Ice, Ice, Baby: My Short, Happy Life as a Hockey Writer


De'Enlas Head

Wings of fire: Left wing Tomas Tatar of the Detroit Red Wings practices on the ice at Joe Louis Arena.

DETROIT – My official start as a sports writer for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team was March 13.

I drove out to the Joe Louis Arena to get the day started. I was dressed professionally with my voice recorder in my pocket, and a reporter’s notebook and pen in hand.

The day started with a question and answer session with journalists Kevin Allen of USA Today, Michael Caples of Michigan Hockey, Bob Duff of the Windsor Star and Ken Kal, the voice of the Detroit Red Wings, who does play-by-play announcing.

There I was, sitting in the press box, next to other high school journalists I had never met, anxiously looking at the panel to teach me more about journalism and the life of a sports writer.

The first things the sports writers discussed were the difficulties. They talked about not getting discouraged, but climbing a long, slippery ladder to become an established sports journalist covering hockey.

Allen told us, “As a writer, every day is different. Doing this job isn’t for a soft skin.”

I learned that day, that hockey writers rough out their stories before the actual game – one version with a winging swing, and one version with a losing one.

They taught me that they write their stories for the most part bottoms up because they won’t know how the game ends until it’s over, The outcome of the game is usually in the first paragraph.

The day came with yummy perks – Little Caesar’s pizza, which happens to be owned by Mike Ilitch, the same owner of the Detroit Red Wings.

The professional sports writers told us that trying to watch the full game is almost impossible. Only the key plays and goals are all the writer gets to see.

Competing with technology and being the first to drop the big scoop of the game is a stressful and demanding job, they said.

We also got a chance to interview a few hockey players. Red Wings center Luke Glendening told the high school sports writers, “Be honest, respect us as we respect you. Understand that we are not just athletes but people as well. That’s how you give a good interview and how you would receive one back.”

Not only Glendening, But defensive player Jonathan Ericsson and left wing Tomas Tatar told about how much a player would hold back and not open up to a rude reporter compared to someone who is respectful and understands the emotional strain after a big loss.

I’m thankful to have been a part of the Detroit Red Wings High School Journalist Day presented by ITC Holdings Corp.

It was a great experience that gave me a head start in the career of sports writing.

I hope I can go again, not as an anxious kid, but as a member of “Meet our Beat” guest reporters for the Red Wings.

But that’s another story.