Newfoundland Hockey Talk Turns Eight

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Updated: January 15, 2013

No one could have envisioned a website dedicated to Newfoundland hockey would grow into one of the most visited and most controversial places fans go to find out information about their favourite teams.  However, Newfoundland Hockey Talk has grown from a small site with a few hundred members to one that meets the demands of thousands of hockey enthusiasts.

“Hockey Talk” or “The Blog” as many people in hockey circles refer to it started in 2005 and came about when a local business owner, Barry Wheeler, was approached by a few Corner Brook Royals fans.  They wanted someplace to call their own.  Within a few hours, the site became a reality and it quickly became the focal point for anyone looking for hockey information.  Wheeler was not even aware of its success until contacted by a local media outlet to discuss what was taking place.

Wheeler says, “I got the call from The Western Star wanting to talk to me about my hockey site.  At the time I was maintaining the Royals website and thought it was something related to that.  When the reporter told me it was about the small discussion forum that I had created, I was surprised.  I checked out the statistics and realized the site had grown to several hundred members.  Hockey Talk was born!”

Since then the site has grown to a few thousand members and now sees the number of visitors number in the thousands each day.  Hockey season is the busiest time but the stats clearly show that hockey is on the minds of many Newfoundlanders.  The site displays millions of pages and has forced the owner of this hobby site to upgrade internet services several times.

“People think I get rich from the site,” Wheeler says, when talking about some of the emails he receives.  “However, the site was initially subsidized by my company and since that closed, I’ve gladly paid for it.  I’m a hockey fan and it’s my way of giving back to the community.”

These aren’t the only emails that Wheeler receives, as he shows some of the things “insiders” send him.  “It can be anything from photos, videos, which teams are having troubles and general gripes about how people treat one another online,” he says, as he flips through the hundreds of messages has has filed away for future reference.

In listening to the passion he has for the game, it’s evident that Hockey Talk is more than a website.  It is like a child that Wheeler has nurtured over the last eight years despite the challenges and criticisms it has brought his way.  Many people see the site as a place people go to whine, gripe and criticize what is happening in the hockey community.  Sometimes threads deteriorate into personal attacks and in listening to what the owner of “The Blog” says, this type of behavior is not tolerated.  Wheeler says, “Some see things as an attack on fans, players, coaches … whomever.  However, when I look at it from an objective position, take away some of the obvious biases that enter the picture, there’s nothing more than a disagreement.  People for the most part are passionate about their position and fans don’t mind voicing it.  The moderators and admins that help out do a great job and keep the place alive.  If it wasn’t for them and the fans as a whole, Hockey Talk wouldn’t exist.”

Talk to any hockey fan around and they will tell you the importance of “The Blog”.  It has become the focal point for fan interaction over the last eight years, resulted in many friendships developing and many people having a continued interest in hockey.  Despite what the league, players, teams and coaches say, it has become obvious that everyone reads the site.  They may deny they do but they do.

The one thing that Wheeler wishes would happen is for the league and the teams to embrace what the site offers.  It does provide them a mechanism to get a message out to the fans.  He openly encourages them to use the site and to build the game of hockey in the province.

congratulations to Newfoundland Hockey Talk on your birthday!

To visit the site and participate in the discussion, visit http://www.nlhockeytalk.ca/hockey

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