My name is Shawn Hutcheon and I am your new NHL/NCAA Hockey Writer here at ESPN New Hampshire.
I’d like to start my first blog by saying thank you to ESPN New Hampshire’s Digital Content Editor Michael Grinnell and everyone at ESPNNH for the opportunity to become part of the ESPN family. It is truly an honor.
Next, I’d like to introduce myself to those of you who are asking, “Who the heck is Shawn Hutcheon?”
I’ve been involved in hockey as a player, coach, referee, and media member for a long time, a very long time. How long? Well, probably longer than many of you have been alive. Maybe even longer than some of your parents have been alive, but before you click off from this page and move on to the next, I promise I won’t bore you with the “Back in my day…” rants, well, at least, I promise to keep it to a minimum.
I was introduced to hockey by my dad, Walter “Hutch” Hutcheon, when I was around four years old and, like many of you, fell in love with the game right away. I couldn’t wait to get my feet in a pair of skates and play just like the men on TV. There was one problem, local ice rinks were few and far between in Southern California in the 1960’s so I learned to play on roller skates on the backyard patio with a tennis ball and stick my uncle made for me.
Four years later, the family moved to Massachusetts, where mom (Barbara) and dad were originally from. I got my first pair of ice skates on Christmas Day at the age of eight. It was the best Christmas gift a boy, who loved the game of hockey, could ever receive. The next day I was on the ice in my neighbor’s backyard skating just like Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and Derek Sanderson. Ok, maybe it was more like Bambi when he scrambled onto the ice but I thought I was a natural.
As the years passed, I progressed to playing high school, junior, and college hockey. I loved every minute of it, including the bumps, bruises, and knee surgeries. I still have all my teeth, however.
I became a referee during high school and over the years, progressed through the USA Hockey ranks and became a licensed linesman with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) which allowed me to officiate international tournaments. Being on the ice with players such as Lindros, Tkachuk, Drury, Guerin, Bure, Kasparaitis, and Selanne, was an experience I’ll never forget.
Coaching was something I thought about doing when I played and during college, I was asked to become an assistant coach with a junior team in Fitchburg, Massachusetts by former Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens defenseman, Don Awrey.
In two years of coaching with Don, I learned more about the game than I had during my entire life. Listening to the stories of his career playing alongside Orr and winning two Stanley Cups and the drama that was the 1972 Summit Series was amazing.
I still coach today, after coaching my son, Jon, and his teams while he grew up, I had the incredible experience of coaching with him and Kyle Heagney, when we reach the pinnacle of the sport in 2013 as the team we guided, the 18-Under Neponset Valley River Rats won the USA Hockey Tier I National Championship.
Now, my son and I coach with the Boston Jr. Rangers organization and expect to repeat that experience in the not too distant future.
My career as a sports journalist began six years ago with the Billerica Green. A publication that covered news and events around the town of Billerica, Massachusetts. My first piece for “The Green” was writing about Billerica’s two Olympic hockey players, Mike Mastrullo (1984 Team Italy) and Bobby Miller (1972 Team USA).
During the next year, I began writing about the NHL and the Boston Bruins for various websites.
Five years ago, I was brought on board to be the Boston Correspondent with The Fourth Period Magazine, which is based in Toronto and covers all things NHL. Covering the Boston Bruins has been a phenomenal experience for a kid who grew up in a hockey crazy suburb of Boston. Whether they agree or disagree with something I write, or say, the organization and its players are first class in every way.
My association as a college hockey writer began three years ago when I became the UMass Lowell beat writer for The Lowell Sun newspaper. The River Hawks have become a national power during that time and expectations are high but not unrealistic and this season, they are true contenders for the national championship.
And so, here we are. Along the way, I’ve made so many friends because of the sport of hockey. I can honestly say that hockey has been very, very good to me. Heck, even my kids are a result of my getting involved in the game because their mother and I met in a rink.
I wish I could list all of those, who have influenced me along the way but the list is a very long one. I will, however, list one friend, Thomas Stevenson.
Thomas and his family are huge hockey fans and, this year, became members of the Boston Jr. Rangers family. Thomas is the honorary captain of our 18U team. He is just six years old and has battled leukemia for the past two years. I’m very happy to say that he is winning his battle.
Earlier this season, Thomas and his dad, Ken, told us about Thomas’ motto, which is “Try your best.” They cut down a hockey stick, taped a photo of Thomas posing with the Jr. Rangers team onto the stick’s blade wrote “Try your best” and presented it to the team. Naturally, Thomas autographed it and it is given to the player or players, who go above and beyond their abilities in winning efforts.
I bring that up because everyone time I sit down to write an article or a blog, I think of Thomas and I try my best to inform, educate, and entertain, the readers.
As I mentioned earlier, it is an honor to be a part of ESPNNH and I will always try my best for them and for you.
Follow Shawn on Twitter. His handle is @ShawnHutcheon