Q&A with Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News
1. On the most recent episode of The Hockey News Podcast, fans learned you grew up playing in punk-rock bands, noting that you once traveled as far as Chicago to play at the Fireside Bowl. Talk about growing up playing music, the different bands you were in, and your experience playing in Chicago.
I started playing drums in a band when I was in Grade 6 with my two best friends, but really got into the hardcore punk scene when I was 15. The main band I was in was called Eliot Rosewater and we straddled the indie and hardcore scenes, playing shows in both worlds. I was also in a band called The Tet Offensive, which started once Eliot Rosewater was done. I played guitar and screamed in that one. We played in Chicago thanks to our friends from My Lai, whom we had played with before. It was us and another Mississauga band, Blake, and we spent the day wandering around the city. It was pretty fun for a bunch of teenagers. Once I moved to Toronto for university, I went back to drums and played in a couple bands that played shows but didn’t really do much else.
2. Everybody knows touring isn’t easy on musicians. What kind of stories and memories did you make on the road?
I don’t have any crazy tour stories because we never played more than a couple shows at a time, but I did watch Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” for the first time while on tour and it’s been my favorite movie ever since.
3. For gear nerds out there, what kind of drum equipment did you play?
RK: My gear was pretty much all second-hand, but I did have Sabian cymbals
4. One of your titles at The Hockey News is prospect expert. Are there any up and coming bands that you’re listening to now that fans should check out? And do you make any music recommendations to your Hockey News colleagues?
RK: I’m out of touch on the music side, so I hear about things late now. Sometimes if a fellow staffer is in my car, I’ll torture them with grindcore, ha ha! My musical tastes are a bit of a running joke in the office.
5. What was your transition like from music to hockey journalism, and when did it feel like you could make a career out of it?
I went to school for journalism and did some music writing early on, but I recently realized that my love for obscure bands and the fun of learning about players before they become stars were very similar – I’ve kinda replaced one obsession with another. I first started at The Hockey News during the 2004 lockout and that was my first truly stable job – before that I freelanced or worked on one-year contracts. So that was when I realized I was probably on the right track.
6. What’s your advice to young aspiring sports journalists in a media industry that is in a transitional phase?
RK: Content is always the most important part of the job, so make yours the best possible. The delivery vessel might change, but people want good info and good stories. Being niche helps, too. For me, it’s prospects. For others, it’s advanced stats or international hockey. Ask yourself: why should people read MY stuff?
7. Lastly, what is your take on the Chicago Blackhawks next season and do you think Alex DeBrincat is ready to contribute at the pro level?
RK: I’m a little worried about Chicago’s back end, but they’re too talented not to at least make the playoffs again. I’m pretty high on Alex DeBrincat and if he’s put in the right scoring role, he could do damage right away – maybe even angle for the Calder Trophy.