Russo: Introducing Joe Smith and the Future of Wild Coverage in The Athletic

Joe Smith loves adventure.

Every year, he and his comrades throw an arrow at a map of the United States, blindfolded. Wherever the arrows go, this is their destination for the following summer. They made lifelong memories in Lake Powell, Utah, Champaign, Illinois, Santa Fe, OneM and even Winnebago, Minnesota.

This summer, I was the one who uploaded the map for Joe, but I just cunningly made it a map for Minnesota instead of the United States

I’m sneaky like that, and it works because Joe is on his way to Minnesota, this time permanently, as he and his lovely wife Caitlin uproot their lives and careers from the Florida Gulf Coast to Twin Cities.

If you’re a Wild fan, you know this was a long way from your favorite team. So trust me when I say that the biggest acquisition by far in Minnesota hockey circles has been Joe Smith.

Photo courtesy of Joe Smith

Wild fans, you’re about to get really spoiled, with the arrival of one the athletes The best sports writers and storytellers, someone John Cooper wrote all, Nikita KucherovAnd the Victor Hedman And the Stephen Stamkos Imaginable feature, someone who can explain to Wild fans exactly how the effect is Gift Wild The Tampa Bay Lightning Brayden Point during the 2014 draft.

As many of you know by now because I’ve been teasing it for weeks, thank you so much and how successful you are in making Minnesota beat in the athleteOur company has made the incredible decision to partner with one of our most talented and seasoned hockey writers and a double team from The Wild.

Not only will Joe and I cover the wilderness like gloves, but we’ll also reinforce Athletic National coverage. Part of that is releasing later this month when I’m going to be hosting the athlete hockey show Every Wednesday with Jesse Granger and Rob Pizzo.

Why does Minnesota deserve such a big bump in coverage?

It’s top NHL Market the athlete for some reason. The net number of hockey fans not only in the Twin Cities, but in the entire state, is huge. Your passion is clear. Your interest in the wilderness and the entire league is insatiable. We can see it in the subscriber count and the discourse in the comments sections of the stories. Heck, you’re so interested the athlete, when I tweeted a few weeks ago that we were about to expand Wild’s coverage with “one of the best hockey writers in the world,” many of you expected to come. Only hockey fans in Minnesota will be able to get the names of every local NHL writer off the top of their heads.

People often read articles and glance at the byline. Not in Minnesota, where many of our talented writers are household names.

When I think of the great hockey writers I have long respected and admired, Joe ranks high on my list. If you listen to my Podcast with him during the Eastern Conference FinalYou sure know how great I think Joe is.

Many sportsbooks can provide the quantity. But all of us are in the athlete Marvel at Joe’s ability to deliver consistent quality and quantity as well.

One second, he’s on the phone with Bill Guerin receiving tales of a Julian Presboa Profile. Next time, he was on the phone at Tampa Airport with John Tortorella to get some insight into how to use Columbus Blue Jackets “Create a Monster” When they swept the 2019 Presidents Cup winning Lightning.

After that conversation, Joe and I boarded a flight from Tampa to LaGuardia. He sat in the middle seat in the front row. When I’m in a coach, let alone in the middle seat, I usually text my editor that I won’t feel comfortable enough to write on that particular flight.

Not Joe.

He had no idea that I was right behind him. An hour into the flight, he texted me asking if I had read the Torts-on-the-Lightning story to provide some feedback. I just couldn’t believe he finished it so quickly, but read as if he had been reporting on it for weeks.

This is one of his many strengths.

If you want to read some of Joe’s greatest songs, here are some of them: Live the life of a scoutAnd the How lightning was coined by Andrei VasilevskyAnd the Kocherov revealedAnd the One of his many profiles on CooperAnd the Profile at the Swedish hockey factory “Ovik”, Training the Titans to explain “Culture”. Then there was a time he left his pen and tape recorder and actually participated in Lightning Strong Man with Strength and Conditioning TrainerSomething you wouldn’t surprise me with for a story.

This will be my 18th season covering Wild, but having two veteran writers with unique styles and skill sets can only better serve this passionate audience for which we have the privilege of writing.

Joe has dated two Stanley Cup Cups, four trips to the Cup Final and six Eastern Conference Finals.

Apparently, all those long and grueling summer playoffs, Stanley Cup rallies and Cup parties, made him dream about what it would be like to cover permanent first-round exits.


In all seriousness, you’ll love our enhanced coverage of Wild. Having two writers in home games means that popular players are not going anywhere while also creating the opportunity for one writer to focus on a story with a bigger picture, one for the next day, around the opponent, or to host a room right after a match.

The second writer will be of great value on many occasions. I really felt it when Kevin Viala It was traded this summer. I wrote a MEATY story, but we could really use a second person to evaluate with a column.

My only fear? All of you, who have treated me incredibly well and have always shown unparalleled support and respect, will now realize that I have long been overrated.

My only pain with Joe? He does not drink coffee.

I mean, what sports writer on Earth doesn’t drink coffee?

By the way, Joe grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan – a suburb of Detroit, which Joe will soon discover is not the real “Hockeytown”.

As we all know, this is Warroad.

But because of where he belongs, Joe developed his passion for hockey from an early age. He knew he wanted to pursue sports writing as a career when he was a student at the University of Michigan when he worked for The Michigan Daily. Covering Red Berenson and the Wolverines sparked his interest in storytelling and overwriting.

Joe spent his summer working at Raleigh News & Observer before working a little more than two years at The Modesto Bee in California, covering everything from high school sports to minor league baseball to rodeo.

But most of his career Joe has spent in Tampa, where he has been Lightning’s primary percussion writer for the past eight years, including the past four. the athlete.

Joe and Kaitlyn — another Midwest and former journalist — have been married for four years. They love to travel, take long walks, and sing karaoke. In fact, Joe is known in hockey circles for his soft songs and stage presence. The “Joe Smith World Tour” karaoke is now in 54 cities after recent outings in Stockholm, Sweden, Turku and Helsinki, Finland. He’s done karaoke from Kauai to Kyoto to Kansas City, so if you walk into a karaoke bar in the Twin Cities and hear someone singing Jesse Girl, it might be Joe.

Joe and Caitlin also love spoiling their 4-year-old dog Sami, so much that Sami will hang out with me sometimes when Joe is on a wild ride.

This dog is about to gain some weight with the number of treats I give him.

I also vowed during Joe’s agonizing decision process that if he agreed to be friends with me here in Minnesota, I would buy him and his wife their first winter jackets.

I’m a man of my word, and two jackets are currently on the bed in my extra bedroom, where they’ll stay Sept 24-27 while they’re looking for a home, see Caitlin’s favorite band, Gaslight Anthem, at Fillmore (you’ll be a fan of Trampled Turtles soon enough) and maybe Participate in the opening of the exhibition Wild against Avalanche.

excited atmosphere. I’m excited. It must be too.

Our wild and national coverage, of which I’ve been so proud for so long, will be off the charts.

I’m mostly excited because working so closely with me for a month straight in June somehow didn’t cause Joe to pass up the chance the first he got. I think this is indicative of our great colleagues that we will be together.

The dream team, of sorts, covers the Minnesota Wild and the NHL as a whole.

The first darts trip that Joe took with his friends was actually to Winnebago, a small town just a few hours from the Twin Cities. They arrived and naturally went to one tavern in town, the Steel Wheel.

Unsurprisingly, within a few minutes, after briefly noting that Joe covered hockey, the bartender asked, “What do you think of the wild this year?”

Joe discovered in Minnesota that there are hockey fans everywhere. And that’s why he’s here.

Joe and his wife will be arriving full-time early next month, with Joe getting rock ‘n’ rollin right before opening night. So, please, give him a follow on Tweet embed On Twitter, greet him warmly and make him feel at home in the same way as the last “Florida” hockey writer to arrive in the Twin Cities 17 years ago.

(Top photo: Brad Rimple/USA Today)