Jason Botchford carried with him a tremendous passion for the game of hockey and for the Vancouver Canucks. He gained popularity while working for The Province in Vancouver, and then most recently moved to The Athletic website.
Botchford, who died last weekend at the age of 48, was widely known for his Canucks post-game reports, first called “The Provies,” then “The Athletties.” His reporting provided edgy, insightful commentary and a unique, zany approach.
It has been a rough few years for Canucks fans, with the team failing to make the playoffs since the 2014-15 NHL season. However, Botchford was passionate and optimistic for the future.
How Elias Pettersson changed everything in Vancouver https://t.co/wPjUk9gMl1— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 14, 2019
In one of his more popular stories this year, “How Elias Pettersson changed everything in Vancouver,” he wrote, “It’s with guys like [Pettersson] that allows a city to dream of better days, too.”
Botchford was critical of underperforming players, and rightfully so. Former defenceman Erik Gudbranson controlled 38 per cent of scoring chances at 5-on-5 while on the ice, the lowest ratio in the entire league for defencemen.
,@botchford on Gudbranson: Derrick Pouliot got mauled all game. All game. And you know what his pairing partner did? Nothing. There was no, there's a bad mofo, that's a nasty guy, that's a big hit, there was nothing. When you add in the passes into skates, and the icings....— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) October 10, 2018
Botchford bestowed cutting, yet humourous nicknames. He described the current highest-paid Canuck, Loui Eriksson, as “Little Things.” (He said the Swede did the little things right on the ice, but did not warrant his $6-million salary cap hit).
The first Canucks game in which Eriksson was listed as a healthy scratch, he tweeted:
Little Things is out— Jason Botchford (@botchford) March 14, 2019
::looks at the bottom of the canucks roster for a replacement:: pic.twitter.com/kWlG9XgSYT
Botchford’s pre-game piece from 2013 about the San Jose Sharks and the Canucks is arguably his most controversial. He describes a situation where Sharks forward Joe Thornton explains to the media how he would celebrate scoring four goals. [Warning:
Canucks vs Hertl gameday: What we learned http://t.co/elIV4gyKDa— Jason Botchford (@botchford) October 10, 2013
Botchford brought the passion like no other when covering the team. He and TSN 1040 reporter Jeff Paterson were a popular duo on their Canucks podcast, titled Patcast.”
All the times he screams on the @1040Patcast. Sure not everyone agreed but you can hear the emotion and you could hear how much he cared about the team. I will never forget that.— Judd Brackett is underrated (@JuddBrackett_1) May 1, 2019
He famously engaged in a feud with Sportsnet 650 radio host, Andrew Walker. Walker often took to Twitter to express his opinions of The Athletic and its paid-subscriber fanbase, compared to his show.
The two were actually friends behind the scenes.
Gutted like everyone today. Botch and I were rivals on this medium, but friends behind scenes, as most figured out. An unspeakable loss to his friends and family, to this market & Canadian sports media. Unique, creative, passionate, entertaining. We'll miss him a lot. #RIPBotch— Andrew Walker (@AndrewWalker650) May 1, 2019
After the Canucks failed to reach the post-season in 2018, Botchford was famously quoted for saying Vancouver’s slogan should be “We need an army!” He was lamenting the inability of management to acquire better players, prospects and draft picks at the time.
.@botchford: You need an army. That should be the slogan for the #canucks. We need an army! Let's go. We need picks, we need players, we need prospects, players, defensemen, everything. And Dahlin is nice, but he doesn't get you there next year or the year after— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) April 25, 2018
Best fanbase engagement
In January, Botchford, along with TSN 1040 reporters Mike Halford and Jason Brough and others, presented a “Live Power Hour” for fans at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver and get into a lively discussion about their beloved hockey team.
Botchford’s last published article was on April 24, 2019. It focuses on the development of Canucks’ starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, and his relationship with goaltending coach Ian Clark.
How Ian Clark reinvented Jacob Markstrom, and why people believe it’s sustainable https://t.co/sbt9MAKdkF— Jason Botchford (@botchford) April 24, 2019
His final ‘The Athletties’ on April 6 provided an entertaining and eye-catching review of the Canucks’ 2018-19 season.
The Athletties: Elias Pettersson’s shot, the lesson from his second half, the Utica situation, what’s happening next https://t.co/H8KBsY83Ck— Jason Botchford (@botchford) April 7, 2019
There are hundreds of Botchford pieces to choose from, and he always seemed to have saved his best for last. Botchford had perfected his “listicle” style of post-game reporting. His ‘The Provies’ post-game report after the final game for Daniel and Henrik Sedin was a fond farewell to two of the all-time greatest Canucks. He described them as “two superstars doing what only superstars can do… They blew your freaking mind.”
The Provies: A Farewell to Kings https://t.co/jP6U5nhkrn— Jason Botchford (@botchford) April 6, 2018