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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by CanuckReporter, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. This already ran.. but I like this thread and would love to get some critical feedback. I wasn't in love with the lead...but it stuck with it, as I was away for the week it ran... in fact I still haven't seen it in the paper yet (back to work monday)
    would love to get some feedback/criticism.
    An outstanding season - Bieksa strikes gold out west
    Scott Rosts

    Published on Aug 10, 2007
    GRIMSBY -- When it came to the off-season, Grimsby native Kevin Bieksa picked up quite the list of honours.

    The Hockey News named the Vancouver Canucks defenceman their Breakout Player of the Year. The Canucks awarded him the team's Best Defenceman award and the Unsung Hero award. Still, Bieksa is quick to refer to one of the major highlights from the 2006-2007 season as the team's accomplishments.

    "The individual awards are great, but it was nice to see how well the team did, winning the Northwest when we weren't even picked to get into the playoffs," said Bieksa. "We didn't do as well as we wanted to do in the playoffs, but we still made it to the second round and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, so we were pretty happy with the progress as a team on the whole."

    Still, it's all pretty bittersweet when it came to how the season ended on the ice - losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games in the Western Conference semifinals.

    "We thought we deserved a better fate against them. We didn't play our best game against them and if we did I think it would have been a different story. For what ever reason it didn't happen for us this year," said Bieksa.

    Bieksa was forced to sit through three of those games due to torn rib cartilage. He played the last two games of the series. Playing through the pain was something he had done the previous round against Dallas. At times the injury made even brushing his teeth a chore, he noted.

    "It was very tough. The first game we had (against Dallas), Game 1, went into the quadruple overtime and I think it took a lot out of both teams," said Bieksa. "But really it's just part of the playoffs. You get hurt and you need to play through it. It's frustrating, but part of the game and it was a great experience."

    On the whole though, it was a great experience this year, said Bieksa. He led the Canucks blue-liners in points (42) and had career highs in goals (12), games played (81) and most points in a game (three, against San Jose last October).

    "Obviously I was happy with how the season went. I got a little bit more of an opportunity this year than I got the previous year. I played with some great players," he said.

    He also got a lot out of having a good start to the year. In 2005-2006 his training camp had been marred by an injury.

    "I had a full training camp this year, so I had a better chance to prove myself and work my way up," said Bieksa. "I ended up getting more opportunities from the coaching staff. You don't get a lot of chances like that and you need to make the best of it. The confidence just kept building from there and that was the key to everything."

    He says he has also been fortunate to have two great defence pairings during his 120 games in the National Hockey League - Mattias Ohlund two seasons ago, and Willie Mitchell this season.

    "They're two great players to play with," said Bieksa. "I've learned different things from each one. Matthias is kind of a complete defenceman. He can do it defensively and offensively, so I pick up little tips from him. Willie I think is one of the best defensive defenceman, if not the best defensive defenceman, in the game. He's constantly pointing out things to me and it's great in that regard."

    This summer Bieksa was awarded with a three-year contract extension, worth $11.125-million, including a bonus, from the Canucks. The deal is quite a promotion from the $525,000 he will earn next year and means he will forego free agency next season and stay in a Canucks uniform until at least 2010-2011.

    "It worked down to me wanting to stay in Vancouver as long as possible and my wife (Katie) really wanted to stay," says Bieksa.

    He said they both really enjoy the life on the west coast.

    "I love first and foremost the team. That's where you have to be comfortable. I was very comfortable with the guys," Bieksa said. "We have a lot of great players at a bunch of different positions. That's going to help the team down the road and I think this team really has the ability to do something special the next four to five years. That was a big reason."

    Kevin and Katie also got active in the community off the ice.

    "My wife took a big step this year in getting involved and did a lot of charity work," he said.

    Through the Canucks for Kids fund, he too found himself active, visiting hospitals and Canuck Place, a free-standing children's hospice. He says he enjoys acting as an ambassador for the club.

    "The team really encourages us to get active in the community and a lot of us enjoy it," said Bieksa. "It's such an easy thing for us to do and means so much to other people."

    As much as they enjoy the life in B.C., the Bieksas plan to regularly return home for summer each year. He noted despite the visits from family, it's a long trip and sometimes tough to be on the different coast.

    "We're both very close to our family and we're far away," he said. "We both want to come back to our roots and get a little break from Vancouver and recharge before we get back. We like it at home, too. We've been here a long time and all our friends and family are here."

    Even though he's back in Grimsby, Bieksa is still out on the ice regularly. He joins a group of pro and college players three times a week on the ice in Hamilton. He says he wants to continue to develop and improve his game.

    "My goal is to just keep getting better. There's always room for improvement and there's things from last year I can get better at," he said.

    Bieksa said he is enjoying the break, but is looking forward to getting back and throwing on that Canucks jersey when camp starts in September.

    "I'm very anxious. We didn't go out the way we wanted to last year and I'm sure there are a lot of guys in the room chomping at the bit to get back at it, have another good season and get a little further in the playoffs."
  2. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    I did some work for the daily in your backyard last year. Right near the end of my time there I was sent out to do a story on an appearance Darcy Tucker was making at a local store. Your paper was also there, as was the local TV station. As per always, the Leafs were in the middle of some desperate push for the playoffs.

    Tucker comes in (an hour late) and the TV people grab him. They ask him a few questions about the Leafs playoff push. He gives them standard stock answers that you could have heard on sports radio driving to the event. Then the reporter for your paper asks me if I mind if he asks a few questions before I do my interview. I'm in no hurry (it's 3 p.m. and I have to 11 p.m. to write the thing) so I tell him to go ahead. I listen as he asks the same questions the TV guys just asked (so you know, Darcy thought that the Leafs could make the playoffs if they just took things one game at a time and played a total team game. They didn't. Must have been looking too far ahead and playing selfishly, I guess).

    Then the TV guys pack-up and your paper leaves. I lean beside Tucker and ask if I he minds me sitting at the side of the table as he signs autographs. He says sure. I have a casual chat with him about what's happening--500 people have stood in line for about two hours to see him. I ask him if he ever takes a step back and considers where his life is. If he realizes how lucky he is to be a professional hockey player living in Canada. I question how he manages to sign so many autographs without his hand cramping (it does, he tells me. He's just learned to fake it).

    While I was waiting for him to show up, I wander out to the line. I meet a family--young, working class--from Welland. They had been there since 7 a.m. The daughter's hero was Tucker (mom liked him too. And dad did more than he wanted to admit, I gathered). I asked them why they would wait that long to see a middling hockey player. Dad said "'cause it will make my daughter happy."

    So, I wrote a story about a family that waited eight hours in the rain to see Darcy Tucker and how that made him feel. If you wanted to learn about the Leafs playoff plight, you likely could have turned to the agate pages.

    The point I'm making with this is, when faced with this type of assignment--NHL player returns home/graces us with his presence, you need work hard to find a reason why you are telling the story. I'm sorry, but a re-cap of the guy's season isn't adding any value. If you are a hockey fan from Grimsby you already know that stuff. If you aren't a hockey fan, there is nothing for you in the story.

    What's the local story here? Is there a coach in the area that had a big influence on him as a kid? Another local player he looked up to? What this guy did in Vancouver can be summed up in a paragraph. Readers in Grimsby what to know what it is about Grimsby that Bieksa holds onto.

    Or, maybe, you could look at what Bieksa's development as a player has meant to others in the community. Is he the first NHLer in a while? If so, why has there been so few? If not, what is it about Grimsby that helps produce NHL players.

    Basically, give me a bit less NHL and a lot more Grimsby. Because otherwise you would have been better off covering a minor softball tournament.
  3. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member


    I can't say that I disagree with the point that Mr Rollins made. Finally.

    I would say this: If it is going to be NHL oriented, I'd want a scene in the lead, maybe him playing through injury or the 4OT. If you can show him in action--having him describe and reconstruct--you're in business. And, if like Mr rollins says, you could double back to the hometown--4OT's the longest he was on the ice since he skated on Miller's Pond all day, like when he took his arm out of a sling to play in the Quebec peewee tournament, or whatever.

    As it stands you first two sentences are: 1. There's a list coming. 2. Here's the list. Flat as the screen sitting in front of you.

    YHS, etc
  4. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    That was a bit verbose, wasn't it...Meh.
  5. DG,
    Thanks for the feedback..
    Kinda kickin myself in the butt for one slant I didn't include in the story.

    What's the local story here? Honestly that's something I should look into. He didn't play a lot of minor stuff here, as many kids go the hamilton or other centres route, as it is AAA. I am sure there is somethign there though that as you say he "holds onto" about Grimsby...

    The development aspect is something I think i may have overlooked and referred to kicking my butt over.I specifically asked about his route to the NHL because I knew it wasn't typical. He decided on college (at a young age) over major junior and went that route, and actually developed his game there.. gave credit even to the strength coach there saying it best prepared him. i made the decision to leave it out because I didnt feel it fit in with where I went with it in terms of the recap story.

    I should have put it in perspective of how I did a recent story with Darryl Sittler when I ran into him at an event/signing here in Niagara for the casino. Being Niagara is welcoming back the OHL this season, I talked to him about that and asked him about his days and memories playing in Niagara. I figured everyone and their brother knows about the 10-point game etc. (ok, well I wasn't born yet, but whatever..)

    Is he the first NHLer in a while? If so, why has there been so few? If not, what is it about Grimsby that helps produce NHL players. <--- interesting angle there too.. he is the first in a while.. i think there has only been one other from proper grimsby...

    Basically, give me a bit less NHL and a lot more Grimsby. Because otherwise you would have been better off covering a minor softball tournament. <-- not necessarily agreeing with the softball comment ;) but know what you're saying. my whole reason for the story was the newsy aspect/idea of the contract "reward", which i ended up burying.. so really not sure why my story took the shape it did. It wasn't intended so much to be a schmoozy grimsby thing, aside from, yes, I included his comments about coming home.

    anyways, thanks again for the feedback guys.. much appreciated. this is the first time i had the chance to do an interview like that.. and will look at it a new way next time

    ps- was it the future shop opening? do you still work out this area?

  6. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    [quote author=CanuckReporter
    ps- was it the future shop opening? do you still work out this area?

    No, the big electronics store downtown.
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