It’s been a little over a year since I wrote my last blog post, which was my final one for The Pensblog that “recapped” the Penguins Stanley Cup victory over the Sharks (which is not even the most recent Stanley Cup victory, what even). I had planned on writing a thank you post last summer, but it was too easy to finally stop writing since hockey has turned into a year-round sport that exhausts every writer/blogger/reporter/fan, whether they admit it or not.
So this year, as I was about to tweet out a multi-tweet thank you to my twitter followers, I figured it was time to write the post that I meant to write last year. And there’s a story/worthwhile message in the end too (read: here’s a tease so keep reading).
A little backstory to how I got into blogging (skip over this if you just want the story/worthwhile message at the end):
Twitter was never supposed to be something that I cared about and blogging was never meant to be a serious endeavor of mine. I joined Twitter in 2010 as “PensFanMeesh7” solely to keep track of trade deadline and offseason news with no intention of ever tweeting. Now I’m “HockeyMeesh” and have over 110,000 tweets…whoops. I started writing about Pens games and the NHL just purely out of boredom in 2011 as I waited for my bar exam results for 2 months. Eventually I was doing 120+ posts per season….whoops again.
My biggest thanks will always be owed to my twitter followers, no matter how long ago or how recently you followed me. Many of you have clicked random article links over the years without having any clue what you’re getting into, and many of you still continued to click into those 5,000+ word articles that got completely out of control during last year’s playoffs. I’ll get back to you guys at the end.
But first – my blogging life. When I started blogging, I created the site CrosbyFTW.blogspot.com. I would get maybe a dozen views and I would get excited if an article reached 20 hits. I wasn’t necessarily looking for hits, but I was looking to improve. I randomly e-mailed an article to Seth Rorabaugh (@emptynetters as you likely know him) one day looking for feedback, and shockingly (or at least unexpectedly), he responded and gave me a full critique. The fact that he even justified me with a response was enough to keep me blogging about hockey in my free time as my legal career began.
CrosbyFTW continued on into ’11-12 and through that disaster of a Pens/Flyers series. During the season, as I wanted to try and build up a bigger audience, I joined The Hockey Writers as a Kings contributor late in the season…and they proceeded to win the Stanley Cup, so hockey was still fun for me at least while the Pens fan base tore itself apart over the Flyers series.
That offseason led to the development of a CrosbyFTW podcast with a friend from law school, Adam Gorzelsky (@PolishHMR). It was inspired by the Puck Podcast, which is produced every week by Doug Stolhand and Eddie Garcia (@PuckPodcast) and had turned into my favorite weekly listen. Soon it was time for the ’12-13 season and I was ready to attack writing and podcasting from all fronts….but the NHL and NHLPA didn’t feel like actually having a season. Coinciding with the NHL lockout was also a short stint of underemployment for me. Combine the two, and suddenly…Magnitogorsk blog became a thing.
My quickest jump in twitter followers came during that 2012 lockout, oddly enough. I was blogging every one of Malkin’s games in the KHL and even getting shout-outs from the online stream that I was using to watch every game.
Not only was it fun, but it was something that no one else was doing, so it was easy to get noticed. Enter blogging “relevancy” and The PensNation. As the lockout finally came to an end to start 2013, Nick Richter (@PensNation_Nick) and Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy) approached me to join them as a regular contributor. This little stupid blog I had started because I was bored had actually gotten enough attention that a known Penguins blog wanted me to join, so of course I was going to join.
I had a great time working with those guys, along with Ken Will (@PensNation_K) and for various amounts of time as blogging paths crossed – Annie Shean, Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey), Jim Meinecke (@PandaPSU), Rich Miller (@atrichmiller), and Andi Perelman (@AndiPerelman).
The PensNation provided me with by far my favorite blogging moment – getting a press pass to the 2014 NHL Draft in Philly (where Neal for Hornqvist and Spaling promptly happened). I finally got to meet several writers, including Sam and [the other] Meesh (@pensinsidescoop), Brian Metzer (@Brian_Metzer), Rob Rossi (@Real_RobRossi) and Mike Colligan (@MikeColligan). All of them were incredibly nice, genuine people (yes, even Rob) and they made it easy to feel welcome in a situation where I felt like a complete outsider. That press pass still hangs on my dresser because it’s a great reminder that if you just start doing something you enjoy, it can lead to somewhere you would have never even dreamed of.
Things were chugging along with The PensNation into the Spring of 2015, when The Pensblog asked me if I would be interested in joining them. At this point, my recaps had evolved into full goal breakdowns, player thoughts, roster thoughts, and systematic thoughts…and now I had the site that everyone thought of first for Pens blogging asking me to join them. For the amount of time I was putting into it, I wanted as many people to see my work as possible, which made it a very easy decision.
I only lasted one year at The Pensblog (before dying of exhaustion), but it was a fun year working with Derek, Adam (@amc424), Rich, Jesse (@jmarshfof), and Stephen (@im_draw). The Pens winning the Cup (against the Sharks) was just the best opportunity possible to “retire” on a high note and my recaps had grown out of my own control to the point that I would write them until 2:30am, then wake up at 6:30am to proofread and post before going to work. It was exhausting and it was time to call it quits.
So to everyone listed above (and probably others I’m forgetting – sorry!), a long overdue thank you for giving me a platform for hockey thoughts and a community to produce them with.
On to readers and followers…a little story time:
I’ve always paid (too much) attention to likes/favorites and retweets of my articles, just to get an idea of who my audience was and who was paying attention. There was certainly a core group after a while, especially once I had a bigger twitter following, but it was pretty sparse in my days working on CrosbyFTW and early on with The PensNation.
With it being sparse early on, it was easy to keep track of interactions and readers. I had a specific follower, named Jas B, who lived on the west coast and would favorite all of my posts so she would remember to read them later. She would ask questions every so often and was one of my most engaging readers early on. I knew she had health problems from time to time and the Penguins gave her a nice escape, which I was happy to add to.
Early in the ’14-15 season, I randomly realized that she hadn’t sent me any tweets or interacted with any of my articles like she usually had before. I didn’t follow her, but I remembered her twitter name well enough to check her timeline out of curiosity. The last tweet on there was this:
Two years ago I went blind.
Two weeks ago I found out I have cancer.
In two weeks I may become an amputee.
— Jas B (@jasishappy) October 3, 2014
It’s still the last tweet on her timeline now. Close to 3 years later, I still wonder what happened with her (I have my depressing guesses) and I still randomly think about this random follower just because she interacted with my posts and articles.
So why the depressing story? The worthwhile message at the end is that all of your interactions have been meaningful.
I’m awful at following back on twitter and I don’t always get to reply to everyone, but I want all of you to know how much every interaction has meant over the years. Whether it was feedback or commentary on articles, or just RTs and favorites on twitter, I’ve always tried to keep track and they’ve always meant a lot.
So with that – a thank you to anyone who read this, anyone who helped me along in blogging/podcasting, and anyone who is following me on twitter. Every interaction (good or bad) has meant something to me, and I can’t tell you all enough how much I’ve always appreciated it.
I’m looking forward to countless interactions with all of you moving forward, and I will tease that there will be a regular hockey podcast coming up eventually (with Miscellaneous Thoughts continuing on with Casey as well).
Now, on to the off-season!
Thanks for reading!