EPISODE 5: Hailey Salvian of The Athletic / A Story of John Spano


Hailey Salvian is a rising star in sports media. After two seasons covering the Ottawa Senators for The Athletic, she’s now in her second season in Calgary on the Flames beat. Hailey has already shown great versatility; besides her writing, she appears regularly on TV and radio and is a fixture on The Athletic’s hockey podcasts.


I knew Hailey would be an outstanding guest, as I’ve gotten to know her a bit over the last few years because she also covers women’s hockey, and I used to do PR for the NWHL. One of the many things that’s awesome about Hailey is that she told me she welcomed addressing every topic, including some of the awfulness she gets on social media. Her experiences, and how she’s learned to deal with them or ignore them, could be useful to listeners.


Another highlight is when Hailey takes us on a step-by-step look back at her process in writing one of her excellent feature stories. This interview details a young reporter’s journey from college and internships to the NHL beat for a major media outlet, and it’s the kind of thing I hoped for when we started Hockey Press Pass. My thanks to Hailey.

The podcast ends with a question from a listener about the first time I started to think maybe John Spano wasn’t the extremely wealthy guy he wanted the NHL and the banks to think he was when he was buying the Islanders in the mid-‘90s. Everyone around the team back then had their moments. For me, it was a minor request from him, but it seemed so odd. For the full Spano story, check out Kevin Connolly’s masterful ESPN 30-for-30 documentary, “Big Shot.”


Next week’s Press Pass episode is with Kelly Hrudey of Hockey Night in Canada. Really excited for that one. After Ray Ferraro and Howie Rose brought a great New York feel to the launch of the podcast, I’m equally proud of this run of Craig Button to Frank Seravalli to Hailey Salvian to Kelly – four people who in different ways make their mark on coverage of the NHL.


And if all goes to plan – a big IF – producer Pat Boyle and I could have a bonus Islanders episode this week. The working concept is that, every once in a while, we look at the Islanders’ attempt to win the Stanley Cup this season. According to the experts, they are one of the favorites, you know. The Islanders shows would be mostly on the current team, with some occasional anecdotes and views on the past.


Episode 5 Rundown:

· Hailey reveals the three most interesting hockey people she has interviewed so far

· Hailey and the Athletic’s approach to covering a team beat and making the subscription fee a good value for readers

· Working the Ottawa Senators beat, and now the Calgary Flames

· Lessons learned from an internship in the news division of CBC

· How the skills of asking police departments good questions translated to good work in the NHL

· The importance of “doing your research”

· While covering a team, developing a network of trustworthy sources

· Learning to deal with criticism – and at least in one case, over-the-top awfulness – on social media

· Hailey takes us through the reporting process of one of her favorite articles to write

· A roll call of people who have provided great counsel and support in this early stage of her career


· Chris responds to a question from Andre in Quebec about the experience of working with John Spano, who went to jail for trying to buy the Islanders without money.