20ish Questions With Greg Wyshynski Puck Daddy

July 25th, 2015 | by torontosportsmedia
20ish Questions With Greg Wyshynski Puck Daddy
sports and toronto


Sorry for the delay folks, but I think you will agree it was well worth the wait!!!

Here are some of mine and some of your questions for Greg Wyshynski:

TSM: How did you get your start and why hockey?

GW: The journalism bug bit me while writing for my student newspaper in high school, where I was the sports editor and an entertainment writer. Those first few times when someone says they appreciate what you’ve written, and when you affect change by speaking truth to power – such as it was in high school – are like a narcotic.

I still remember getting pulled out of history class by a girls varsity basketball coach who admonished me in the hallway over something I had written, quoting two of her players about the chemistry of the team. Her reaction was akin to my having broken a PED scandal on the team or something. After she was done frothing, she asked me if I had anything to say, I remember looking at her and saying, “Yeah, you need to do a better job managing your players.” And then I remember going back to class, literally shaking from the confrontation, but ultimately knowing I was in the right. It was scary and exhilarating.

I graduated from the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, did some public relations work, decided I didn’t like coming home with the smell of BS on my breath, hooked up with The Connection Newspapers of Northern Virginia in 1999 and spent nearly a decade there, eventually leaving as the executive sports editor.

While with the paper, I started writing hockey on the side for any publication that would take it, working on my voice and style. Eventually, AOL Sports took notice and I was one of the lead bloggers on the hockey side in a group that included James Mirtle. I wrote a daily hockey column at Deadspin under Will Leitch for a season, and then Jamie Mottram, the current USA Today guru who hired me at AOL, brought me on at Yahoo Sports and we created Puck Daddy in 2008. Soon after, Sean Leahy came aboard, and we’ve run the show together ever since.

Why hockey? It was my passion, from growing up as a fan and reading the hockey coverage in the NY papers my dad would bring home from work to spending hours arguing about it in newsgroups during college. It was that latter experience that really was the spark for my hockey writing: the arguments, the battle lines, the snark. It was just the most fun I had writing about anything, and it helped that I realized rather quickly that I had something to say about it.

TSM: Did you ever play hockey?

GW: I’m a terrible skater. Atrocious. So combine that with being a uncoordinated fat kid whose friend group in New Jersey growing up wasn’t hockey-centric, and I just never got into playing it competitively on the ice. I played a ton of street hockey and floor hockey growing up. Oh, and of course, Nintendo “Ice Hockey.” (Skinny, Medium, Fat, Fat.)
I will say that not being a master of your subject is sometimes beneficial, because it forces you to ask as many questions of your sources as possible. Which is what I did for my book coming out this fall called “Take Your Eye Off The Puck” (Triumph Books), a really fun project that covers every aspect of the game on and off the ice.

TSM: Favorite team /player growing up?:

GW: New Jersey Devils. Latched onto the local team growing up and never let go. I converted my dad, too, as he was an Islanders fan when I was a kid.

I get asked a lot about balancing my fandom – I still buy tickets to games, every season – and my coverage of the NHL. It’s not always been easy, but in the end I hope that (a) the work is what gets judged, away from knowing where my loyalties are and (b) that being a fan means I cover the Devils with a sense of history and perhaps more of a critical eye than most.

I’d never want to give up than fandom. I think it’s important for hockey writers to understand why this stuff matters. Why a team losing a Game 7 to their arch rivals, or winning their first Cup, can bring people tears. (Although so can paying $300 to watch them lose to Arizona.)

Favorite player was Claude Lemieux, who was a next-level pest. Could piss you off with his mouth, stick, turtling and then by scoring the game-winning goal. What a heel.

TSM: Favourite road city/thing to do on the road?

GW: My favorite thing to do on the road is eat, unfortunately, because it’s not as if I’m really making time for the gym all that often during the playoffs. I love eating at specific places when I’m in town – like Neptune’s in Boston or getting a D’Nics sandwich in Philly – but mostly it’s trying to have That Thing You Can’t Get Better Than Getting It Here.

Favorite road city … it’s hard to top Chicago. But I’ll say that any city is a blast when you’re with sportswriting peers, who are some of the funniest, dedicated and hardest partiers that I know.

TSM: When you aren’t at the rink or writing hockey you are ________???

GW: Attempting to carve out undistracted time with my loved ones and/or melting my brain with episodic television or at the movies.

TSM: How has covering the game changed in the Salary cap era?:

GW: The salary cap ruined fantasy trade scenarios. I miss being able to throw a few names out there and not have someone go “but the AAV!” and provide a needle for that trial balloon. That said, it opened up an amazing number of new ways to look at the game: Judging general manager performances and those of players via the cap numbers; and processing the long-term implications for contracts, for example.

TSM: How has covering the game changed in the Social media world (any thoughts on how Twitter will ever get monetized?:

GW: Social media transformed media. For the better: It created a way to break news and witness history when news breaks. Everyone is now deputized as a reporter. It’s amazing. For the worse: The speed at which reporting has to happen has led to shoddy, unprofessional mistakes that are frankly inexcusable, and we’ve all made them. My mantra, on a lot of stories, is that I’m happy to let the other person be first if my take brings the same news with more context, conversation and consideration.

TSM: Greg, what do you think the NHL will look like in ten years?

GW: The NHL is going to have teams in Europe, ads on jerseys and an expanded playoff format that will include some type of play-in game/series. There will be a woman on a pro coaching staff. For fans, we’re going to be able to watch games in virtual reality, like we’re seated in any seat in the arena, from our couch. Oh, and the nets will be bigger. In some shape or form.

TSM: Do you think the NHL will try to incorporate in the next CBA a provision to ban trading injured players to avoid bottom feeders from circumventing the cap floor?

GW: Tough to say. Everything about it is something the owners and GMs would favor, which is getting rid of problematic contracts and being able to reach the salary cap floor. It’s a loophole that helps the haves and the have-nots, so I think it could survive.

TSM: What do you miss most and least about living in DC?

GW: I loved driving home after Capitals games and seeing the Monument and the White House just there at night and thinking, ‘There are people who’ve only seen these things in text books and postcards and it’s basically my home.” The ability to go from covering a Caps game, walking down the street and be in the middle of the celebration after the death of Bin Laden outside the White House … just surreal.

I don’t miss the traffic. And I’m saying that as a New Yorker, so you know it sucks

TSM: In your time around the Caps/Devils, who was the biggest jerk? Anecdotes welcome.

GW: Joe Corvo’s reputation as a combative dick was well established before he arrived in Washington, and he did nothing to flip that script.

TSM: If you were going to change the game of hockey what would you like changed and why?

GW: . For the NHL, I’d obviously inject some subjectivity into the puck over the glass rule, so guys can’t violate it from the OTHER END OF THE ICE as we’ve seen a few times. From a fundamental hockey perspective, I wouldn’t mind seeing that “parenthetical” widening the nets happen, where the posts are curved outward slightly. Oh, and two-minute majors for every penalty. That too.

TSM: Favorite Joel episode and favorite Mike episode?

GW: Putting “Manos” and “Mitchell” aside for Joel, I’ve always had an affinity for “Pod People” and “Warrior Of The Lost World,” a terrible post-apocalyptic flick that has A-plus riffing. For Mike, I always come back to “Prince of Space,” “Overdrawn At The Memory Bank” and, of course, “Space Mutiny.” BEEF HARDSLAB!

TSM: Assuming you (Greg) started in this business through sports freelance writing – what advice would you (he) give for further developing into the hockey writing game?

GW: I had the benefit of having a steady paying gig while writing freelance on the side, so I might not be the guy to offer the best advice on striking out on just freelance gigs. But I’ll say this: It’s very much about doing high-quality work for the right people, who can help you again with more gigs or with something down the road. But establishing a voice, an expertise, something that stands out about your work, is essential. It’s such a packed field.

TSM: Do you enjoy writing about hockey as you do now or would you ever see yourself focusing on the strictly the business side of the sport?

GW: A good portion of my writing is about the business of sports, and on sports media, so I already have a bit of that taste. If I did write media, it’d be much more Richard Deitsch than Darren Rovell.

TSM: One night with Gillian Anderson or one night with Martin Brodeur?

GW: Whichever one didn’t retire with the Blues.

TSM: When was the last time you wore a coconut bra?

GW: Can’t say I’ve had the pleasure. But I do love Mounds bars, FWIW.

TSM: What do you think the toughest US market to play in would be?

GW: I think Philadelphia remains the toughest place to play, based on expectations, fan reaction and media coverage.

TSM: One event (sports, concert etc) you’d like to attend but haven’t yet?:

GW: A New York Jets Super Bowl. Oh, wait, I though you wrote “sporting event you’d like to attend but know you never will…”

TSM: Favorite Lou story?:

GW: It’s Lou’s first waiver draft in 1987. The Devils selected veteran defensemen Reijo Ruotsalainen from Edmonton in the first round and Risto Siltanen from Quebec in the second. Both players were going to compete in Europe during the 1987-88 season. He then selected former “Mircale on Ice” national team defenseman Jack O’Callahan from the Blackhawks in the fifth round. Under the rules at the time, the Devils had to expose another player in the draft after taking O’Callahan, a five-year veteran. Lamoriello chose to expose Siltanen, who wouldn’t have played for the team regardless.

This was, believe it or not, the first time this loophole had been exposed. By a rookie general manager, no less. What a mensch.

TSM: Being from NJ, Mall Hair or Mall Cop?:

GW: Mall hair. The air quality in Jersey is less affected by smokestacks in Newark than it is by aerosol hair spray.


  1. Keith Murdoch says:

    Is the Toronto media just gonna ignore the fact that Gregg Zaun basically defended Colin Cowherd’s comments about Dominicans?

    Why is Zaun so immune from criticism? When will he be held to account?

  2. CaliforniaStallion says:

    Wow. Crickets. I know not that many people in Canada care about Wysh, but this is sad.

  3. Jp says:

    Anybody reviewed Tim and Sid? I have not been able to watch so I’d like to know how are they faring

  4. Warren says:

    Enjoyed this (and the Sean Fitz-Gerald, too).

    Great to have the conversation expanded beyond Sportsnet & TSN personalities.


  5. Marcus says:

    Yes, good interview, though it would have been fine without the “snark”, which is overrated. But great insight into his background and start in the business .

  6. Robert says:

    What did Zaun say about Cowherd?

  7. Mike S says:

    McCown was in mid-season form on the PTS roundtable on Friday……..in the span of about 15 minutes in the first hour of the roundtable he somehow managed to bring up three of his tired old stories:

    1) Having Brian Burke in his backyard talking about the Leafs defense core

    2) Watching Curtis Joseph practice in Vegas while playing video poker

    3) Bettman telling the NHL board of governors several years ago that he will get a total of $540 million for expansion teams in Las Vegas and Kansas City

  8. alex says:

    Tuesday should be fun radio.

    No need to talk olympics thanks to AA

  9. The Londoner says:

    Huge overnight trade breaks at 1:00 am. In the morning, whose opinion on the deal do I least want to hear and whose opinion amongst the sports media due I value the least? Dean Blundell.

  10. So here we have Rogers, a historically conservative spending team that never signs anyone to 4 year or longer deal, and suddenly they take on a 5 year deal with over $100M owing to a shortstop with good power but fragile body?? Doesn’t this .500 team really need starting pitching, and long/middle relief a fuck ton more than one guy chewing up nearly 1/5 of their entire payroll??

  11. Hans says:

    I was always under the impression that the 4 years or less policy was a Beeston thing and not necessarily Rogers.

    Seems like an odd trade in any case unless this is part of a plan to get pitching in the end.

  12. Alex says:

    I love the differences between stations. 1050 leads at 4:00 with the Brady story and not Jays.

  13. Matty Zero says:

    I love the deal, but I hope Tulo stays healthy. The next time the Rockies don’t screw up a pitching prospect will be the first time. Going to pitch in Coors, will transform those guys into average at best.

  14. Jp, the first thing you notice about Tim and Sid is that unlike the 3 hours we had where things could take time to flow and did not seem forced, this is Tim and Sid on drugs, as between Jays pre-game shows at 6:30 p.m. and a ton of commercials, they jam a lot into the segments.

    I actually prefer to catch it commercial free on the podcasts, even missing some of the visuals which is a small price to pay for it, as it flies by. The content is still great, but the silliness and zaniness in this format is not there, and they play it more straight.

    I have seen enough to know that I prefer the 1-4 p.m. time slot, due to it working better with my schedule, but I get why the change was made, and there is nothing I can do now but work with it.

  15. Marcus says:

    Regarding Joe Corvo, I didn’t know much about him, and in looking him up on the web, came across this article. An interesting read…


  16. Pudge72 says:

    @Keith Murdoch @Robert

    Zaun Cherry basically said that he felt sorry that Cowherd lost his job, since these things (referring I think to what he felt were comments – from Cowherd – taken out of context) tend to get blown out of proportion. It was non-sensical…I couldn’t tell if Zaun Cherry was implying that Bautista should develop a thicker skin, or if he truly felt the comments weren’t meant as the pile of racist garbage that they came across as.

    A Swiss Army knife could not be more of a tool than Zaun is.

    It was part of the in-studio comments just prior to a game against Seattle…Hazel Mae was the co-host since Campbell was actually at the game on vacation.

  17. Pudge72 says:

    @ Chef Mike

    Some points of clarification/rebuttal:

    – They will do a five year contract (See Martin, Russell)
    – Tulo’s contract is actuall $2 million / year less than Reyes for the life of Reyes contract ($20 mil/year vs. $22 mil/year for the this and the next three years).
    – Tulo is, even with injuries, the best SS in MLB by WAR…Reyes is still above average but is also injury-prone, which is causing him to decline quickly (especially on defense). Tulo had offseason surgery that (knock on wood) may have fixed his hip/leg issues that have plagued him the past three years.
    – Jays get better offense and a much better defensive shortstop. Better defense will = fewer runs given up by pitchers.
    – The Jays did pick up a solid relief pitcher, for the rest of this year, in the deal.
    – Agreed, a starting pitcher is a must.

  18. Sperk says:

    The Londoner makes a good point about the Tulo news breaking overnight and therefore, listeners would be forced to endure Blundell for analysis (assuming most people were asleep when Tulo was traded here).

    So, the Price news breaks and (IMHO) the FAN is well situated with Brady and Blair (and Barker but lets ignore him).

    Question is…if big news breaks, who would you want on air to to analyze the news? My feeling is that McCown wouldn’t be high on that list due his detachment from the sports scene and the fact that he’s often paired with the likes of Ken Reid, Shannon et al. I usually don’t mind Bob but the last thing i need to hear when I am looking for info on a breaking story is “Price is just a guy” to hide the fact that Bob has no clue who Price is and Ken Reid cackling about the “THE PRICE WAS RIGHT!”

  19. Sam in Scarb says:

    Question is…if big news breaks, who would you want on air to to analyze the news?
    Actually Mike Hogan is very good at that as is Tim Micallef.
    Bob & Ken Reid would be wondering “why in the fadoo would the Canadians trade Price”

  20. Alex says:

    “Price in deep”

    Glad 590 went with experts In 4:00 hour instead of phone calls.

  21. Keith Murdoch says:

    Isn’t it odd that McCown decided to take a vacation during the week of the MLB trade deadline? Especially for a guy that allegedly likes baseball above all other sports.

  22. alex says:

    The funny thing is that PTS is prob better served by having Blair host this week, to be able to discuss things with experts on a deeper level than Bob.

  23. Matty Zero says:

    I love the ‘What inane references would Ken Reid make?’ today.

    I’ll go with how great Vincent Price was on ‘Thriller’ in 1983.

  24. @Pudge…your not wrong, he is an improvement, but what %age better he over Reyes, who knows…

    What I do now is that with 59 games left, they will need at least 86 wins for the division (lowest winning number in 20 years), or play 34-25 (.576) the rest of the way to do that, a number they haven’t met all year, but the Yankees are on pace to win 91.

    Even with Price and Tulo, that’s a very tall order, so maybe we shouldn’t put the bubbly on ice quite yet…

  25. GrahamM says:

    Not the biggest Blair fan on his own, except for his baseball talk & no interest in Blundell at all. Someone told me he was on vacation this week. Good week for that terrible and boring show to be gone. Anyways, Brady and Blair were together two days in a row when all the Blue Jays news was breaking and were fantastic.

    It was smart, it was organized, they challenged each otehr and no snide little jokes or remarks which I find happens to much with Andrew Walker when he works with Brady, which obviously is all the time. Heard from friends who liked Brady and Blair together maybe just because it was so new and unusual, but the stuff the day of the Price trade was really, really good and made me change my mind as to how interesting and engaged Blair can be.

    Just a thought on what was an amazing week to actually listen to sports radio, which almost never happens in the summer months.

  26. Craig says:

    Calling Europe "junk drawer".  Great insite.  My question is, is all that insite from your years of playing hockey at the highest level, or do you have a sick crystal ball.  LMFAO.  

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