ESPN’s hockey analyst Greg Wyshynski grew up in Matawan, New Jersey. So, when he started becoming a fan of hockey at a young age, he gravitated to the home state Devils even though his father was a New York Islanders fan.
“When I first got into hockey I wanted to root for the team in New Jersey,” he told the Speak of the Devils podcast. “My first year of really engaging with the team was ’88, the first time they made the playoffs. That hooked me, living and dying with your team through playoff rounds, which at the time were bloody playoff rounds, was awesome.”
After his father hit the New Jersey lottery, he used the winnings to purchase Stanley Cup Final tickets in 1995 when the Devils faced the Detroit Red Wings. And he chose to buy tickets for Game 4.
“His idea was he wanted to get Game 4 against Detroit because he believed that it would definitely happen, you can’t win the Cup in three games, and he believed we were going to get our (rears) kicked so bad that Detroit would probably win the Cup that night,” Wyshynksi said. “It turned out the complete other way. The Devils sweep the Red Wings. He and I are there to see the Cup get awarded. It’s euphoria.
“I made an octopus out of a child’s ball and the head of a mop that I braided into legs. And I made a cartoon bubble that said ‘sweep me’ on it.”
Wyshynski’s fandom would find its way into his writing career, whether it was with AOL Sports’ FanHouse, Deadspin, Yahoo! Sports’ blog Puck Daddy or ESPN.
“I came up as a writer in the mid-00s. It was verboten to be like I’m a fan of this team and the sport that I’m paid to cover. I just didn’t care,” he said. “I felt that fandom informed who I am and informed my passion of being a hockey writer. I was going to be accused of it anyway. If I was critical of the Flyers, they were going to say here’s a picture of this kid in a Devils jersey. So, let’s be candid about it. It was freeing.”
Some other topics discussed on the podcast were…
- A look back at the season
- The reasons for optimism
- Hischier’s underrated status
- Hamilton’s season
- needs for next season
- His Devils fandom
- His favorite Devils players
- Becoming a sports journalist
- The emergence of blogging
- Life with ESPN