Welcome to Intriguing People 2018, our annual celebration of Las Vegas’ cultural trailblazers and social trendsetters. See more from this year’s series here.
Growing up, Dan Marrazza was that classmate who found endless ways to entertain you. He could recite every year that the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup—24 of them—and all Yankee World Series wins—22 then, now it’s 27—in 10 seconds. In the hallways at Montclair Kimberley Academy in his native New Jersey, he’d garner laughs popping out from behind walls or firing off puns with his quick East Coast wit. He wasn’t much into the prep school’s high tea—he seldom drinks caffeine—but he’d often stuff his slack pockets with desserts for later. His mornings and weekends were for hockey practice—he played left and right wing, a “total beanpole,” he says, at 5-foot-11 at 12 years of age.
“My personality now is very much what I was like as a kid,” says the now 6-foot-5 30-year-old. “I like my ice cream. I like my hockey. I like to tell jokes.”
These days, though, Marrazza has a much bigger platform for joke-telling than the classroom. As the senior writer for the Vegas Golden Knights, he has stirred up national headlines over the team’s sensational Twitter account. Marrazza’s the man who has managed that profile—and the team’s Facebook and website content—since June 2016, bringing their social media presence from zero to nearly 800,000 combined followers. His colleague Alyssa Girardi now handles Instagram (a post he held through May 2017) and Snapchat posts, and both work collaboratively with the team’s vice president of communications and content, Eric Tosi, but it’s a 24/7 gig nonetheless, one that Marrazza works at meticulously and efficiently.
“I sleep with two phones by my head,” Marrazza says. “One on one side, one on the other.” He sends the team’s first daily tweet before he’s out of bed. Then he’s tweeting in his bathrobe. In the checkout line at the grocery store. On Christmas morning. Days off don’t exist when you’re the voice of an NHL franchise—especially one that’s likely making the playoffs in its debut season.
Much like the hockey team, Marrazza is still getting used to his success. At age 15, Marrazza sought after and secured an internship with sports media legend Stan Fischler, which ignited his professional “marriage” with hockey. He earned a B.A. in Science from Ithaca College in upstate New York in 2009. In the years that followed, Marrazza worked a string of internships and contract jobs—including Olympic hockey coverage for NBC Sports, for which he earned a national sports Emmy.
“For a lot of years, I thought I was ready to get a [full-time] job. But the merry-go-round would skip. The musical chairs would expire. And I would take another internship,” Marrazza says.
About one year before he was hired by the Golden Knights, Marrazza moved home to his parents’ New Jersey basement to save money and freelance write. It was during that time when Marrazza earned bylines in Sports Illustrated, ESPN and The New York Times.
“If I got a job when I was 22 and never had to go through that, it’s almost like going to the supermarket where the food’s there for you. I was taught that you had to hunt for your food,” he says. Long hours spent “hunting” meant racking up 28,000 miles in a matter of months driving around the East Coast for whatever his freelance gigs required of him. It was on the road, sleeping in his car or in his parents’ basement—where his Emmy collected dust atop a crate—where Marrazza’s mind developed an imagination that now lends itself so well to 280 characters on Twitter. “My brain got really wild with new ideas,” he says.
Dan D’Uva, now a radio broadcaster for the Vegas Golden Knights, hired Marrazza as an intern when he was the director of public relations and broadcasting for the ECHL’s Trenton Devils in 2010. It was D’Uva who first tasked Marrazza with running a hockey team’s Twitter account.
“In 2010, nobody knew what Twitter was going to turn into. What I did know is that he could connect with people,” D’Uva says. On the Golden Knights’ Twitter account, Marrazza does so by accessing his arsenal of pop culture and sports knowledge. In preparing for each game, he keeps a Word document of potential tweet ideas, but says that most are sent 10 to 20 seconds after their conception.
While Marrazza is clear to distinguish the Golden Knights’ account from his own personality (“This is a company voice that has been approved through multiple players,” he says), it is clear to anyone who meets him or follows his personal account (@DanMarrazza) that he is the star player behind the keyboard.
Marrazza’s humor has earned the attention of many celebrities (comedian Norm Macdonald, wrestlers Chris Jericho and Bret Hart, writers and actors from Boy Meets World, The Wonder Years and others, whose names Marrazza can rattle off much in the way he did sports championships as a kid), several of whom have requested to meet him in person at games.
Although such celebrity interactions are still a surprise (and a delight) to Marrazza, D’Uva says that his success isn’t surprising at all. “To have the kind of success that [Marrazza] has found is not an accident. You don’t just stumble into the kind of gig that he has. For as long as I’ve known him, he has put himself in a position to succeed.”
There was a time when that position looked like a basement. Now it’s in an office overlooking the ice at the Golden Knights’ practice facility, City National Arena. Or on a private plane, when he’s traveling with the team to an away game. Then in a hotel room, where he can charge both phones and order ice cream from room service, of course.