Rustling Leafs on the web

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By Anthony Lopopolo

Steve Glynn stumbles upon an early October issue of the Toronto Sun in 2007. He takes a quick glance, catches the paper’s cover, and is irritated by its headline, “Leafs, better luck next year.”

Glynn recalls its bold-faced type, the way it appeared to jump into his face, and its unsettling effect on him as an avid fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Sun wouldn’t have made an impact on Glynn if it weren’t referring to the Leafs’ first game of the season — at the time, a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators — as if it were its last.

“That made me upset, that the Sun wrote the team off so early,” said Glynn, a fourth-year radio and television student. “In their defence, they ended up being right.”

However, this incident had a more profound effect on Glynn’s career as an aspiring sports broadcaster. Like a mosquito bite, the publication incited Glynn to satisfy his itch: a desire to make his voice known.

“I’m a goofy guy, and I like to get my opinion out there. I got my webcam May 2007 and started my YouTube account May 2007. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I started some sort of video blog, I just didn’t know what it would be on. I knew something would catch my interest.”

He posted videos on the first two games of that season and noticed that each got 50 views within the first couple of days. That proved to be a great feat for the Ryerson student, who regarded it as a breakthrough moment in his budding career.

That was then. Now, he has surpassed 1 million total views on YouTube after producing video blogs for three seasons. His online segment, entitled Leafs Fan Reaction, has been featured on Yahoo! Sports and remains a fixture in the hockey blogging universe.

YouTube Canada grabbed a hold of Glynn’s viral phenomenon as well, highlighting one particular video that eventually garnered some 40,000 views.

“I told people about [my first videos] and said, ‘Hey, it reached 50 views.’ And now, when I post a video, 40 people have seen it before I have. And that’s weird to me. If I wanted to comment first on my own video, I’d be one of those losers that wasn’t actually first. I don’t know how people beat me to it.”

SteveDangle, as his moniker goes, brings a blue-collar and humorous vibe to his coverage of the Leafs. As his viewership broadened, he has encouraged other video bloggers to respond to his videos on Glynn even caught the attention of Leafs TV, where he’ll be interning next year.

“I try to think of funny things. Sometimes, I watch [Leafs games] and all I have to do is tell you what happened to get a laugh. And with the Leafs, you have to laugh. Especially this season.”

With the NHL draft set yearly in late June, Glynn took advantage of his extra time in the summer and set up interviews with prospects from the OHL and WHL. “These players are getting trained to be media savvy and I was trying to train myself on how to interview them,” he said.

That gave him an opportunity to communicate with hockey players on an unconventional level, touching on their looser sides and treating them simply as human beings.

“People don’t want to hear boring answers. I think people want to hear about the players’ lives a little more. I think they want to hear about how (Leafs prospect) Nazem Kadri is going to get to the NHL, but they may also want to see him race a car,” he said.

As for his potential longevity as a video blogger, Glynn hopes people continue to comment and spur debates over his videos. And in Toronto, where sports teams are objects of despair, Glynn takes solace in giving sports fans a place to take refuge.

“I absolutely feel that I have a duty to get videos out there. One of the most common comments I get is, ‘This season has been so hard to watch, but at least I get to watch your videos and laugh a little.’ If my videos make it more pleasurable for the fan, that’s cool.”

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