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Making a career out of being a fan

Steve Glynn, now a resident of Oshawa, enjoys a walk in the park with his dogs, Iggy and Charlie. (Photo by Chris Jones)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs can be difficult, so why not make a career out of it?

This is exactly what Steve “Dangle” Glynn did as he has spent the last several years doing just that.

For Glynn, it’s been a quiet summer for a hockey-geared sports fan.

“I like the Jays, and I like other sports, but it just seems like nothing’s happened,” he explains. “The story [this offseason] is that nothing has happened.”

Glynn’s beloved Leafs have also been having a strange offseason, as they’ve been trying to sign popular forward Mitch Marner to a contract.

As he walks with his dogs Charlie and Iggy, Glynn says his love of the Maple Leafs has been interesting.

“I love the team. They’ve given me a lot of great memories, but now we’re just in this weird stage where I think we’ve finally said ‘contender’ enough times that a lot of people started believing it – myself included,” he says.

However, the Leafs have been ousted in the first round of the playoffs each of the last three years, a frustrating fact for Glynn.

“If there’s anything the last couple of years have taught us, it’s that all you can do is put yourself in striking distance, and then weird things can happen. I know the Leafs are in striking distance. I know they could beat a Tampa Bay [Lightning], a Boston [Bruins], or even Florida [Panthers]… The question is, will they?” he muses.

Glynn says the Leafs should have beaten the Bruins in the first round of the 2018-19 playoffs.

“They should have won, which is the part that is the most heartbreaking about it,” says Glynn.

However, there’s always hope, as Glynn thinks if the Leafs were totally healthy it would have been a different series.

(Facebook photo)

Glynn’s love of hockey started at a young age. “One of my earliest childhood memories is about the Leafs’ 1993 series against the Kings, and I remember being so confused as a kid because to me the Leafs were the best team, and Gretzky was the best player, so I didn’t understand who would win,” he says.

Glynn notes a lot of people think that is the best era of hockey.

“Whatever era you grow up with, you consider to be the best,” he chuckles.

Reflecting on his childhood, Glynn explains the reason he’s a Leafs fan is pretty simple – his father said they were.

“I just remember my dad being like, ‘Our team’s the Leafs,’” he reflects.

He recalls his father trying to explain to him the Leafs are their “hometown team.”

“I’d be like, ‘We live in Toronto,’ and back then he’d say, ‘No, we’re from Scarborough,’” laughs Glynn. “But he’d say, ‘It’s close enough,’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah!’”

Glynn’s sister was born when he was three-years-old, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism.

“I think that gave me a bit of a unique upbringing. My mom was off work for a while having to take care of her, and she was in the hospital for the first four months of her life, and my dad was on disability because he wrecked his back, so that didn’t leave a lot of time for hockey,” he recalls.

Due to all of this, Glynn was often left to his own devices.

“I watched a lot of cartoons, played with my toys, used my imagination, drew a lot of pictures, started to love the arts, hockey and all of that. I was just kind of a dork,” he says. “Road hockey was my Olympics.”

Glynn’s favourite player growing up was Felix Potvin, who was traded during the 1998-99 season to make room for Curtis Joseph in net.

“I think I was the only Leafs fan who wasn’t excited for Curtis Joseph to become a Leaf,” he explains. “[Cujo] was the most thrilling goalie in the NHL – maybe besides [Dominik] Hasek – and the Leafs got him, and I was like, ‘Yeah, but Felix Potvin, screw that guy.’ It took me a little while to warm up to him.”

He explains he wasn’t a very athletic kid, so he never played hockey, but his love for it was always strong.

Glynn says he always wanted to get into sports journalism, even though it isn’t exactly what he’s doing.

“I wanted to do something along those lines, and sportscasting always seemed like a cool idea, but it just didn’t seem realistic because I didn’t play,” he explains.

However, he ended up in the radio and television arts program at Ryerson University.

“I’d started dating a girl at the end of first year, and she got me a webcam, and I started making videos about all kinds of random nonsense, and finally it landed on the Leafs, which was the thing I always talked about,” he explains. “I wanted to talk to my friends about it, I tried to watch every game, [and at] my summer job at the Toronto Zoo it was how I passed the days.”

He started his YouTube channel, Leaf Fan Reaction (LFR), in his second year at Ryerson.

A few months later, he got his first internship at the Fan 590, a Toronto sports radio station, and one of the most popular channels in the city.

“That was 11 years ago now, so it started with a lot of behind the scenes roles,” he explains. “Getting Bob McCown’s tea – large tea, milk, double sugar – and Jim Kelly got cream in his tea which is something

I’d never seen before. [I was also] editing highlights at CBC and Leafs TV.”

In 2014, Sportsnet brought him on in a behind the scenes role.

“They started letting me post some stuff on their website, and then the next year I wasn’t behind the scenes anymore. I started talking hockey full-time,” says Glynn.

From the time he started making videos on YouTube to talking about hockey as a full-time job, a span of eight years has passed.

“It’s funny, I feel like I sort of made a name for myself blowing a gasket about how much the Leafs suck,” he explains. “So, I just feel like the older I get, the more anxious I get about them because the games are higher stakes now.”

He explains the first year when Marner and Auston Matthews were rookies was an especially uneasy year.

“It’s March, and the Leafs are a couple points up on a playoff spot, and people are saying, ‘Well, if they miss the playoffs, it’s not like we expected them to make it,’” he says with a sigh. “I’m like, ‘No, they’re in it! So if they don’t make it that means they’ve lost it!’”

The next season wasn’t any easier, as the Leafs were better, and Glynn keeps expecting improvement.

“I think that’s where so much of the anxiety this summer is coming from,” he says. “We don’t want them to take a step backwards, we don’t want to relive the William Nylander stuff, so the better the team gets…, the higher the stakes.”

One of the toughest parts of his job is knowing there are families of players who watch his videos.

“That’s tough because you’ve got to be critical sometimes,” he says. “So maybe it helps keep me honest and fair. But, blowing my lid is sort of my thing, and if I can’t do it because I’m afraid of what someone’s going to say, I’m not doing a very good job am I?”

Career highlights for Glynn include going to the Vancouver Olympics gold medal game in 2010, getting to meet Matthews’ parents, and covering some Toronto Marlies games, the first time he realized he was starting to gain a following.

Today, Glynn has written a book titled This Team is Ruining My Life (But I Love Them): How I Became a Professional Hockey Fan.

The book is about how he got to the position he is in today. He explains he is frequently asked the same questions about his career path, so he wanted to put it all into a helpful guide.

Glynn explains writing a book is something he’s always wanted to do.

He encourages everyone who has something they think about doing every day and are passionate about, to go out and do it.

He now lives in Oshawa with the woman who bought him the webcam, who he eventually married after six years of dating.

Glynn says he loves it in Oshawa, noting there’s a dog park for him to take his dogs only a few minutes away from his home, and there is always something happening.

The Leafs’ season starts on Oct. 2 against the Ottawa Senators, a day Glynn and other Leafs fans anxiously await.



The most unique interview

By Chris Jones

I’d met Steve “Dangle” Glynn once before at a charity event hosted by former Oshawa General Eric Lindros.

He graciously took the time to speak to me about an issue close to his heart, Easter Seals.

When he was only three-years-old, Steve’s sister was born, and she spent a number of years in hospital, eventually receiving a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and autism.

What I expected to be a five-minute interview turned into a 15-minute interview, where Steve answered all of my questions in detail.

He says Easter Seals helped his family out a lot with taking care of his sister, and now he looks to pay it forward every year.

He then took the time to speak to me about the Toronto Maple Leafs, my favourite hockey team as well as his.

Steve chatted about William Nylander, who still hadn’t signed a new contract with the Leafs at the time.

He was nothing at all like his sometimes-outlandish online persona – which is to be expected since he regularly gets mad about the Leafs.

So, when I sent him a request for another interview, I expected an answer in a few days, or maybe never.

I assumed I’d get lost amongst the myriad of tweets he sees.

However, eventually I received a message on Twitter which simply said, “Hi Chris.”

From there, Steve and I arranged what turned out to be the most unique interview of my career.

We took his dogs, Iggy and Charlie, to the dog park, and talked about his life, and his love of hockey.

His passion for his favourite team is evident, even when he isn’t recording.