Hey, Devils fans, or as John would write, the People Who Matter. My name is Tyler Bleszinski and I actually founded Vox Media way back in November 2003 when I created Athletics Nation—yes, 19 years ago! If you’re just here for the interview then scroll down, as it’s posted below.
It was the blueprint for all SB Nation sites that came afterward. AN, as it’s known, became legendary in the sports blogosphere in large part because I developed a very good relationship with A’s GM Billy Beane, as well as Moneyball author Michael Lewis and others around the A’s team.
As some of you might know from following me on Twitter (@papiblez), I also happen to be an obsessive New Jersey Devils fan who talks about them incessantly. So much so that my wife suggested that I dip my toes back into the company I co-founded and do some work for it every now and then. Seeing as she knows me better than I know myself, I began asking the Devils for an interview with GM Tom Fitzgerald months ago and due to the draft and scouting and so many other things that keep GMs busy all the live-long day, the time was never right. The time finally arrived today. The Devils GM was actually born not far from where I grew up in Massachusetts and he still owns a home there. As for how I became a Devils fan living in Bruins country, well, suffice to say that when I was a kid, I loved teams based on their uniforms and I went to the Boston Garden once and just loved how the old red and green Devils sweaters popped on the ice. They reminded me of Christmas time and I decided right around 11 or 12 years old, the age my son happens to be now, that the Devils were my team for life. I’m 50 years old now, so that should give you some perspective as to how long I’ve passionately embraced David Puddy’s team. I’ve also been through a lot with them. They were miserably bad when I first started following them, but then they hired this guy named Lou Lamoriello and slowly but surely the team began to ascend to new heights in the NHL.
Even as a kid, I was always intrigued by the decisions general managers made with their teams. My natural curiosity led to my trying to understand what they were thinking when they made moves that involved disrupting lives. I think it made me pretty good at asking questions of people like Beane, and hopefully that continues with the video below. By the way, Pete Albietz is the Devils Vice President of Hockey Communications and Team Operations, so that’s why you see him name in the video- he was listening in on the interview. Also, I tried to get to as much as I could in the allotted time, but some questions I had got left on the cutting room floor. Also, I just recorded the Zoom video, as is. I used to transcribe my hour-and-a-half-long interviews with Billy Beane and that was a lot of work.
I’m crossing my fingers that more can be addressed in possible future interviews. That being said, it’s been a fun first 15 games this year, huh? I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed getting to speak with Mr. Fitzgerald. It was an absolute pleasure and I thank Tom, Pete, and the entire Devils organization for taking the time out to do something like this with a fan.
Now, roll the tape and Let’s Go Devils!