Welcome To Backhand Shelf


I’m so excited to write the intro for our new site that I’ve already blown it by not writing a good opening sentence. Curses.

Let’s try this again:

Welcome to theScore’s brand spankin’ new hockey blog “Backhand Shelf.”

Frans Neilsen: kind of the Godfather when it comes to going backhand shelf.

I’m your new web editor Justin Bourne – formerly a contributor to Yahoo’s “Puck Daddy” blog, The Hockey News, USA Today, Hockey Primetime and Bourne’s Blog. Also, formerly of actual ice surfaces, where I chased the dream for parts of three professional seasons between the ECHL and AHL (with one NHL tryout), four years of NCAA hockey, and a couple go-rounds in the BCHL.

I’ll spare you my story and move on to the site – if you’d like to know more about who I am, you can read my tale from the rink to the blogosphere here, or a story on my Islanders family heritage here.

The lovely new site you’re on is called Backhand Shelf for a number of reasons: for starters, my tone can occasionally come off as little backhanded. As an example, I’m planning on running a Monday morning feature called “Weekend WTF” where I find awful hockey plays from the weekend and tear them apart in text form. It’ll be like the NFL’s “C’mon Man,” only slightly less grating (I hope).

Secondly, “shelf” is hockey slang for “top shelf,” which implies quality (not many people score under a goalie’s arm then explain they went “mid-shelf”). Whether the quality thing turns out to be true or not, you can let us know. In fact, we want you to let us know – what you love, what you hate and what you want more of.

Backhand Shelf is a place for all of us who love hockey. It’s a slice of life in the dressing room, like the way two stallmates BS about a shift in the last period. (Please note the initials from the site, BS, also happen to mesh perfectly).

For that to happen, we need you to make it fun – and funny. To keep it intelligent. To create a community. For those of you who used to read Bourne’s Blog before I started violently neglecting it, you know that I participate in the comments and encourage regular readers to trade ideas and snappy comebacks without the usual internet message board type filth.

My teammates on the blog here are a fantastic mix of writers, all of whom I personally enjoy. A rundown of who you’ll be reading:

Cam Charron: Contributes to SB Nation, the CIS blog, Leafs Nation, Nucks Misconduct, The Hockey Writers and more. Dude is a young buck from Kamloops who can write, knows that fancy advanced stat stuff, and is just generally good.

Ryan Lambert: Established freelance hockey opinionist who writes for Puck Daddy and periodically does a mildly entertaining podcast with me. If you have a sense of humour, you’ll love him. If you don’t, you’ll click our site every time he writes to find out what That Guy Who Hates Your Team wrote this week.

Rob Pizzo: Pizzo is going to be a fixture with theScore this year, putting his pretty little mug on camera, his voice on a podcast (with me!) and his words on this site. Every morning he’s going to drop his hockey thoughts, link to the best stories of the day, and occasionally drop us a “Pizzo’s Points” video, which are always beautifully done.

Daniel Wagner: Our friend comprises 50% of the skyrocketingly (yep, that’s a word) successful Vancouver Canucks blog Pass It To Bulis. Nobody knows why they want Bulis to get the puck so much. They’re skyrocketingly (still) successful because they’re damn good at what they do. Dudes are in high demand these days.

Jo Innes: This was a sneaky-good pick-up, for which I pat myself on the back in public right now. Jo is in medical school, a hockey fan, and a good writer. Therefore, she’s going to be doing bi-weekly injury breakdowns, explaining who’s hurt, what’s happened medically, how you rehab that, etc. Her own blog, Puck That Hurts, is a must-check-out.

Heather Galindo AKA Ms. Conduct: I’m a long-time fan of the aptly-named Ms. Conduct, whose obsession with netminders often materializes in what she calls “goalie porn” (mostly pictures of goalies stretching). She knows the AHL inside and out, is funny and often profane, and plays rec as a ’tender. If this were The Daily Show, she’d be the Senior Goalie Porn and AHL Hockey and Rec Hockey Correspondent.

We’ll also be sporting periodic contributions from Bloge Salming and Down Goes Brown (yep, we get their videos. BOOM), Sean Gentille (Sporting News), Scott Lewis (theScore’s Houses of the Hockey) and Neil Corbett (Bourne’s Blog).

I’d say that’s fairly well-placed.

I think you’ll be in pretty good hands.

That’s a lot of names, but in general, I’ll be the bulk of every day, providing you with all the pucktertainment I can.

Before you leave this site and bookmark it and favourite it and add it to your RSS feed and tell your friends about it on Facebook, a quick rundown of some of the fun stuff you’ll be seeing from me:

*Systems Analysis –We want this to be like a coach’s video session. I’ll occasionally break down team’s systems in the larger picture, but mostly dissect certain plays and rotations that went awry (or flawlessly) during a given game. As a former player, coaches said I “thought” the game well. For those who love to think technically about the game and those who want to learn more, this is the place for you.

*The Hockey Cliché Translator – guys lie in interviews to keep their life easy, and all of us know it. It’s borderline offensive to have a guy look into the camera and deadpan some half-truth. I’ll explain – okay, totally guess at – what they actually mean, just because it’s fun.

*That Rec Hockey Teammate – ah, the characters in a rec hockey dressing room. Let’s make fun of them together.

*Reader Comment of the Week – because, shockingly, a lot of hockey fans are actually really funny and really smart, and those things are better than “TEH BLACKHAWKS SUCK LOSER LOLLL.” (And if you do post something like that, rest assured that I and Backhand Shelf readers will make fun of you.)

*And like I said before, The Weekend WTF, which I’m way too excited about.

With our staff’s ample supply of snark and a forum for which to display it, I figure Backhand Shelf will be a good time – I hope you do too.

Now remember to keep on checking back. To get the job I had to agree to something like 46,000 posts per hour, so the next one should be up in a jiffy (which according to Wikipedia is 33.3564 picoseconds. I’m guessing one of those has already passed, so sorry about lying to you this early in our relationship).

It should be a hell of a year. Let’s have some fun.