Jason Botchford had an unmatched passion for hockey, journalism, and the dialogue surrounding both of those.
Prior to joining the Canucks media landscape, I looked up to Jason as someone in the industry. His work ethic, dedication to the craft, and charisma was evident from the outside and became even more apparent when spending more time with him over the past few years.
If there was a story to be had, Jason was on it and was going to do everything he could to do that story the best he could. It wasn't always the obvious storylines either, as he had an innate ability to get the conversation going on any topic and draw people into it. Before you knew it, some idea that was brought up on twitter became the talk of the town.
He was regularly regarded as the voice of the fans and he was right in the thick of the conversation on social media.
Many people knew Jason for that larger than life personality, he could definitely command a room during a fan event, but it was the little things behind that scenes that made the biggest impact on so many people.
So many people within the Vancouver media, myself included, had their careers positively impacted by Jason. He was someone that was always in your corner - pushing you, motivating you, or simply making you feel like you belonged. It was usually something small like a message asking for your opinion or including one of your points in his infamous post game Athletties but it helped so many.
The Vancouver blogging market is a completely different scene than other markets in the NHL and Jason recognized that better than anyone else. Botchford embraced the varying views and used them to push the conversation further. The end game for everyone might've been slightly different but Jason realized that talent in the landscape and used that to create debate.
It wasn't surface level interest either, Jason genuinely wanted to learn about every angle presented to him. He spoke at the very first Vancouver Hockey Analytics conference at SFU about everything to do with media and advanced stats. It was clear that he realized that as journalist with a traditional path to covering sports that embracing the new stats and ways to analyze things, it would only make his existing base of work better.
It was intimidating coming into the business as a newcomer, but Botch made that transition infinitely easier through all the ways mentioned. Many of us wouldn't be where we are today without the support that Botchford provided.
At the time, it didn't feel like that much but looking back, it's easy to see how much of an impact Jason made and how his little actions each day gave people the confidence to keep pushing.
The Botchford Project is such a fantastic legacy for someone who had inspired and motivated so many. The group that was pushed and mentored by Jason get an opportunity to step up and lend a hand to the next wave of people looking for a chance to showcase their work.
It might simply be a familiar face to say hello to, or someone helping out with how to get around the rink but those small acts can make a big difference in the long run.