Steve Dangle’s incredible odyssey, from self-starting Leafs lover to sports-media star
How do you turn ranting about hockey into a career? Steve “Dangle” Glynn is a YouTuber, podcaster, and sports personality from Toronto, who managed to turn a 16-second online rant about the Maple Leafs into a career in sports media. From video blogging in his parents’ house at 19 to yelling on televisions across Canada at 28, Dangle has been involved with some of the most important sports companies in the country.
In between tales of Steve’s adventures, both online and off, This Team Is Ruining My Life is also a kind of how-to (or how-not-to) guide: in an ever-evolving media landscape, sometimes you have to get creative to find the job you want. This is Steve Dangle and his accidentally on purpose journey through sports media so far.
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About the Author
Steve “Dangle” Glynn is a lifelong Leafs fan who began making YouTube videos about his favorite team when he was still a teen. Now he gets to work at Sportsnet for a living. (Still no Cup, though.) Steve and his wife have two wonderful dogs. They live together in the ’Shwa (Oshawa, Ontario).
Read an Excerpt
My First Scar
Do you have hockey scars? I have only one, though I don't recall getting it.
I was about three and playing ball hockey in the driveway with the neighbour kids. As my mom remembers it, I ran inside crying and bleeding from the corner of my left eye. The game must have gotten crazy, or maybe it was just because I was a motor-mouthed hyperactive kid who hadn't developed proper balancing skills yet: I had apparently ran into the brick corner of our garage.
My mom patched me up, the tears soon stopped, and I started to run back outside.
"Where are you going?" my mom asked.
I yelled back, "I gotta finish the game!"
It's what Don Cherry would call a "Good Ol' Canadian Boy" moment — but sadly, I don't have one that relates to actual ice.
I never played the game.
Although I did fantasize about scoring the Stanley Cup–winning goal (and I still do), it never really bothered me that I didn't play "real" hockey because deep down, I knew I wasn't destined to be a star athlete. I wanted something different.
In Anchorman, there's a scene where Ron Burgundy comes on the TV at a bar, and a biker shouts, "Hey, everybody! Shut the hell up! Ron Burgundy's on!" That is exactly the way Don Cherry and Ron MacLean were treated at my house during my childhood. I remember watching "Coach's Corner" as a kid — whether it was with my parents, aunts, uncles, and other family members, the reaction was the same.
Ron and Don would appear on the TV during the first intermission and yell and scream at each other. There's no way I understood what the hell they were talking about; what I was paying attention to, even at the age of four or five, was how the adults reacted.
From one rant to another, my family would go from laughing at Ron and Don to laughing with them. That was fascinating to me. Every Saturday, Ron and Don had the attention of millions around the country. More importantly from my little perspective, they had the attention of every adult in my house. As a kid, all you want is for adults to pay attention to you and take you seriously. So to me, that was just as incredible as any Doug Gilmour goal, any Wendel Clark hit, or any Felix Potvin flashy glove save.
Fast forward about a quarter of a century to spring 2017, and I'm sitting in a restaurant in Whitby, Ontario, with three friends. I look up and Ron and Don are talking about Jarome Iginla on "Coach's Corner." At least that's what I assumed they were talking about because the sound was off.
A few minutes later, I looked down at my phone. I had text messages from 17 different people, missed calls, voicemails, and a bunch of notifications.
I'm not even kidding when I say my first thought was that somebody had died.
"OMG CALL ME RIGHT NOW!" my wife messaged me. About a dozen messages from others were some variation of "HOLY SHIT!!!"
Ron MacLean had said my name on "Coach's Corner" live on Hockey Night in Canada. Apparently, he had seen a video that I had made for Sportsnet about how Jarome Iginla should have been named one of the NHL's top 100 players of all time.
"We've never met Steve Dangle, but he said he should have been one of the 100," Ron said.
"Who?" Don interrupted.
"Steve Dangle. He's on Hockey Central every weeknight," Ron explained.
Don then went off about how ludicrous it was that Evgeni Malkin wasn't one of the top 100 either, but I had got what I needed.
So how the hell did it happen?
Whether you're a fan of mine, you can't stand me, or you have no idea who the hell I am, I want to give you my sincerest thanks for picking up this book. Time is precious and every single day there are new ways for us to spend it. The fact that you would choose to spend some time reading this book or listening to my manic hockey rants is truly an honour.
I love reading books or hearing stories from hockey broadcasters about how they got to where they are. Most of them, however, tend to be older — in their 50s, 60s, 70s — and are accomplished individuals who have led interesting lives.
While I don't have the profile of those guys, and I haven't been on national television for three decades, and, in fact, I only started writing this book at the ripe age of 29, just three short years after moving out of my parents' house, I'm in the thick of it right now, trying to establish myself in sports media — an industry that appears to be shrinking by the day.
If you are looking to pursue a career in sports, broadcasting, or anything else for that matter, my hope is that you will find the stories of me desperately trying over and over again to get my foot in the sports broadcasting door relatable and proof that you should never give up. I'll also tell you all of the dumb mistakes I've made while trying to stick said foot in said door. Hopefully you'll read about my silly mistakes and learn from them. If nothing else, hopefully you'll laugh.
And if you're not looking to work in sports media, I hope this gives you an idea of what people are going through right now as they try to establish their own career and identity. You may even relate to many of the stories in this book; even though industries and technology change, humans are still just human ...
Some of us just yell louder than others.CHAPTER 2
The Jump to North America
My family's story begins outside of Canada, which makes it extremely Canadian.
More than 100 years ago, my great-grandfather on my dad's side was an orphan in England. Because we don't know who his parents were, there's a natural mystery about his origin. The rumour within the family is that he's a royal bastard — not a bad-guy bastard, a literal bastard. It goes like this: King Edward VII had a child with a chambermaid and that child is my great-grandfather. Look, I'm just relaying the story my family told me, OK?
Obviously we couldn't prove that. Photos of my grandpa as a young man look quite a bit like King George V's son, King George VI, but that's hardly evidence.
However, my great-grandfather did attend an expensive naval academy, despite growing up in an orphanage. Who paid for that? I was even able to find a record of him on a naval ship in 1911. At 18 years old, he was the youngest member of the crew.
But it doesn't really matter who his parents were. He made a life for himself, married my great-grandmother, and started a family that included my grandpa. That's all that matters.
My grandmother on my dad's side has an interesting story, too. Her family lived on the island of Guernsey. While technically one of the British Channel Islands, it's actually right off the coast of France. In fact, most of the streets have French names. Before she began losing her memory, my grandma also recounted that her family had Norwegian ancestry and potentially a bit of Irish, but she wasn't sure.
Her family had money. My aunt said she heard someone in the family line had invented something to do with milk cartons. My grandmother's father owned a hotel in Guernsey called The Swan. The problem with him, however, was that he was a royal bastard in the bad-guy sense. He was a playboy and a gambler. By the time my grandmother was a young child, her father had racked up such terrible gambling debt that he was left with two options: send his children, including my grandmother, to a workhouse or sell off the hotels. His wife, my great-grandmother, refused to let her children be sent away, so byebye, hotel.
He abandoned his family, never to be seen again.
From a very young age, my grandmother proved she was not to be messed with. She was at school one day with a painful ear infection. For some reason, one of her teachers grabbed her harshly by the ear. My grandma hauled off and headbutted this lady right in her chest, like she was Zinedine Zidane at the World Cup.
While some of my distant family was in Guernsey as the Germans occupied the Channel Islands during the Second World War, my great-grandmother had brought her children to mainland England years before. There is a story of my grandmother, in her mid-teens, running around with two large pails of water during the Blitz to help put out countless fires from the bombings. The next day, with her adrenaline gone, she couldn't lift them at all.
My grandpa, proving to be no chicken himself, enlisted in the navy one day in 1942, when he was just 17. In case you're not the biggest history buff, that's smack dab in the middle of the Second World War. Think about what you were doing at 17.
"How old are you?" the man at the office asked.
"Eighteen," my grandpa lied.
"Right, sure you are," said the man, continuing to fill out the paperwork.
Soon after, my grandpa was on a Royal Navy ship bound for the southwest coast of Italy. He was a signalman, first class.
On my grandpa's ship's approach to the beaches of Salerno, it was hit by a depth charge, an anti-ship missile. He was wounded in the back during the attack.
Once he managed to swim and drag himself to shore, Grandpa was rescued by American troops who had already reached the beach.
"We got a limey," the Americans told their medics as they brought my grandpa in to get looked at.
In the shock of the moment, my grandpa thought they said they were going to cut his leg off. He started fighting them as hard as he could. When they managed to wrestle him to the table, they told him they were only going to cut his pants off.
"Oh, OK." I've always loved the way my grandpa tells that story.
To this day, over three-quarters of a century later, my grandpa still has a chunk of metal about the size of a loonie stuck in his back, less than an inch away from his spine. They never removed it because they were too worried about potentially paralyzing him. Decades later, it was the cause of a few awkward conversations at airport security.
After my grandpa was fully healed, he was told to report to Scotland for training for a secret mission. That mission ended up being D-Day, which I'm proud to say my grandpa participated in.
After the war, my grandparents married and decided to move to Canada to live in Scarborough, a suburb just outside of Toronto.
My grandma, a brilliant woman fluent in French, German, and Flemish, worked in communications throughout mainland Europe during the war. She found a job doing similar work for Bell Canada. My grandpa found a government job with the province. One of the jobs he had was as a television repairman.
Together, they had three children: my dad was born first, followed by my two aunts.
Then there's the Italian side of my family.
My nonni both came from a small Italian town called Monteleone, in the province of Foggia, in the Puglia region. If you can't be bothered to google it, it's right around the Achilles tendon of the boot.
They both came from generations of farmers. My mom's parents were just young children during the Second World War, but my nonna's mom and several other family members were arrested during a riot in 1942.
As the story goes, all the men were off at war. Meanwhile, the women of Monteleone were at home, angry and starving. One day, several women were arrested when they tried to stop an officer who was confiscating a pot of their corn flour. The women were thrown into a warehouse where they discovered large rations of food. The fascist-appointed politicians in charge had been hoarding the food.
The three women set fire to the warehouse and broke free. When the townsfolk, my family included, discovered what happened, they formed an angry mob outside of the Carabinieri's office, armed with clubs and pitchforks. About 180 people were arrested or detained that day.
Years later, with the war over and my nonna and nonno in their late teens, they made their way to a place where a large number of the town's population had immigrated: Toronto. It's not an uncommon story: my grandparents left with very little money but a strong family and community connection in town.
My nonno worked as a machinist for Canada Bread. A job like that comes with perks, like fresh bread for your family each day. My nonna worked as a seamstress in Toronto's garment district on Spadina Avenue. It was piece work, meaning she basically had to fight off her own coworkers for pieces of fabric to sew.
Before my nonno died of cancer when my mom was just 12 years old, my nonni had four children: my three uncles and their little sister, my mom.
My mom's oldest brother, my godfather Lenny, was the athlete of the year at his high school and captain of the wrestling team. The second oldest brother, Rocky, allegedly fought off five guys at once as a teenager. The third brother, Dom, has about half a foot on both of them, and his muscles got him into the Toronto Sun as the Sunshine Boy many years ago. (I'd say that he'd be embarrassed that I put this tidbit in a book, but he's had the picture proudly displayed in his house for as long as I can remember.)
When that same uncle was younger, he used to make a backyard ice rink by flooding the tomato garden in the winter. And in the spring, when he left his hockey sticks in the backyard, my nonno would saw off the blades and use them as tomato-plant stakes. It's like they were trying to jam as many Italian-Canadian stereotypes into one situation as possible.
These family tales might not seem important to my weird little hockey story, but they are. Without my grandparents taking the risks they did to move to this country, it's unlikely I would have grown up to be a hockey fan. In fact, I wouldn't have grown up at all because my parents would never have met.
Despite the potentially intimidating trio of brothers, my dad still had the nerve to show up at their house and start dating my mom.
My dad had long rocker hair and played the drums. Now over 60 years of age, he still plays in a metal band and beats those drums like they're the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs and his sticks are Gary Roberts.
One day, Dad went to his best friend Mike's house. When he showed up, Mike's younger sister and her friend, a tall, athletic brunette, were getting ready to go dancing with their fake IDs. Guess who that friend with the fake ID was. That's right — my mom.
The moment they laid eyes on each other, they said, "Let's make a hockey blogger together." True romance.
After a few years of dating, my parents were married in 1985, and they moved to a house in east Scarborough, near the Pickering border. For those of you who can only navigate Toronto using Drake lyrics, that's about a five minute drive east of Morningside.
My mom worked as a secretary at the Yellow Pages not too far west of their new home. Knowing how she drives, however, the drive probably took her somewhere between 45 minutes and five days. My dad worked in Toronto for a company called Cadillac Fairview, which owns several buildings right in the downtown core. He worked as a maintenance operator, fixing fans, air conditioners, and so on.
After three years of peaceful marital bliss, during an ice storm on the night of March 12, 1988, my mom gave birth to a 7 pound, 12 ounce bundle of joy at Scarborough Centenary Hospital. The doctor said I was the first baby he had ever seen born in a Leafs jersey. I'm surprised the doctors weren't more alarmed by that — not because my mom gave birth to a fully clothed baby but because the Leafs sucked in the '80s.
"Are you Steven?" my dad asked, the first time he held me.
Just then, I opened my eyes, and that was that. Thank goodness I did, too. Dad wanted to name me Keith.
My parents say I hardly ever cried, and when I did, you could barely even hear me. I guess I figured I'd save my tears for the lifetime of heartache that comes with Leafs fandom.
My childhood was full of Berenstain Bears stories, Disney books, and more. My parents read to me often and instilled a love of reading, storytelling, and imagination at a very young age. The side effect: I wouldn't shut up.
When I was a toddler, I went to daycare at the YMCA by the Scarborough Town Centre. They put me with kids who were a year older than me because I was yapping circles around the other three-year-olds, who were still learning to talk.
When I was three years old, a monumental event changed my family's lives forever and shaped who I am today.
In the few days prior, Mom told Nonna that she wasn't feeling well. Nonna was concerned because the symptoms my mom described matched the way she felt just before she gave birth. This was especially concerning because it was July and my sister wasn't due to be born until November.
One day, my dad called my mom at work like he always did, but she wasn't there. She had gone into labour and was taken to the hospital. My grandpa drove over to pick my dad up from work and rushed him to the hospital.
With my dad at my mom's bedside, my sister was born at 24 weeks, about four months premature, weighing 1.5 pounds. There's a good chance you have a jar of peanut butter in your house right now that weighs more than my sister did when she was born.
As soon as she came into this world, doctors rushed her away to another room. She was given a 50/50 chance to live.
Rachel spent most of the first four months of her life in an incubator with tubes up her nose. The hospital had tiny diapers specifically made for premature babies, but they had to cut hers in half. Generally speaking, in the event of premature birth, doctors hope that the baby makes it to at least 30 weeks before being born. By then, the organs they need to survive will have been developed enough. Rachel was born about a month and a half earlier than that. She was born with blood on the brain and some brain damage and had a lot of difficulty breathing.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "This Team Is Ruining My Life (But I Love Them)"
Copyright © 2019 Steve Glynn.
Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Jeff Marek ix
My First Scar 1
The Jump to North America 5
Puck Head 17
First & Only 34
Zoo Stories 36
Getting Schooled 53
First Year 63
Seat Filler 69
Game of Bounces 79
Welcome to YouTube 82
Take Me Out to the Ball Game 94
Tea & Truculence 110
The Minors 129
"We're Gonna Make You a Star" 133
Bring Your Lawyer 141
"Ebs" & Flows 147
Stolen Couch 165
The Golden Day 171
Until the Final Buzzer 197
Rookie Season 201
Dougie Effing Hamilton 211
Summer Slump 220
Keep Your Head in Your Own Boat 225
My Day as a Senator 227
Story Time with Smitty 234
You Have to Know the Game 242
The Lockout 248
Mrs. Dangle 257
Sidney Crosby's Pants 259
Home Ice 265
Toga Party 273
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? 282
Use Your Head 292
Just Ask 295
Loud Noises 299
Infiltrating Suit Country 306
My First Game 309