Writing may seem to be a solitary pursuit, but it isn’t. Our friends, colleagues, and family are likely to provide feedback during the creative stages. Others help give pieces their shape and readers help identify typos, factual errors and other ways to make our writing ever sharper.
Recently, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo sports sent Chemmy, PPP and me an email asking us to take part in a new write-up at Puck Daddy. Greg was doing an “essentials” series to identify the singular player, goal, series, etc. for each of the 30 NHL clubs.
Our Leafs essential piece was recently posted at the Puck Daddy blog. I thought readers might find it interesting to get a peek behind the creative curtain – a chance to see how we work together at PPP to produce such forgettable content.
After receiving the initial email from Greg, the three of us reacted to this great idea very quickly by not giving Greg any type of response, doing any research or even discussing it amongst ourselves.
For me, one of the reasons for the inaction was the challenge the article presented: how do you come up with essentials for a franchise that’s nearly 100 years old and has gone through so many distinct phases?
I’m not sure how the idea came to me, but I decided a multiple choice format might be a fun way to let people define their own essential Leaf. Given the Leafs’ tendency to be, well, awful I thought it might be fun if for each of the questions we included a choice that reflected the worst of the franchise.
I assembled an early draft and sent it over to PPP and Chemmy for their feedback.
PPP suggested expanding the eras – that there was too much focus on the Leafs of the 70s and 90s. He was right. I expanded the multiple choice fields from A to C, to in some cases A to E.
Chemmy gave me some great feedback on tightening up the intro, and selecting a few players/goals/ happenings that weren’t so similar.
The piece was coming into form.
Testing the Material
I had lunch with Godd Till from Cox Bloc and told him about our plans for the piece. His immediate response – “The Brian McCabe own-goal against
has to be in there.” He was absolutely right – it was another great addition. Buffalo
I shared a few of the jokes with his former Cox Bloc partner Kim Jorn who helped further refine the essential Leaf section. I laughed at his Nathan Dempsey joke, but ultimately couldn’t find room for it in the final piece.
We now had a rather lengthy piece, well over 1,500 words, which I hoped balanced Leafs fans pride in the team with the acknowledgement that the Leafs, more often than not, aren’t very good; a piece that showed why I’m a Leaf fan and recognized that this is not an easy franchise to cheer for.
We submitted our 1,000+ word piece to the Yahoo community, here’s their feedback.
Puck Daddy Essentials: Leafs Edition
[Yahoo! Commentators note: You can only have one essential Leaf. Please make the essential Leaf George Armstrong, Apps, Bailey, Barilko, Bower, Broda, Conacher, Clancy,
Day, Gilmour, Horton, Kelly, Kennedy, Keon, Mahovalich, Sittler, Salming, Vaive.]
[Yahoo! Commentators note: please change to 1967, it makes both Leasf fans and detraktors happy]
[Yahoo! Commentators note: The Leafs have won the second most Cups in the League and have nearly 90 years of history to draw on. Surely the “Essential Game” should reflect the accomplishments of this storied franchise. Please change this to Game 7 win over the New York Islanders in 2002]
[Yahoo! Commentators note: Every goal is essential*
*every goal is not essential – Al Iafrate fans.]
[Yahoo! Commentators note: Please change to the trade where the Leafs aquired my favourite player.]
[Yahoo! Commentators note: Please make the unsung Leaf: Barilko, Bill Berg, Conacher, Corson, Day, Green, Horton, Joseph, Kelly, Mahovalich, McCauley, Potvin, Tucker]
[Yahoo! Commentators note: we searched Bing and this Alan Frew guy doesn’t play in the NHL. Please re-write without made-up names.]
a) Forbes Kennedy v. the Boston Bruins and the Bruins fans
b) Felix Potvin v. Ron Hextall
c) Wendel Clark v. Marty McSorley
[Yahoo! Commentators note: If JFJ fought a childproof bottle, and quite frankly we don’t remember that happening, it was only because the MLSE board told him too]
b) Pat Burns
c) Pat Quinn
b) Bob Cole
c) Joe Bowen
[Yahoo! Commentators note: This should read, “Cheering on the Leafs no matter what!”]
Waffles! [Yahoo! Commentators note: now that’s how you make a joke.]
Swag jersey, hat, shirt, gear, etc.
[Yahoo! Commentators note: Are you even a Leafs fan? Please change to Leafs sweater]