Please let me introduce myself. My name is Tara Slone and I’m Canadian. I was born in Canada, I grew up in Canada and I haven’t lived anywhere else…until now. But I’ll get to that.
Some of the stereotypes you see about Canadians on TV are downright ridiculous; We don’t all say “aboot” instead of “about”, our diets consist of more than just maple syrup and poutine, and we don’t all live in houses made of ice. Canada is vast, colorful and diverse, and our accents and eating habits reflect that. But some of what you hear about Canadians is true. Our dollar coin is actually called a “Loonie,” most of us own some variation of a plaid flannel shirt, and… we LOVE hockey.
All my life I’ve participated in the uniquely Canadian ritual of parking in front of a TV on Saturday nights to catch the marquee matchup at Hockey Night Canada. It was there that I inherited my father’s love of hockey, and as a bonus, it was also the only time swearing was allowed in my house. What wasn’t to love?! I’ve been a perennial fan.
As much as it was part of my life, it never occurred to me that hockey could lead me to any career. Growing up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, I certainly didn’t see girls or women in hockey skates (yes, that was a long time ago), and there weren’t any anchors or reporters at those Saturday night games. I didn’t see myself reflected anywhere in this world.
In a way, my initial career path couldn’t have seemed further from sports. I’ve been a singer in a rock band, a contestant on a music reality show, an actor, and when I made the jump to broadcast it was first in entertainment and lifestyle. But I never stopped being a super fan. One of the greatest thrills of my life was singing the anthem at a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. For those who remember the occasion, it was in 2002 when Habs captain Saku Koivu was about to return from cancer treatment. He stood beside me as I somehow inexplicably worked up the courage to sing O Canada to the crowd in the Bell Centre, to my family up in the press box, and to the few million Canadians who saw Saturday night. As a singer and hockey fan, this was the ultimate feather in my hat.
I won’t take you through the long and winding road that led me to hockey (that’s what Google was invented for!) except to say that once I got into broadcasting, I was very keen to pursue my career in that direction to steer. In 2014, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to embark on an eight-year journey as co-host of a new NHL weekly show called Rogers Hometown Hockey. All I knew when I heard about the show was that it would be traveling across the country telling local hockey stories and would be hosted by legendary Hockey Night Canada host Ron MacLean. That was more than enough to convince me that this was the right next step for me.
Little did I know then how much hometown hockey would not only shape my love for the game but also spark a deep concern for the game and the people around it. For those who have never seen it, the show traveled to about 25 communities throughout the hockey season. Our mobile studio and broadcast team traveled every weekend and we tried to find the stories that would best represent the city or place we were in. We weaved these stories into our pregame and intermissions of our NHL matches, and conducted interviews with local personalities, NHL grads and Team Canada players. We were all about the core of the game and hometown heroes. We met the people who made the heartbeat of ice hockey. It was a really nice show.
In my travels, I’ve seen hockey at its best, but also seen some of the injustices within the culture of the game. We’ve never shied away from telling the hard stories, because it’s only by shining a light on the darker side of things that we can hope to bring about change. But what really struck me is what great equalizer hockey can be. In its greatest moments, hockey brings communities together. It can be a sanctuary, a place to be ourselves, and a place to learn, grow, step in, heal and blossom. Through this 8 year exploration, I have found a passion for telling stories in the most inclusive ways possible and making sure everyone at every level of this amazing game feels seen, cared for and represented. I will forever be grateful for the privilege of being welcomed across Canada at every single stop we made.
Hometown Hockey ended in June 2022 and personal circumstances drew me to California. Like I said, I’ve never lived outside of Canada. Sure, I’ve traveled extensively and toured the US many times during my rock ‘n’ roll days, but my roots have never been south of the 49th parallel. So it was a bit daunting to navigate a place that uses inches instead of kilometers, has no socialized medicine and I can’t find the familiar glow of a Tim Horton’s on every (or any) corner. But what the Bay Area has to offer is hockey, and hockey feels like home to me no matter where I am.
I am very excited to announce to everyone that the next chapter of my journey will be with the San Jose Sharks where I will host features, a podcast and do whatever the team wants me to do – sort of like a Swiss Army knife of the content provider. This team is SO exciting to me for so many reasons. Despite the palm trees and relentless sunshine, San Jose is an amazing hockey market with an extremely loyal fan base and an amazing track record. The organization is committed to the growth of the game and strives to make hockey a positive and inclusive space. This is a team that wants to do justice to its community. This is a team I can fully stand behind.
Sometimes the best things in life happen when you least expect them. A 7-year-old self skating in Wolfville, Nova Scotia couldn’t imagine a career in hockey, and California was just one place I’ve seen in movies. But here I am and it feels like the right place.
I can’t wait to get started.