Seasons end, but a hockey writer’s job is never done

You might expect the spring and summer months to be a time when The Herald’s Everett Silvertips writer, Nick Patterson, can put down his notebook, switch off his laptop and just relax.

Well, not exactly.

“They always seem to have something that keeps me on my toes,” said Patterson, who has covered the Western Hockey League team since its arrival in Snohomish County in the fall of 2003.

This offseason has been particularly busy.

In addition to the usual interruptions (the WHL bantam draft, the CHL import draft) Patterson has had to cover a major trade — the Silvertips shipped high-profile prospect Seth Jones to Portland in May — as well as keep tabs on all the hoopla surrounding star defenseman Ryan Murray, who was selected second overall in the June 22 NHL draft, the highest pick in Silvertips’ history.

The Internet, too, has added more work for Patterson during his “down time.” He continues to maintain his Silvertips blog, which is one of The Herald’s most popular. And monitoring Twitter has become a regular part of his offseason routine.

“I’m not finding more (news),” he said of checking Twitter daily, “but it does compel you to be more alert at all times.”

Even when news on the hockey beat slows to a trickle, Patterson has no trouble keeping busy. Once the Silvertips’ season ends, he pitches in to help with high school coverage. Does he enjoy the change?

“Depends on the weather,” he said with a smile. “One of the challenges in climbing back into the preps is the rain.”

Once June rolls around, Patterson assumes the roll of baseball beat writer. He covers the Everett AquaSox, a Class A farm team of the Seattle Mariners. Readers frequently ask him how covering baseball compares with covering hockey.

“Here’s what I tell everybody,” he said. “Covering hockey is sitting on the edge of your seat leaning forward. Covering baseball is laid back, like this.” He leans back in his chair and crosses his legs.

While the two sports move at dramatically different paces, Patterson said, he enjoys the contrast.

“It helps avoid burnout,” he said. “Having that annual switch helps keep things fresh.”

Come August, though, when the Silvertips are about to head to training camp, Patterson, like the players, starts to get excited for the upcoming season.

“I like watching the young players come in and see their progress (over the years), and see if they compare with what I expected,” he said. “And it’s an age group that’s pretty good to work with, too.”

When the Silvertips open camp in late August, Nick ducks out of the sunshine at Everett Memorial Stadium and heads indoors, where he will remain for most of the next 6 to 7 months.

“It always strikes me that hockey (season) starts when it’s 70 degrees and sunny,” he said, “and it ends when it’s 70 degrees and sunny.”

Each week, Here at The Herald provides an inside peek at the newspaper. Is there something you would like to know? Email Executive Editor Neal Pattison, npattison@heraldnet.com.

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