If You Want Something You’ve Never Had…

This is my quote of the day.  Of course, I was thinking about my Yves Saint Laurent bag when I saw that, but then I started to really think about it and thought…you know…that has been my secret to success all along.

I was thinking about my hockey writing career and how I was able to cover the hardest team in the entire league to be credentialed into.  Just because you work for the local newspaper, it doesn’t guarantee you entrance into the Devils’ domain.  You would have better chances covering any of the other 29 teams in the league before the Devils would let you in.

When I first started off as a hockey writer, my dream was to cover the New York Rangers.  Even with my breakout article, an exclusive controversial interview with former New York Ranger Darius Kasparaitis, I wasn’t allowed to cover the Rangers.  Instead, my editor gave me the New Jersey Devils. 

I took the column, knowing very little about the team.  But I had to prove my worth to be allowed into the Devils’ domain. So I wrote abot the Devils.  I learned every single thing that I could about them.  I watched the games on television, wrote down the post-game quotes, and offered my analysis. 

I did this with little to no hope of ever getting into the press box.  I just did my job, pressed on, and came out with my column. 

A few months later, my editor told me to call him.  What I wasn’t expecting to hear from him was that the unbelievable had happened…I was credentialed into the New Jersey Devils.  I was told that I had proven myself worthy and the Devils were letting me in.

This also marked one of the first times that the Devils admitted a web-based media person into their press box.  Before this, the NHL only allowed print/TV media into the press.  Web-based media was not allowed.  They weren’t considered reliable news.  My admittance into the press box…it meant all eyes were on me to see what I would do.

Trust me, I was scared to death!  At the end of the game, they announced locker room availability.  I just sat there trembling in my seat saying, “I’m supposed to go into the locker room?  Are you sure?” 

I pulled myself together and walked into the locker room. 

The first time I was in the Rangers locker room, there was a bit of a commotion from the Rangers’ players, because they all knew who I was thanks to Mr. Kasparaitis.  A few of the younger guys saw me and were giggling like school boys, standing in the hallway, watching me with the rest of the scrum…just to see what would happen. 

I was standing near the doorway, when one player stumbled into two of the players standing near the doorway.  I remembered hearing a veteran walk over and ask, “What’s going on?” 

It wasn’t my imagination…they were watching me.  I heard a player quickly respond to the vet, “Michelle Kenneth is in there.” 

I turned and looked at them when they said my name and then they stood there like three deer caught in headlights.  Yeah…I heard.

That was my first locker room experience…three young New York Rangers falling all over themselves because they saw me in the locker room for the first time. 

I didn’t let that weird moment do anything to me.  I went back to my column and wrote what I needed to write. 

When I covered the Rangers in Prague that fall, I was told that my first moment in the Devils’ press box was actually the most talked about moment in the NHL that day behind the scenes.  They called me “Jersey Girl” because my first and second games were the most watched moments.  Everyone wanted to know how in the world I got into that press box.  I must have known somebody or Lou Lamoriello personally in order to get in. 

I responded that I didn’t know anyone. 

That’s when they sat back and said, “Wow.  You got in on your own merit.  You must be one hell of a writer.”

It was while I was in Prague that I discovered that I had created history by being the first web-based media person allowed into the press box.  The NHL and teams throughout the league followed suit with other web-based media after the Devils let me in. 

After all, in Prague…only four of us from North America made it out to the New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning games.  One of those people just so happened to be the only female (which to the European media was just so shocking…they thought the NHL was innovative, because women did not cover sports in Europe), and the only US web-based media person there. 

This all happened in the first year of my career.  I released my exclusive with Kasparaitis on October 1, 2007.  I started writing about the Devils in December.  By April 2008, I was sitting in the Devils’ press box. 

I have not met another person in all of these years that have a similar history as I do with the NHL.  The really odd part of this whole thing…when I tell hockey players that I only got into hockey in 2005, they think I’m joking.  I respond…”No, I’m serious.” 

That’s when they look at the chain of events and think…that is insane.  How does someone get into hockey in 2005, absorb it in less than a month, have a hockey column within the next 2 years, and then not even 6 months later is sitting in the press box and interviewing players in the locker room? 

All I can point to is that this adventure may have a little something to do with my grandfather and his last wish for me.  Two weeks after he died, I was contacted by a news website based in Vancouver asking if I would be interested in my own sports column.  I said, “Make it hockey, and you have me.”  They agreed and the adventure began.

I didn’t even apply for the job…they found me thanks to a recommendation by…wait for it…Britney Spears. 

She helped me get my first writing gig, all because she knew I loved to write, loved hockey, and because she knew I had lost my grandfather just two weeks before. Since then…everything has been a bit charmed on this adventure. 

Getting back to that quote…my dream was to cover the New York Rangers.  Instead, I covered the New Jersey Devils.  This year, I had plenty of opportunities to switch over to the Rangers, but I decided to stick with the Devils this season and do a few games for the Rangers.  I don’t regret that decision at all. 

The weird part was at the beginning of my career, I said that I would retire when the Devils won the Cup while I covered them.  Now, we begin the Stanley Cup Finals and the Devils are still in it.  I announced back in July that this would be my final season covering hockey so I can focus on other dreams.  My intuition told me that this was the final season…I don’t know if it was also predicting the outcome of the New Jersey Devils this year.  If so, the biggest lesson I have learned this season…TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!  IT IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

John Giannone had mentioned to me last week that I had to be the master of predicting hockey outcomes…all the way down to the score and who would win the game that day.  It’s all intuition, and learning to tap into that well to see what will happen.

The weird thing about all of this…I keep asking myself…what are you going to do now to fill up all of your extra time?  Sure, I will have travel and hockey clubs overseas, but what do I want to really do?

Over the season, Prudential Center has been showing “Frozen Planet” up on the jumbotron in between periods.  Each time it came up on the screen, I literally stopped whatever I was doing to just sit in awe at the beauty of the advertisement. 

Luckily, last night, I saw that the library had the BBC version of the show (not narrated by Alec Baldwin).  I picked it up and started watching it last night…just in complete awe at these guys that do the video footage.  I mean…watching a wooly caterpillar over how many years before they turn into a moth?  Or staying in -35 degree temperatures in Antarctica just to videotape penguins and the continent!  Who does that? 

Well, these guys did it…they even went swimming under the ice to get video footage.

I learned so much in just the first episode.  I saw things that I had never seen before…things that I never knew existed…and I saw just how amazingly beautiful the world is, untouched by man.  I saw the many shades of blue inside glaciers, and the magnificent blues surrounding them. 

The weird part of it all…the one thing that I learned was that the animal species are a lot like the human species, even in their own societies.  They can be cruel to others outside of their community…and disgusting.  The elephant seal…as ugly as it is…one male that’s the king of the beach has a harem of 50 females.  Any other male that wants a female…well, they have to fight the king for it.  Polar bear males have to fight off would be suitors to his female.  White wolves have a male and female to take care of their cubs…i.e. they have a family unit.  And albatross love only one other for the rest of their lives (and they live for over 50 years).

It’s just so strange that animals have very similar societal and relationship qualities as can be seen all over the world in the human race.  They really are not all that different from us.

While I sat there in complete awe of the show, I realized what my next dream has been all along…I’ve been wanting to write/photograph for the National Geographic since I was a kid, sitting in my great-grandmother’s living room going through one magazine to the next, just in awe of the world out there. 

I’ve actually been thinking about this all year long.  I started reading their website and how the photographers document their journeys.  It’s good to know that out of 500 photos, they’re lucky if one photo captured the moment they were looking for.  It’s just a reminder that even though we see something so perfect and amazing in magazines, it takes a lot of shots just to get it right once.

I wish that the photos I put up on here from my camera looked the way online as it does in the print version.  What I post up doesn’t always reflect the photo accurately due to computer settings.  But the product that’s printed, it actually makes you stop and think, “Wow, that is one great photo!”  Even crazier when I say to myself, “Hey, I took that!” 

Sometimes doing something like writing a hockey column for 5 years leads to other adventures.  I think all I ever wanted through all of this career was one thing…RESPECT.  Respect that a woman could know hockey and not be treated as a woman that was looking for her hockey player husband. 

I think the way that I saw hockey was very different.  But it’s also been a learning experience in understanding that, and discovering who I am in relation to that.  Some fans expect me to write like the other guys.  No.  I wouldn’t bend.  In everything I do in life, I don’t follow the crowd.  I will purposely move in another direction just to show my own individuality.

I always told the writers I mentored, if everyone is writing the same story, what makes you think someone will read your work if it reads just like everybody else?  You have to have your own nitch that will bring people back to you again and again.  Be the different voice.

I also know that I don’t cater to what fans want.  I don’t care if people like me or not.  They either do or they don’t.  It comes with the territory.  I don’t let others define who I am or what I will write.  I pick the story and tell it.  In a way, I want people to see hockey through my eyes…and a lot of times, it embraces the things that I hold true…and sometimes, you’ll find a life lesson in there.

Why?  Because hockey has always been a learning experience to me.  Every day I walk out of the locker room, I either learn something new, or laugh at others that just don’t get it. 

It’s not just the veterans that are older than me that I learn from…even the guys 10 years younger than me have taught me something…not just about hockey, but about life. 

For me, when I started this adventure…I was looking for myself and my path in life.  My grandfather’s last wish for me was to get on my path in life and to stay on it.  I wanted the dream…it was something I had never had.  Hell, I didn’t even know what it was.  It was only doing something that I had never done before (become a hockey writer) that I found that dream…and who I am.

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth is the voice behind PerfectionistWannabe.com.