Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tara Slone, and I am Canadian. I was born in Canada, I was raised in Canada, and I’ve never lived anywhere else… until now. But I’ll get to that.
Some of the stereotypes you see on TV about Canadians are straight up 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 indeed called a “loonie”, most of us do own some variation of a checked flannel shirt, and… we fricking LOVE hockey.
All through my life, I participated in the uniquely Canadian ritual of parking myself in front of a TV set on Saturday nights to take in the marquee matchup on Hockey Night in Canada. It was where my father’s love of hockey was passed down to me, and as a bonus, it was also the only time that swearing was allowed in my house. What was not to love?! I was a forever fan.
As much as it was part of the fabric of my life, it never occurred to me that hockey could lead me to a career of any sort. Growing up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, I certainly didn’t see any girls or women in hockey skates (yes, that was a long time ago), and those Saturday night games didn’t have any women hosts or reporters. I didn’t see myself reflected anywhere in that world.
In some ways, my initial career path could not have seemed further from the realm of sports. I was the singer in a rock band, the contestant on a music reality show, an actor, and when I did make the jump to broadcasting, it was initially in entertainment and lifestyle. But I never stopped being a super fan. One of the greatest thrills of my life was to sing the anthem at a Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs game. For those who remember the occasion, it was in 2002 when Habs captain Saku Koivu was just about to make his return after cancer treatment. He was standing beside me as I somehow, inexplicably mustered the courage to sing O Canada in front of the crowd at the Bell Centre, in front of my family up in the press box, and in front of the few million Canadians who were watching that Saturday nights. As a singer and a hockey fan, this was the ultimate feather in my cap.
I won’t take you through the long and winding road that led me to hockey (that’s why google was invented!) except to say that after I got into broadcasting, I was very intentional about steering my career in that direction. In 2014, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to embark on what would be an 8-year ride as the co-host of a new weekly NHL broadcast called Rogers Hometown Hockey. All I knew when I heard about the show was that it would travel across the country telling local hockey stories, and that it would be hosted by legendary Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean. That was more than enough to convince me that this was the right next step for me.
I didn’t know at the time how much Hometown Hockey would shape not just my love for the game, but it also would ignite a deep care for the game and the people who surround it. For those who never saw it, the show traveled to 25 or so communities throughout the hockey season. Our mobile studio and broadcast crew traveled every weekend, and we sought to find the stories that would best represent the city or town we were in. We wove these tales into our pregame and intermissions of our NHL matchup, and did interviews with local notables, NHL alumni, and Team Canada players. We were all about the grassroots of the game, and homegrown, hometown heroes. We met the people who were the heartbeat of hockey. It was a truly lovely show.
Through my travels, I saw hockey at its best, but also saw some of the inequities within the game’s culture. We never shied away from telling the tough stories, because only through shining a light on the darker side of things can we hope to effect change. But what truly stood out to me is what a great equalizer hockey can be. In its greatest moments, hockey brings communities together. It can be a refuge, a place to be ourselves, and a place for learning, growing, advocating, healing, and flourishing. It was through this 8-year exploration that I found a passion for telling the most inclusive stories possible, and for making sure that everyone feels seen, cared for and represented at all levels of this amazing game. I will be forever grateful for the privilege of being welcomed across Canada on every single stop we made.
Hometown Hockey came to an end in June of 2022, and personal circumstances drew me to California. Like I said, I’ve never lived outside of Canada. Sure, I’ve traveled plenty and toured across many times the US during my rock and roll days, but never actually put my roots down south of the 49th parallel. So it’s been a bit daunting trying to navigate a place that uses inches instead of kilometers, doesn’t have 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 does have is hockey, and hockey feels like home to me, no matter where I am.
I am thrilled to let everyone know that the next chapter of my journey will be with the San Jose Sharks, where I’ll be hosting features and a podcast, and doing whatever else the team wants me to do – kind of like a Swiss Army Knife of content contributors. This team is SO exciting to me for so many reasons. Despite the palm trees and the relentless sunshine, San Jose is an amazing hockey market with a fiercely loyal fanbase, and an amazing legacy of success. The organization is committed to growing the game, and puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to making the hockey a positive and inclusive space. This is a team who wants to do right by its community. This is a team I can wholeheartedly get behind.
Sometimes the best things in life happen when you least expect them. A 7-year-old me wearing figure skates in Wolfville, Nova Scotia couldn’t have imagined a career in hockey, and California was only a place I saw in the movies. But here I am, and it feels like the right place to be.
I can’t wait to get started.