Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shagman: The Mind, Body & Soul Of DU Hockey

(left) The self-described "best looking play-by-play voice in the WCHA," Jay Stickney

Sources: The Clarion, Westword, Denver Post

DU hockey players and coaches know him as "The Voice of University of Denver Hockey." But Jay Stickney was once the "Shagman" of the cheesy Denver commercials for Rocky's Autos near Mile High Stadium.

What's a "shagman?" David Rothrock - who founded Rocky's at a corner gas station in 1982 and has built it into one of the region's largest used-car dealerships, including a $100,000 budget for TV and radio spots - has the answer. "It's a name used for people who drive cars back and forth, from coast to coast or locally."

"I guess as strange as the commercials were, it was still fun doing them, being with the crew," Stickney remembers. "The weirdest part was really just meeting the general public. When you're out at the Adam's County Fair -- we went wherever there was dirt -- there'd be people waiting an hour and half to get a hat signed. It was like being a really bad rock star."

These days you can catch him live twice a week at the Ritchie Center as the voice of the University of Denver's Pioneer hockey team on KLZ 560 AM. "It's great being part of a team that's so successful for the past nine years. I get to travel with the team, hanging out with 20 & 21 year-old guys," says the 38-year-old. "I'm more like a coach. I drink a lot of coffee and just follow the puck."

"When I am on the air, I just pretend that I know what I am talking about," said Stickney.

Ask any coach or player to comment on his experiences with Stickney and the response will start with a laugh, smile or shake of the head, every time.

He is referred to by everyone who knows him as the team comic.

"Sometimes my humor will get me in trouble with fans though," said Stickney.

"One time, four or five DU players were called for penalties at the end of a game and a couple guys had to sit on laps in the penalty box because the box only holds about three players at a time. So I made a joke about there being a lap dance going on in the penalty box," said Stickney.

He added, "I got a call from an unhappy listener the next day. That was several years ago and I have not had any upset calls since. Maybe no one is listening to me anymore."

"I was the ninth pick for the job as DU announcer. They said it was because I was just too good looking for radio. I was just excited to be picked," Stickney joked.

Stickney said, "I have worked in many places, but I love working for the DU hockey program."

"Being able to call the games at the Frozen Four in Boston in 2004 was one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life, even if I did lose my voice by the end of the championship game," he said.

Stickney graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990.

He currently resides in Littleton with his wife and two kids.