When I first started this sports writing thing back in 1983, my natural voice was to talk to the fans.
What did you want to know?
What questions would you want asked?
What were you talking about on the car ride home from the game?
It seemed like the best way to approach the storytelling process. And, quite honestly, I think it's more important now than ever. The endless run of highlights and Twitter updates allow you to see games in all manner of bytes -- either in real time, or in some sort of mini-delay -- which let you consume the basics of game-watching pretty easily.
So then what we are left with are the conversations … and the conversations are what make being a fan so fun.
I will be moving from The Dallas Morning News to become the Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com on May 14, and my hope is that the incredible resources with the Stars will allow me to get closer to the fans and take these conversations to new levels.
[RELATED: Stars hire Mike Heika as Senior Staff Writer for official team website]
I've loved newspapers since I was a kid and have worked for them for 35 years. It will be sad leaving The Morning News after more than 18 years, but I also understand that the media world has changed. The DMN has a paywall, and many fans decided they did not want to pay to read my stories there. DallasStars.com is available for free on all of your devices, and that means more readers and more interaction.
DallasStars.com also will allow me the use of more video, of potentially better access, of real time storytelling. You want video from the morning skate, we can make that happen. You want an off-day story on stick preparation, there is time and space. You want a behind-the-scenes look at how the equipment guys move the team, I'm sure Razor will be there to volunteer to help.
Seriously, this new job will allow me to interact more with broadcasters Daryl Reaugh and Craig Ludwig, to break down practice drills with assistant coaches (if they are so inclined), to see what players do on their off-days.
Y'know, the fun stuff.
Now, there also still is the need for daily news reporting, and that will likely fill most of the hours. As much as you can get highlights from Twitter, there still is a hunger for reports from practices and games. I've always seen sports as serial television, and you do miss something when you miss an "episode." So if I can help fill in the blank spots in an 82-game season, then that's a pretty important part of the job, as well.
Many people worry that working for the team will lead to only positive reporting, but the Stars don't want that. They want an honest conversation with the fans that looks at the good and the bad. They want analysis that leads to constructive criticism. That's the mindset I have always had at The Morning News, anyways. I truly believe the answers typically lie in the middle.
Looking at last year's team, I know some fans want to blame the coaching staff, and some want to blame the GM, and some want to blame the players. I believe it was a little bit of everything that led to the playoff miss, and it's important to talk about all of the aspects.
As it is with your neighbor or coworker, we're not always going to agree, but hopefully the discussion will be worthwhile and enjoyable.
Because this is all entertainment. It's incredibly passionate entertainment that can consume you at times, but entertainment nonetheless. So let's dig in and see what more we can talk about with the Dallas Stars.
It could be the continuation of a beautiful friendship.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.