Friday, March 13, 2009

Know Your Blogger: Earl Sleek

Hey, remember the Chronicle's famous "Know Your Blogger" feature? The one where we try to get inside the minds of the world's greatest hockey bloggers and learn their most intimate thoughts on the NHL and try to discover what else they might enjoy besides the Hockey?

Neither do I, but here's an interview with the incomparable Earl Sleek of the Battle of California, one of your editor's favorite blogs in all of human history:

Why do you blog about hockey?
When I first stumbled on hockey blogs a few years ago, I was heavily impressed by the amount of analysis and thought that was being put forth from a fan's perspective -- it was refreshing and relatable in a way I hadn't encountered before. For the most part, these were Oilers blogs, and when Battle of California started up and needed a Ducks voice, I signed on to give it a go. I've always had two aims at BoC -- first to demonstrate that knowledgeable hockey fans do exist in SoCal, particularly for the Ducks, and secondly just to promote the notion of entertaining hockey blogging. BoC has provided a nice outlet to be creative, analytical, or silly, depending on whim, and it's been a great way to meet and talk with other hockey fans -- hockey conversations can be a real scarcity in California.

What's your favorite hockey team? How long have you been a fan, any key experiences/memories with the team, etc. etc.
My favorite team is the Anaheim Ducks, formerly known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and I've been a fan since the late 90s. I'm sort of an NHL-expansion success story -- I've never really played hockey, nor did anyone in my family follow it, but I became a hockey fan through repeated exposure to SNES NHL 94 in college. Being from Orange County, I latched onto the Mighty Ducks and absolutely fell in love with the play of Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. The favorite memory I have of the team is probably the 2007 Cup, but I'm quite fond of the 2003 run to the Stanley Cup Finals also -- that was really the magical run, and it was really at that point that I stopped watching any other sport.

Favorite hockey player of all time? (we'll accept up to a 3-way tie here)
Well, I've had a few. For my first formative years as a fan, my favorite player was Tomas Sandstrom, largely because he was a killer for me in the aforementioned NHL 94, and even played a couple years on the Mighty Ducks. After that, I went to Teemu Selanne, and for the past six or so years it's squarely been Sammy Pahlsson. Pahlsson's attention to detail and overall solid play, plus the way he quietly does his job -- he's awesome.

Favorite current NHL player? (ditto)
Sammy Pahlsson. GM Murray, re-sign him now.*

Would you consider yourself a fan of other sports? If so, which ones? Favorite teams in those sports?
I am horrible at following other sports -- I watch about two baseball games a year, zero basketball games, and zero football games. During the NHL lockout, I did get a bit into bull riding, but that passed pretty quickly. Those silly cowboys can take a hit, though.

What's the biggest problem with today's NHL?
The relative ease with which the owners and players can forego a year of hockey to figure out how best to split up my dollar.

Is there any hockey-related issue about which you've changed your mind? For example: Visors, the instigator rule, the merits of this or that player, etc.
I once liked the New Jersey Devils and hated Chris Pronger -- does that count? Heh, I think one area I've come around is the value of the player interview -- I once thought those were interesting.

What are your favorite hockey blogs?
My favorite writers on the internet are probably Matt Fenwick from Battle of Alberta, Tom Benjamin from Canucks Corner, and Rudy Kelly from BoC, all for different reasons. If I were stranded on a desert island with only access to these bloggers (plus Kukla's and Mirtle to keep me up on news), I'd be fairly content.

Favorite music?
I'm a pretty big fan of classical and choral music -- Bach, Beethoven, Handel are still phenomenal. In terms of musicians still alive, I like Cake. **

Favorite movies?
I have a weird set of movie tastes -- Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in The In-Laws, Dark City, and Miyzaki's Spirited Away. Among others.

I've not been doing a lot of book-reading since college, really.

I've got a few favorite shows, some of which haven't run in a long while. "The A-Team" is one of my absolute favorites -- the best formula show on television. Plus I was a big fan of HBO's sketch show "Mr. Show", and am still miffed that it got run off the air. Other than that, there are some pretty common shows I was into -- "Seinfeld", "the Simpsons", "South Park", etc., plus when the Ducks got eliminated early last spring I put myself through a whirlwind tour of SciFi's "Battlestar Galactica", which is downright awesome.

Who do you think is the most underrated player in the NHL?
Tough to say, but a few years ago it would have been Sammy Pahlsson. Now I dunno -- it's a toss up between L.A.'s Sean O'Donnell or Dallas' Loui Eriksson, but it all depends on who's doing the rating.

*So sad to be rendered impossible by events.

**A cultivated man blogging about the Hockey! We like it.

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