Ten years! Can you believe that Puck Junk is a decade old? Sometimes, I can’t believe that I’ve stuck with this whole writing thing for so long, partially because I have a penchant from changing hobbies every few years. Sure, I am passionate about hockey — and I always will be — but to write about it consistently for a decade is an accomplishment I am proud of. And I have all of you to thank for that.
When I launched Puck Junk on October 5, 2007, I did so because it was a way for me to write about hockey cards and collectibles. I never thought I would be good enough, or get a chance, to write for any of the magazines that I grew up reading. But starting this website has led to some great opportunities. I wrote for Beckett Hockey Magazine in 2008-09 and again in 2013-14. I have also been a writer for The Hockey News starting in 2011. Plus, I wrote for some publications that have either went under or that you’ve never heard of — or both.
Since starting Puck Junk, I’ve expanded my reach. I love collecting hockey cards, yet tried to be more than just another “sports card blogger.” I’ve interviewed current NHL players, retired legends, former team owners, Hollywood directors and even the CEO of a major sports network. But I will still happily write 1,000+ words about a set of hockey cards from the 1990s, or some terrible-looking old O-Pee-Chee card.
Journalism is a tough nut to crack. The established players are constantly making cutbacks; some of the big boys cannot even afford freelance writers anymore. Meanwhile, the internet is bursting at the seams with more freelance content than one person can read in a lifetime — much of it provided by people who write (poorly) for free just to be read. That’s fine — I don’t pay myself to write for this site — but it makes it harder for me to carve out a career, get noticed, build a following, get freelance work, make a living…and find the motivation to continue this path.
As obvious as it sounds, getting freelance writing assignments wouldn’t have been possible unless I started this site. Having a website forced me to write regularly, which gave me a body of work, which gave me a stepping stone to other work. Professionals like Al Muir, Eric Jahnke, Susan Lulgjuraj and Edward Fraser all gave me a shot to write for them, and for that I will always be grateful.
But enough about me. None of this would have been possible without you. One does creative work because it fulfills an inner need, but having others experience the work validates that creativity.
This is why many musicians love to play music for an audience, or why artists love it when their creative work is on display for others to see.
Writers love to write because it is an activity we enjoy, but we also want people to actually read what we write.
I don’t know who the first person was to read an article on Puck Junk, but the first person to leave a comment was Al Kawamoto in late 2007. Thank you, Al. Knowing that someone out there was reading my words a few months after this site launched inspired me to keep going.
Other bloggers have given me a positive push along the way too: Shane, Dave H., Brett (the Ovechkin to my Crosby), Captain Canuck, Paul, Sebasiten, Sheng Peng, Kin Kinsley, and numerous others that I’m probably forgetting. You have all either encouraged me, inspired me, helped me with an article or project, traded cards with me, or just flat-out given me something for my collection out of the kindness of your heart.
Thanks to writing, I have also gotten to know some local bloggers very well in person: Justin G. and Tim Parish, a.k.a. The Real DFG, a.k.a. the co-host of the Puck Junk Podcast. I am better for knowing these two gentlemen, who have many times helped me with something I was working on, and made collecting cards particularly fun again. The three of us, along with Puck Junk reader Nick B., meet up at a card show every few months, hang out for a while, and give each other piles of hockey cards from each others’ want lists. No haggling or keeping track — just collectors enjoying their hobby together and helping each other out.
I also must thank some of the people who have contributed to Puck Junk as writers or artists: Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard, Thom Racine, Steve Galvao, and my girlfriend Shellie Lewis — who contributes a cartoon every now and then, but always has to put up with my hobby.
Finally, thank you to anyone who reads this site. Every time I get a bump in traffic, it motivates me to keep skating forward.
I think I have stuck with writing about hockey, hockey cards, collectibles and culture over the past decade because that is such a myriad of topics that I will never get bored, nor will I run out of things to say. So while the first ten years may have seemed unlikely from the start, another ten years is a goal that I will try my hardest to reach.
Writing may be a solo pursiut, but only with the help of others can it succeed. And for that I thank you.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■