The industry lost a well-respected voice and an even better individual on Sunday with the passing of Brian Blessing. Brian was known to the VSiN audience from having done guest spots and other appearances over the years, especially in the infancy of the network. Brian was the longtime host of Sportsbook Radio and Vegas Hockey Hotline here in the valley and also did a lot of work for SportsGrid, BetUS and other outlets.
Personally, Brian was a good friend, a great mentor and a tremendous help to my career. At my previous gigs with BangTheBook and then ATS, Brian was a recurring guest on my Tuesday morning podcast and he never missed a spot. He did them from his patio so as not to disturb his family and to let his granddaughter get ready for school. He did them out there in the heart of winter or in the heat of summer. He did them from the beach on vacation or from the studio on a busy day.
Golf, NASCAR, horse racing, NFL, college football or hockey, it didn’t matter. Brian was prepared and a fan of virtually all sports. It was a tremendous help to me to have a guest like that, but it also made Brian attractive to lots of other shows as well and he did those appearances like the absolute pro that he was. His work ethic is something I strive to emulate.
Working with Brian will forever be one of the highlights of my career. When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to have the Empire Sports Network, which broadcast Buffalo Sabres games. Brian was on the pregame and postgame coverage with Sabres Hockey Hotline alongside Mike Robitaille. Not only did I learn a ton about hockey from them, I learned how to be a trusted, credible and personable analyst on the air. I cannot express how fortunate I was to have it all come full circle and work with him as an adult.
The Brian that I knew seems to be the same Brian that most people knew. As tributes and remembrances poured in on social media, adjectives like “authentic”, “genuine”, “funny” and “kind” were among the most common. Not to mention, he was a diehard Buffalo sports fan through it all, and we bonded over that given my Cleveland roots. I didn’t have a dog in the Super Bowl hunt before, but I am absolutely a Bills fan this season. He would have loved to know that.
I hope he knew what we all thought about him because I feel like we all knew what he thought about us. He was just that kind of honest and upfront person. I already miss him a ton and I know I’m far from the only one.
I send my thoughts, well wishes and love to his family and his countless number of friends and colleagues. We’re all better for having known Brian. RIP buddy and Go Sabres.