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Botch's Impact

...how Jason Botchford changed everything in Vancouver

by Chris Faber @ChrisFaber39 / Freelance writer

The Vancouver Canucks are going the other way this season.

That is exactly what Jason Botchford wanted. The team is on track to make the playoffs this year for the first time since 2015.

The Canucks went out and made huge moves to acquire players like J.T. Miller at the draft and Tyler Myers in free agency. To bolster the line-up even more, they recently went out and traded for one of the top available players at the deadline in Tyler Toffoli. 

Three players that so many fans wanted to hear Jason rant about on the Pat-Cast with his buddy Jeff Paterson.

Jason Botchford was simply the best.

When I began to write about the Vancouver Canucks, I would try to emulate the same tone that he had when writing about this team.

Jason was informative, fun and consistently produced must read articles.

I was simply trying to shoot for one of the three with my own articles.

He included his followers in much of his work. His Twitter followers always had a smile on their face the next day after being included in the Provies or Athletties.

Jason's postgames were a work of art. They had storylines that ran on for years, he made those articles become must read material because if you didn't read it you would fall behind. If you missed a few of his postgame's you would end up being lost without knowing some of the inside jokes.

He was pretty much writing a novel about the Canucks season, influenced by the fans and fine-tuned by himself.

Jason Botchford has changed the media landscape in Vancouver. He's lifted some of the top content creators in Vancouver and inspired others to be the best they could be.

Harman Dayal is the perfect example. Harman is a contributor to The Athletic and a big reason for that is Jason Botchford.

"I really can't say enough about how much he helped me on my way up. I essentially went from a nobody to a guy that had a voice in this marketplace. A huge reason for that was because of the support that Botch gave me," said Dayal

That generosity and willingness to help other may have come from those who helped him rise to the top of the industry. One of those people was a BC Sports Hall of Fame journalist named Tony Gallagher.

Gallagher was a long-time sports journalist in Vancouver and lent out a much-needed hand to Jason when he arrived on the media scene in Vancouver.

"He came in with such confidence. He came in with such knowledge, such an understanding of the business. Something that's really hard to do is to hit this market running. He just came right in and was right at right home."

Jason even kept Gallagher going at the end of his career, proving that Botch would help anybody if they had a passion for their work.

"I think that towards the end of my career (Jason) really helped kind of carry me along and keep me semi interested. It's a great relationship and I just, I miss him horribly."

Gallagher realized Jason was on to something when he began going online with his postgames.

"He was the best around and when J started the Provies he took it to a whole new level," said Gallagher

His Provies/Athletties postgame's changed the way that writers would construct a postgame recap. Wyatt Arndt is a contributor for the Athletic and was Jason's back-up man for the Athletties last season.

"When Botch hit his prime with the Provies they became must read. That's when you saw people saying I'm not going to bed until I read the Provies," said Arndt

"Part of his legacy was how he got everyone involved. He didn't just make it about hockey, he made it about everything. You wanted to feel like Botchford listened to you and you wanted to be a part of the club."

Arndt also talked about how Tony Gallagher was such a big help for Jason's transition into this market.

"The Legacy of Tony Gallagher was passed on to Jason Botchford and Jason passed it on to others. If you wanted to write or get into sports and you had a passion for it. He would help you as far as he could and if he found out you didn't love it; he'd be like well go chase your passion then. He was all about making sure you did what you wanted to do."

Jason was always engaging with fans. Mostly through replies and direct messages on Twitter. He was also kind to fans of his when they would run into him on the street. He even had time to do a 30 minutes interview with any podcasters that would request his presence to liven things up on their show.

I think it's safe to say that Botch was most known for his writing. To me, his audio work was just as good, if not better. It didn't matter if it was 20 minutes of yelling at Halford & Brough on the radio or an hour with Jeff Paterson on their podcast.

Jason was electric when the recording light was on.

I asked Jeff Paterson about what recording the Pat-cast was like.

"It was one of the highlights of my work week. He was always ahead of the curve. His showmanship stuck out. He had all the knowledge to do the job but it's about what he did with that knowledge. He had the flair and his soundbites continue to live on."

Jeff also talked about what life has been like since Jason's passing.

"Since his passing, I realize how much he meant to me. There are so many moments on the road where I catch myself and need to take a moment to realize how much I miss him now. I didn't see it at the time, I just saw us as two guys who covered the Canucks and liked to have fun on the podcast. I miss him every day, there's so much in this job that reminds me of him. Travel this year has been so different. Every city I can think of either a place we had gone, a place we had recorded the podcast or something that we had done or seen. It's just a constant reminder that he's gone and how much I miss him."

Whether it was his podcast partner, his co-workers at The Athletic or his readers that would consistently refresh their feeds at 1am to read that night's Athletties. He had us all hooked on him and his Canucks content.

We are lucky to have a fanbase in Vancouver that is so passionate about their local hockey team. Canucks fans are the best fans and it shows with the interactions on social media. The fans truly care about this team, sometimes they care too much.

Jason was aware of this. It was likely why he wanted to include the fanbase in so much of his work.

Tweet from @botchford: Canuck twitter is coming for everyone lol.Godspeed NHL if this team ever gets good

Vancouver Canucks fans aren't just a sleeping giant. They are passionate fanatics that crave a Stanley Cup more than any other team in the NHL. With Botch looking down on this team now I always wonder what he would have been reporting about this year.

J.T. Miller's incredible start in Vancouver, the team making a big trade for Tyler Toffoli before the deadline or Phoebe not winning the Canucks' Top Dog race. One thing he would have certainly been writing about is how "The Alien" Elias Pettersson is dealing with the added attention during his sophomore season.

Elias Pettersson got a lot of support early on from Jason Botchford. Botch was fuming at other media members during Pettersson's first training camp when they wouldn't stop asking Pettersson about his weight.

Tweet from @botchford: anyone still worried about pettersson's weight?

Pettersson enjoyed the work that Botch did, he always had his back and that's a relationship we don't often see between a media member and a player.

Botch knew that Pettersson was going to be a superstar. He let it be known very early on.

"He was always good to me. He said I was going to save the franchise."

"It was a lot of pressure," Pettersson laughed.

Pettersson mentioned Jason Botchford in his acceptance speech when he received the Calder Trophy.

Tweet from @BradyTrett: Classy move by Elias Pettersson to pay tribute to the late Jason Botchford during his Calder Trophy speech pic.twitter.com/ktRdkIZQHI

I asked Pettersson why he wanted to talk about Jason Botchford when he received his Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. A night where Pettersson was being recognized in front of the hockey world for one of the greatest achievements of his hockey career.

"He always talked good about me, he said I was the guy. Then you hear the news about what happened, so I felt like I wanted to mention his name because he was a really good reporter."

Elias Pettersson wasn't the only Canucks player that was emotional about the loss of Jason. Many of the Canucks were stunned by the news of Jason's passing. Including some of the players he spoke to the most.

"It was a huge shock, you talk to him at year end and it was just a huge shock, he always looked happy and healthy. It was a sad day for all of us, I dealt with him for 4 or 5 years, he's done a great job with the young writers and reporters by mentoring them, he's definitely left a legacy behind," said Bo Horvat.

"It was probably the same as (the fans), we were devastated, you feel for his family, it was very tragic. He was strong in his beliefs and he asked hard questions. My parents read his work a lot and they said he was an advocate of mine," said Troy Stecher.

"Everyone was shocked, me and Brock were texting each other about what happened, and it was so devastating. We work different jobs but they cover us, we work with them every day, you see them every day and then he's gone. It's so sad because he has a wife and three kids. I would read some of his stuff, I don't know much about how to write a report or article, but I liked his." said Pettersson.

Jason may be gone but his legacy lives on through all of us. From the players to the fans, the podcasters to the bloggers, even management to the radio hosts. Jason left an impact on every single one of us.

For me, he changed everything. He made me move from my hometown over here to Vancouver to pursue my dream of working in sports media. He's inspired myself and countless others to be better to one another and not to let anything hold you back from reaching your goals.

This year the Canucks have been playing with a Botchford mentality. They are shocking the league and leaving a smile on Canucks fans' faces.

Two things that Botch always did and will continue to do.

Elias Pettersson may have changed the franchise but Jason Botchford changed the way that media members will cover it. He wanted playoffs so bad for this team. He knew this young core was about to turn the corner as it has this season.

I hope he's looking down today with a smile.

Jason will not be forgotten. His impact around this organization will live on forever. He will be the first person many of us think of when this team hoists the Stanley Cup.

"It's with guys like him that allows a city to dream of better days too."
-Jason Botchford.

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