John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


Where have I been?

A corner of the Canadian Press newsroom in Toronto. Not my corner though. This picture is from Centennial College's journalism blog, taken by Gesila Azorbo.

As you can see, I haven’t posted on this blog since – yikes – the middle of April.

Where has all my writing energy gone? To the Canadian Press, of course.

In early March I was taken off the junior hockey beat and bumped up to a reporter-editor on the sports desk. Since then, I’ve been working between three and six shifts a week covering anything that comes across my desk, sometimes on day shifts and sometimes at night.

There are four “spots” on the sports desk that a reporter-editor fills.

Broadcast news – Broadcast News was a separate company that for years provided television and radio stations with copy for announcers to read. The Canadian Press bought BN and eventually merged it into its main news wire service. The BN desk is still responsible for writing and editing copy primarily for our broadcast wire and taking care of audio-visual material.

This means turning around audio clips for TV and radio stations and writing what we call sportsbreaks and minutes.

You’ll hear this copy on the radio, typically on a non-sports station. Consider a classic rock station. If the DJ isn’t a big sports fan, or is too busy managing the songs on the station, they just use our sportsbreak to run down the latest sports news every hour or so. The writing is simple, brief and designed to be easily read by those unfamiliar with the pronunciation of athletes names.

For example, recent NBA playoff MVP Dirk Nowitzki would be written as “recent N-B-A playoff M-V-P Dirk Nowitzki (noh-VIHT'-skee)”.

Second chair – On the sports desk the second chair has a lot of names. “Second chair”, “second editor”, “little chair”. Generally, this editor is responsible for Canadianizing copy from the Associated Press by highlighting the accomplishments of Canadian athletes (“Toronto’s Joey Votto”) and fixing words to their Canadian spelling (dueled becomes duelled, among countless other changes).

The second chair might also write fresh copy, from box score, press release or phone interview. Most often, it’s a combination of all three. However, all that is at the discretion of the slotperson.

Slotperson – The slot is the person in charge of the desk. They dish out assignments and are the final arbiter of what is or isn’t newsworthy. The morning slotperson is the first to arrive and the evening slot is the last to leave at – God help them – 3 a.m. I haven’t had many of these shifts since I’m pretty new to the desk, but it does happen.

The slotperson does everything the second chair does, only more of it and is expected to take responsibility for the biggest story of the day, whatever it may be.

General assignment – On occasion senior reporter-editors are put on general assignment so they can pursue feature stories or develop their beat. For example, our Canadian Football League writer Dan Ralph has been preparing for the upcoming season and hockey writer Chris Johnston has been getting ready for the NHL draft. I’m not yet senior enough to do GA, but I still thought I’d mention this desk task.

All this adds up to me being a very busy guy. I’ve gone stretches with 12 shifts in 13 days.

Unfortunately, as much as I love writing, reading and editing, it’s hard to get jazzed about it when you’ve already done it for seven hours that day.

In any event, now that I’m becoming more comfortable on the desk I’ll be coming back here a lot more. I’ve got some book reviews coming up for Chapters-Indigo that I’ll cross-post here as well as some pieces specifically for this blog as well as some work for my friends over at


My latest for – Like his personality, Burns leaves large legacy

I'm particularly proud of my work last weekend for I wrote a brief piece on Pat Burns' impact on the National Hockey League's Northeast Division and my hockey fandom. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Like his personality, Burns leaves large legacy
A former policeman, Burns looked the part behind the bench with his thick moustache, but didn’t act like any cop that would visit my elementary school or volunteer with my Cub Pack. He was always yelling, screaming or trying to get at the other team’s bench. My parents had to awkwardly explain what he’d just said to the referees that had gotten him in so much trouble. (Although I had no problem understanding the idea of sending him to the locker room as punishment.)

He was easily my favorite of the Leafs. As news of Burns’ death spread Friday night, it quickly became clear I wasn’t the only one.

25Oct/100 – Northeast Notebook

Nathan Horton has been an impact player for the Boston Bruins so far this season.

I'll be talking about this more tomorrow, but I wanted to remind all of you that every Saturday night I write an article on the comings and goings of the National Hockey League's Northeast Division for Follow the block quote to read the piece from two days ago.

The Maple Leafs have been one of the biggest surprises this season. The question is whether or not they can maintain that pace, especially with the Bruins closing in fast. This weekend will go a long way to separating the wheat from the chaff in the Northeast.

- Northeast Notebook: Behind their offense, Bruins beginning to break out


The Return of the Link Dump

Autumn has arrived once again and with the changing of the leaves comes the busiest time of the year in the world of sports.

That applies to the journalists who cover sports as well, so this blog has fallen into disuse for the past week as I’ve been cranking out articles for other outlets. Here’s a quick rundown:

On Tuesday the Globe and Mail (and other websites) ran an article I wrote about the Ontario Hockey League indefinitely postponing their All-Star Game.

Wednesday the Winnipeg Free Press picked up a bit of an OHL season preview I did.

I’ve been busy over at as well, writing pre-season looks at the Northeast Division starting with the Boston Bruins and then moving on to the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators before finishing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hockey’s not the only sport I’m following this fall either, as field lacrosse has started up. I’ve got a vested interest as I’m continuing my involvement in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association as its Communications Director.

I’ve already written a review of the first week of play for the league’s website and I'll be penning a second one today.

That’s a quick update for you, but you should expect more content from me in the next week, starting with the return of My Weekend in Junior Hockey on Monday.


My latest for Hockey Prime Time

Montreal's Westmount Arena, site of the first NHL game.

Recognize this place? It's one of my top 10 arenas in NHL history. Hover your cursor over the picture for the answer.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m involved with a hockey website called It’s a great site that offers up news and analysis of the National Hockey League as well as hockey around the world.

Normally I’d be writing some notebooks on the comings and goings of the NHL’s Northeast division.

However, since there’s no hockey on right now we’ve been putting together a series of Top 10 lists. I’ve contributed two articles to the project and I’m really proud of both of them.

Most recent was my list of the Top 10 Arenas in Hockey History. A few recent rinks that made the list are Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena and Philadelphia’s Spectrum.

My other Top 10 list was posted about a week ago and breaks down the Top 10 Most Influential Individuals in NHL history. I had a blast writing it. Like my work with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame I got to combine my interest in history with my love of hockey.

Art Ross, former general manager of the Boston Bruins and innovator of the game.

Recognize this guy? He's #9 on my list of the most influential people in NHL history. Hover your cursor over the picture for his name.

I think my list of ten influential people will surprise some people and hopefully it’ll also introduce people to some players and builders who don’t get enough credit for shaping the modern NHL. I also feel that some people will be surprised at who is at the top of the list as the most influential man in NHL history.

In any event, it was a lot of fun putting these lists together.

What do you think the most significant hockey arenas are in hockey history?

What about influential people? Do you think I missed anyone?


Back to the blogging!

It’s been weeks since I last posted on ye olde blogge, thanks largely to my ongoing involvement with the development of new content for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

But since I was waiting on some editorial turnaround, I decided to go on a baseball pilgrimage of the northeastern United States, touring the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the new Yankee Stadium and Citifield in New York City and then on to the oldest stadium in the majors, Boston’s Fenway Park.

It was at the home of the Red Sox that I proposed to my fiancé Katy, capping off an amazing vacation.

But I owe you, my readers, an apology. I was so busy planning my trip and proposal that I didn’t do my due diligence and post links to my most recent writing before leaving for the U.S. I’m sorry because I like to keep you all updated on my various projects.

Recently,  I’ve been doing some pretty exciting work for, including a draft preview, a free agent preview and a notebook, all on the National Hockey League’s Northeast division.

Even worse, my holiday matched up with one of the craziest fortnights in sports history. Let’s recap with a few quick hits.

Only Japanese officials from now on – Yes, early favourite Spain did win the World Cup on Sunday. But their victory, along with the results of many other games, was tainted by terrible officiating.

What was particularly galling in the championship game was that Spanish forward Andrés Iniesta’s winning goal was made possible by an undeserved  goal kick - the ball had clearly been deflected out of bounds by a Spanish defender.

By my eyes, the only consistently strong officials hailed from Japan, odd for a nation that has only recently taken to soccer. The 2010 was a huge opportunity for FIFA to expand its brand to North America, a chance that was blown by the officials.

Iroquois Nationals might not make FIL World Championship – In a completely bizarre situation, the Iroquois Nationals team is currently unable to attend the lacrosse world championship in Manchester, England later this week.

Inside Lacrosse editor-in-chief John Jiloty explains:

“The issue centers around the Nationals (a group of 42, all members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy) traveling on their Haudenosaunee passports. For more than 20 years, they’ve traveled on these passports with no problem. But the United Kingdom will only allow them into their country if the United States will let them back in. And as of Friday, the Iroquois did not have that assurance from the U.S.”

This is totally nuts. Yes, they’re travelling on a very specialized kind of passport, but the Iroquois are all Canadian and American citizens and upstanding ones at that.

The idea that they might miss out on playing a sport they invented because they can’t return to a continent that they’re indigenous to is pure lunacy.

The Decision LeBacle – I know, I know. Everyone and their aunt has already talked about LeBron James’ one-hour ESPN special where he callously announced his move to the Miami Heat. But how can I not talk about it? It will undoubtedly become one of the turning points of sport in the past 50 years, not just because that hour of television was a public relations disaster, but because it’s going to change the face of free agency in the National Basketball Association, and probably other major league sports as well.

I’ve got a lot more to say on all these topics, but I’ll leave you on that note. Blogging on weekdays has returned! Brap-brap.