strategy, player development, or personnel decision-making, there are plenty of low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked for teams willing to push the envelope. After all, just like any competitive multi-million dollar business, Research & Development should be a critical part of how a team continually improves their performance. It's really no different than UPS figuring out a way to route their trucks to avoid the delays associated with left-hand turns. NHL teams should constantly be looking at ways to improve every aspect of their operation.

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