Back on April 1st, it was announced that Nathan and I would be leaving Hockey Wilderness. Many of you were rightfully fooled, as it was April Fool's Day... only you didn't all get the joke right away. We really were planning an exit, and the time for that exit is upon us.
This is real, folks. Stick with me.
In October of 2008, I joined this site after talking back and forth with then NHL Editor James Mirtle. As it turned out, Nathan was already running the show, but I signed on anyway. This was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I had ever made. The friendship and professional relationship that Nathan and I now have is one that most people in this world are not lucky enough to have.
It's been a long, very, very strange trip, boss.
Back then, Hockey Wilderness was as unknown as a ninth round pick, getting maybe a couple hundred page views a month. With the growth of SB nation into a powerhouse network of sites, and by some schrewd additions and subtractions in the staff, HW has grown into a site that finished this season pulling down just shy of a quarter million page views a month.
My mind boggles to this day.
Nothing in life is perfect, but running this site has been a true pleasure. There were times I wanted to walk away and let the wastes of human life that have tried to drag the conversation down have their victory. Yet, sticking around always seemed to find a way to make sense. Through getting married, raising two kids (not done yet), buying a house, changing careers, going back to school for a Masters degree, finally finding a career path in life, the death of loved ones... there was always hockey, and more importantly, there was always Hockey Wilderness.
An escape from reality when needed, a reminder that reality finds its way into everything even when it was not needed, this site has been a constant in a life rife with change. Knowing that the community here, and across the SB Nation platform, was always here brought comfort in times of sadness, and amplified times of joy. This truly is a place that feels like home, and I hope that won't change just because I'm no longer King of the castle.
The sheer number of experiences and number of people this site has brought into my life is beyond description. Walking into the press box at the X for the first time... hell... walking into the press box at the X for the last time. Joining up with Defending the Blue Line. Getting the chance to meet and talk to players on a human level, meeting the people behind the scenes that make it all work, sitting in the same room as some of the biggest names in the game, and feeling as though I belonged there.
Naming all of the people that made it possible would be impossible. Doing so likely means I forget someone, but here goes. Thank you to :
- My family for putting up with me and the unholy amount of time I spent away from you to make this site work. That ends now. You have been, and always will be, the only reason I have to wake up in the morning.
- Ryan Stanzel & Aaron Sickman for taking a risk on a couple unknown buffoons, and ignoring the basement dwelling blogger stereotype. You let us into your house. Hopefully we never made you regret that decision.
- Mike Russo at the StarTribune for being... well... you. One of the true greats of the hockey world, your ability to sniff out the story, and get it before anyone else is out-matched only by your willingness to give your time to make fans and nobody writers feel like they actually deserved to be in the same media room with you. Know that your work has inspired at least this poor sap.
- To the Swarm ownership, John and Andy Arlotta, as well as Alec Schimke, Matt McCormick and Jake Elliot from the Swarm family. I hope I get to see the day the Hive is packed to the gills and all of your hard work is rewarded. An amazing sport, run by a truly professional and brilliant group of people.
- The staff here past & present for making the site feel like more than just me talking to myself. I love the work you do, and I look forward to seeing where the site goes under new leadership.
- To all of the other Wild sites that have come & gone, and especially to those that are still around. More voices in the choir is always better than fewer. Please be sure to read First Round Bust. Good people doing good work.
- To the writers out there who were always the "cool kids." Puck Daddy, Pro Hockey Talk, The Score... all of them. Allowing us to sit at the table with you all from time to time will always be some of my favorite memories.
- Each and every troll that stopped by. You were all entertaining in your own way. Even those few of you that if I were ever given the chance to put the fire burning the shirt you are wearing out, I would roast marshmallows. Thanks for the page views. I hope each of you someday realizes what a painful waste of flesh you really are.
Please note that it was not an easy decision to walk away from this community. The amount of work that goes into making something like this into what it needs to be is ungodly. With the network comes responsibilities and requirements, and those responsibilities and requirements feel like a job. When it comes to having three jobs, and a family, priorities needed to be set. It quickly became clear that staying here and arguing with the troll of the day just wasn't worth it any more. It has grown tired, and it's time for someone else to give it a whirl.
A career and a dedication to helping others have found themselves to be more important in my life than a site about a hockey team. To be sure, both of those have found their role as distant runners up to my kids and my wife.I could keep going, but let's face it... it's really down to a contest of who cares less, you or me.
To sum it all up, it's time for a new kind of wilderness walk. The King is dead. Long live the King.