As you folks already know, I am a big fan of the NHL Network.
I love the content, the hosts, the innovations, and the fact that the channel is all hockey all the time. I am proud to present an email interview that I conducted with NHL Network host Jamison Coyle.
Jamison clearly loves the game, knows the sport inside and out, and really seems to enjoy covering all things hockey. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on what has been going on in the NHL to start the season, as well as why he loves working for the NHL Network so much.
I hope you folks enjoy this!
PH: What are your general thoughts regarding the start of this season?
JC: A quarter of the season is already in the books. It is amazing how quickly it goes by.
Teams cannot make the playoffs in October or November, but they can certainly play their way out of them early in the year. I am impressed with the young players in the league and how much of a role they play on their respective teams as they do not shy away from the spotlight, and more times than not, they come into the league and hit the ground running with very little adjustment period.
It is amazing to see how NHL-ready these guys are nowadays when they enter the league at such a young age.
PH: What teams have surprised you coming out of the gate? Why?
JC: Edmonton Oilers – Raise your hand if you picked them to represent the West in the Conference Final (me!). There is a long way to go, but the Oilers are obviously the most disappointing team to start the season. The expectations were sky-high, and underachieving would be an understatement. The coaching change has proven to help in the short term. We will see how it plays out the rest of the way.
Anaheim Ducks – What a pleasant surprise in Anaheim. Last year, they were brutal to watch, and this year, they were must-see TV to start the season. Mason McTavish, Leo Carlsson, Frankie Vatrano…you name it, they were playing well above expectations and, for a minute, made us question whether or not the Ducks were this year’s version of the New Jersey Devils last year. Over the last couple of weeks, it is starting to come back down to earth, but again the Ducks have been a pleasant surprise.
Boston Bruins – I do not know if anyone had the Bruins starting the season the way they did, based on the key departures they had in the offseason. Structure, goaltending, and core leadership have led to yet another hot start in Boston.
PH: What is another team that has been a disappointment so far? Why?
JC: I think the Devils have been a major disappointment. After such a terrific season last year, to look at the standings and see the Devils in 7th place right now in the Metro is quite surprising.
Granted, injuries to Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier have not helped their cause, but good teams find a way to weather the storm while waiting on the big boys to get back in the lineup (i.e., Tampa and the Big Cat).
PH: It is becoming abundantly clear that the Oilers have a goaltending issue. What do you think, if anything, they will do to address it?
JC: I think they are hoping Stuart Skinner returns to form from last year and that Jack Campbell finds his game (and, more importantly, his confidence) down in the AHL. Trust me, not a lot of teams are going to do the Oilers a favor and send a solid goalie their way without a king’s ransom in return.
I think the best-case scenario is their goalies find their game, and a lot of that has to do with the way the players are playing in front of them. Defense, structure…blah blah blah.
It sounds so cliche, but the best teams in the league all have it. You will never outscore your problems in the NHL. It does not work that way, especially come playoff time.
PH: Why do you think teams like the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights continue to have so much success?
JC: Vegas and Boston have success because of their structure and depth. Goaltending is great, but a big reason why is the way they play in front of them.
As I said previously, you will never outscore your problems, and both these teams have committed to the way they need to play in their own end first. Everything starts from there!
PH: I must admit that I am very jealous of you in a good way because you work at the NHL Network. What is it like to work for a channel that is all hockey, all of the time?
JC: It is the best gig in the world. We get paid to watch hockey on a nightly basis, something I had been doing for free if I did not work at the NHL Network (shhhhhhh, do not tell them, I still like when the paychecks show up).
In all seriousness, getting to watch the games with the analysts we have is such a treat. These guys see the game in such a unique way that every night, I learn something new. That, and the fact that no two days are ever the same…..it is why we love sports! Cannot predict it!
PH: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us hockey fans?
JC: Nope. We appreciate the passion of each and every hockey fan. It is what makes it the best sport in the world!