September 03 2012 11:30PM
That old gut of mine told me years ago Jason Strudwick was going to have a long career in the NHL. It’s telling me again he's got a nice tenure as a radio talk show host ahead of him – one that could surpass the journeyman tag often hung on his playing time in The Show.
Strudwick has grabbed my attention with his work here, there and everywhere on TEAM 1260 Radio as a co-host in recent weeks, so it was no surprise to me when the station announced that, as of Tuesday, he'll be taking to the airwaves on the Jason Strudwick Show 9 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday.
While Strudwick doesn't have the classic Mr. Radio Guy Voice, the style over substance some microphone jockeys get by on, he has the one-two punch that gives him a leg up on a lot of guys making a nice living on the airwaves today – with 674 regular season NHL games on his resume, many with a bird's eye view while stapled to the pine, Strudwick has stories to tell.
Second, Strudwick's got the ability to spin his hockey yarns in a welcoming and conversational style, much the way an old school guy I enjoyed listening to, John Short, did. And, to top it off, Strudwick has worse hair and a goofier laugh, which is a feat in itself.
I love radio more than it loves me – the generosity of Jason Gregor aside -- and I listen to virtually everything I can. I always have, since I was a young boy (before television was invented) and I've always enjoyed guys who could tell a story and make a point without a stilted schtick or making the mistake of thinking talking louder gets the point across better.
I've heard bits and pieces of that from Strudwick in recent weeks. Raw? Sure. Who isn't when they're just a few months into a specialized gig like Radio Ga-Ga? I'm still that way after seven years doing spot duty as a sidekick to Bob Stauffer and Gregor. But there's something there. I'm sure of it.
MAKING AN IMPRESSION
Strudwick first caught my eye as a player during the 1998-99 pre-season when he was looking to catch on with the Vancouver Canucks. As somebody who'd spent four years or so at the Kamloops Daily News covering the WHL Blazers before joining the Edmonton Journal in 1989, I found myself keeping tabs on graduated Kamloops players, even guys after my time. Strudwick was one.
At the NHL level, Strudwick was a classic ham-and-egger: an honest player who had to get by on work ethic and willingness to compete every shift. As a big, physical stay-at-home defenseman (Strudwick played some forward, too) without much offence in his game, next-to-none actually, he had to keep it simple and play it tough. He'd have to fight some, too. And he did.
Strudwick had a pretty good one-two when it came to fisticuffs, too. He could throw punches with both hands, so while he favored the standard grab with the left and throw with the right, he also crossed up opponents by mixing in some left hands if he couldn't unholster the right.
It worked pretty damn well, as I recall, on that night in 1998 when he dropped Edmonton first-rounder Joe Hulbig, a big raw forward who was going to have to play it much like Strudwick – tough and honest – if he was going to have an NHL career. It was Sept. 25 (I looked it up) and Strudwick hammered him.
As it turned out, Steve Staios of the Canucks did exactly the same thing to the kid they called Joe Big in Vancouver 24 hours later, leaving Hulbig face down doing the dead man's swim. The back-to-back beatings left Hulbig in a bad way. He never did live up to expectations – he was a first-round flyer – in Edmonton and got a cup of coffee with Boston before fading away.
As for Strudwick, my book on him back then was: he kept it simple, played it tough and he could back it up with anybody who didn't like it. I always had a soft spot for guys like that. Every team needs them. That's how Strudwick got 674 games on his resume, playing long after many more talented players, like much of his hair, disappeared.
GIVE HIM A LISTEN
My book on Strudwick now is he's slotted in perfectly 9 p.m. to midnight because that's where his knack for providing the perspective only a former player can and spinning stories will come in handy -- we'll know most of the scores and the stories of the day by the time he comes on.
I hope Strudwick devotes a lot of time to putting that stamp on the show and that he resists the urge to regurgitate interviews and sound bites we've heard three times already. I hope Strudwick entertains and laughs a lot, too, light in the trunks as he is (we have sources on this).
Most of all, I hope Strudwick is a big success. Like I said, I've got a feeling he will be, just like I did the night in 1998 when he punched out Hulbig (without the flying saliva and snot bubbles). TEAM 1260 could certainly use some of that in the late night slot. Give Strudwick a listen. I know I will.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.