What's your idea of a dream job?
I get dozens of emails each season saying my gig of writing fantasy hockey for a living is right up there on the list and I can't really argue: except when there's no NHL season to generate stats, leaving me begging for food on the corner. Ok, so maybe it's not that bad. But you get the point.
Ask any good Canadian lad what they'd love to do for a living and chances are that a good portion of them would give anything to do play-by-play.
One guy that's been living that dream for over a decade is Cam Moon.
Those who follow junior hockey likely know his name. He's done work for TSN and Rogers Sportsnet over the years at various events like the Memorial Cup, World Junior Championships and even the CHL Top Prospects game.
This season marks his seventh as the radio voice of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels, where he gets a chance to see the stars of the league on a routine basis.
NHL lockout? No problem. There's plenty of great junior action across the nation.
"Ticket prices in the NHL have now priced themselves out of my range," said Moon in an interview with McKeensHockey.com. "They can stay locked out for five years for all I care."
Moon points to the wide range of leagues across Canada that offer exciting hockey and can help fill the void for fans already feeling the absence of NHL action.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
When you mention the WHL in particular, it never fails to bring a smile to Moon's face.
He made his way through minor hockey as a goalie, hoping to one day get the chance to play in that very league. His self-described unspectacular hockey career finally landed in the Western Hockey League back in the 1989-90, 90-91 seasons when he 'tended net for both Medicine Hat and Saskatoon. Those two years were certainly a time he'll never forget; playing for and against the same teams his hockey idols had played for as he grew up.
In fact, his time in the WHL is one of the experiences he was able to draw on when he decided to embark on a broadcasting career. Knowing the game of hockey is one thing; but Moon says there is one lesson he took away from the league that was invaluable in every aspect of his life.
"I learned all about coming to work every day and having to put in a good effort," he noted. "You can't put a price on that sort of example."
The Rebels take that mantra to heart. Moon notes that since Brent Sutter took over as the coach/ GM and owner of the Rebels in 1999, the team has taken on a never-say-die attitude.
"He gets the most out of these players and knows what it takes to get to the NHL," said Moon when asked about Sutter. "He also knows what it takes to be a good person and these players learn that here too."
MAKING THE TRANSITION
Moon attended the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and enrolled in the two-year Radio & Television Arts program not long after wrapping up his brief stint in the WHL. He actually spent a season in net for the NAIT OOKS hockey team, but going to the college was all about getting the tools he needed to turn his hockey know-how into a marketable product. He's quick to credit the program with helping him make the transition from hockey player to prospective broadcaster.
"I'm extremely thankful to NAIT for helping me on my way. It was a very enjoyable two years."
Moon paid his dues with small radio jobs in the first few years after graduation and then caught a break by landing the play-by-play role for Nanaimo in the BCJHL. He called Clippers games from 1995-98 and says that experience was perfect for developing his style of play-by-play.
It was shortly after that when he secured the radio gig with the Rebels, which is where he remains today as the Radio Broadcast Director for the club. After almost a decade of calling hockey games though, the always humble Moon says the learning process is never over.
"I still listen to as many broadcasts as I can," he remarked. "I continually listen to ours and others in pursuit of getting better."
Aside from calling the games themselves, Moon is also responsible for gathering media package info for home games. He does a report on the local radio station to give Red Deer fans all the info they need about the Rebels and he also has to set up his own equipment before every game.
Being a former player, Moon occasionally has the pleasure of strapping on the pads in practice a few times a year with the Rebels. It's all in good fun and it reminds him of his playing days in more ways than one.
"At least I never get hurt, as the puck rarely hits me," he joked. "This has been a problem for quite some time."
Ok. So a Canadian boy who grew up playing the national pastime now gets paid for doing play-by-play for a WHL team. This has to be the definition of a dream job, right?
"I get to be at the rink everyday," he smiled. "I never consider that a chore: it's a privilege. The bottom line for me is none of what I do is work. I can't think of anything else that I'd rather do."
Is there any downside to this incredible gig?
"The long road trips are tough," he admits. "I take some solace in knowing that when the kids (He has a boy, Levi, who is 8 and a girl, Chayce, who is 6) go to bed at night, they are listening to their dad call the game. I miss a lot of things in the winter, but I try really hard to make it up in the summer."
Anyone who knows Moon knows he'll never pass up the chance to work in his dry sense of humour.
"My wife, however, prefers me leaving on the occasional road trip," he quipped. "Too much of me at home is apparently is not a great thing."
To check out the entire chat transcript of Moon's conversation with McKeen's, visit McKeensHockey.com. The site also recently published its Top 30 Prospects List for each NHL team and is working on the finishing touches to its yearly Top 100 Prospects Rankings.
When the lockout ends, Chris can be found writing fantasy hockey right here for Slam! He can also be seen on the fantasy pages of ESPN.com and he serves as the Managing Site Editor for McKeensHockey.com. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org