Real Interviews With Actual People: John Buccigross

You may know this man from such places as ESPN’s Sportscenter, the now defunct NHL2Night, ESPN.com and his book Jonesy: Put Your Head Down and Skate. He is John Buccigross, one of the biggest names in hockey media and someone we admire greatly. Recently, he was kind enough to answer our questions and put himself in the precarious position of following Carrie Milbank in the second installment of our series Real Interviews With Actual People.

Thanks to John for putting up with our shenanigans and adding his name to the list of people who don’t mind talking to bloggers.

BMR: First off, we have to ask, what is your favorite chicken parm recipe?

JB: There is no such thing as a bad piece of chicken. Therein lies the power of chicken parm.  But, mom’s is always the best.

BMR: To us, it seems like whenever the words “ESPN” and “hockey” are involved in a conversation, it’s inevitable that someone will mention how much they wish NHL2Night was still on the air. Do you get that sense too or is it just us? Do people mention the show to you a lot?

JB: I get hundreds and hundreds of mentions verbally and through email about the days of NHL2night.  It remains the only nightly NHL highlight show produced in the U.S in the history of civilization.  It’s also part of the 90′s which is an underrated decade. Much better than this one we are finishing up. 

BMR: The 90s was a great decade, although I don’t really miss all the flannel. What do you miss the most?
JB: I miss the music. Many great bands were born in the 90′s. Look it up. It was also the last human decade we will ever have. It was also pre 9/11.  The world got so technological so fast that I think the world is colder place because of it.  That’s also the decade I became a dad three times over and there is nothing cooler than that.  And I married a young, hot 22 year old during the 90′s too.  That was before the dad part.
 
BMR: Have you had any odd encounters with NHL2Night fanatics?
JB: One of my favorite moments I’ve had, although it was more of an ESPN.Com hockey column moment, with a “fan” happened in a New York City elevator at around midnight.  I was headed up to my room there were two dudes in the elevator and one had tattoos everywhere, earrings, nose ring, eyebrow ring, huge hair filled with product, black t shirt, jeans, chains and the like. It was quiet and all of the sudden the young kid said, “Dude. I really like your hockey column.”  That remains my all time favorite moment involving a fan.

BMR: The other inevitability of that conversation involving “ESPN” and “hockey” is that someone else will mention how much they wish the NHL was still on ESPN. Do you see it ever coming back to Bristol?

JB: I’m sure someday it will. We do sports here and we do it well.  I don’t know when.

Our talk continues after the jump…

BMR: You’re not a blogger in the “underwear clad basement dweller” sense of the word, but you’ve been writing about hockey on the internet for a number of years now. Would you consider yourself a blogger, journalist or somewhere in between?

JB: I’m not a big label guy because I don’t like to get comfortable with organized groups. That included fraternities, clubs, or any kind of militia.  I’m very independent and I like to be open to appreciate everybody no what what “group” they are in.  I think I would be a journalist. I have written in my underwear for sure in my basement and I’m being serious. I wrote a U2 themed column in my basement in my underwear in 2002, long before the term blogger invented. So maybe I was a blogger before blogging was cool.   I think a blogger is a person who reads and reacts to the news of the day on a daily basis. I don’t do that on ESPN.Com. I write once a week from September-June so I probably don’t deserve the blogger title. Maybe part time blogger.  Since 2001 I have had a column that has a central theme but presents that theme using the broad paintbrush of popular culture to help tell my story. I’ve also always had an email bag question and answer segment that does serve as kind of a controlled comment section. I know I am NOT a Russian woman. Other than that, I’m not so sure.

BMR: Do you get any snail mail letters for your epic mailbags?

JB: No. Only pictures of unemployed Hooters girls.

BMR: Newspapers are struggling, blogs and other forms of new media are on the rise. Where do you think all of this is headed? Are we moving towards something bigger or is this all some kind of mediapolcalypse in the making?

JB: It’s very difficult to say. The loss of classifieds and the immediacy of the internet has hurt newspapers. So has attention spans dwindling. I still love newspapers and think they have a purpose especially on Sunday’s.  The problem with the internet is it’s free. I wonder how even they can exist with that model.  It is going to be interesting to watch. I feel lucky to have a TV job that can support my desires to be a writer.

BMR: Speaking of new media, have you given into the Twitter craze?

JB: I don’t see the need to twitter.  I text, I email, I talk to people on the phone.  Facebook is enough for me.

BMR: What’s more rewarding, writing on ESPN.com, where you can see comments and get instant feedback, or anchoring Sportscenter, where your audience is massive, but you can’t get the same feedback?

JB: I get much more satisfaction from writing.  The TV pays much better and the feeling of being live on TV is still a high that can’t be reenacted.  Having fun, doing highlights, gettin silly with Scott Van Pelt, that’s college fun. But then the show goes away and most people forget about it.  I have columns I wrote eight years ago that people still comment on to me. I feel like I’m doing something more impactful and lasting when I write.

BMR: What’s the deal with Burnside and Hradek’s videos on ESPN.com? Are they on the run or is this another sign of the struggling economy? Seriously, we love their work and are concerned about their well being (and are afraid of cuts in hockey coverage).

JB: Someday I will show you videos involving EJ Hradek that might get him arrested.

BMR: You helped write Keith Jones’ book a few years ago, Jonesy: Put Your Head Down and Skate. Are we going to see Bucci: Put Your Head Down and Write anytime soon?

JB: I will never write a book on my life, but I would like to write a book on my columns and maybe some other biographies on other people I find interesting like Barry Melrose, and Shjon Podein.  Ray Ferraro and Cammi Granato might make a 2 in 1 book as well (They are married) I also have interest in taking a shot at fiction and a children’s book. I’ve also dreamed of doing a movie based on Jonesy and other hockey stories. We need another raw hockey movie.

BMR: There is a serious disconnect between the excitement of being at the game and watching it on TV especially for non-hockey fans. Do you have any ideas for breaching that, or do you think everyone just needs to get to a game?

JB: I’m one of those people who believes that hockey televises very well on television.  To continue to try to duplicate the arena experience I would continue to attempt to improve and perfect the audio portion of the broadcast.

BMR: OK, be honest. How much time does Barry spend on his hair before Sportscenter?

JB: Barry takes a quart of motor oil, slicks back his hair and he’s done. Five, six seconds. Now, shaving his back..that’s an ordeal.

BMR: Your contract with ESPN is up in 2012. What will it take to get you to jump ship and sign with us? (Remember that we’re Facebook friends with Carrie Milbank when answering this question.)

JB: Unlimited Carrie Milbank and chicken parm and I am in. And beer.

BMR: When I was at Purdue, more than one person told me that you were an alum, but it turns out this is not true. How do you suppose a rumor like this gets started? Do you think perhaps people had you confused with Jim Gaffigan?

JB: Who the hell is Jim Gaffigan?  I did not go to Purdue. Or William and Mary. Or Tulane.  Or McNeese State. Or Marist.

BMR: Last but not least, please lead us out with some song lyrics.

JB: Wake me when it’s over, touch my face
Tell me every word has been erased
Don’t you want to know the reason
Why the cupboard’s not appealing
Don’t you get the feeling that

Everything that’s right is wrong again
You’re a weasel overcome with dinge
Weasel overcome but not before the damage done
The healing doesn’t stop the feeling

Everything right is wrong again
Just like in the long long trailer
All the dishes got broken and the car kept driving
And nobody would stop to save her

And now the song is over now
And now the song is over now
And now the song is over now
The song is over now

“Everything right is wrong again” by They Might Be Giants.

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