Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/06/11 at 07:44 PM ET
I started writing the Red and Black Hockey blog back in July 17 2005. It started out over on the blogspot platform, spawned out of another blog that I had created to write about music and movies and things like that. More than six years have passed, and while there have been a lot of good times, I’ve reached the end of the line. I no longer have the time or emotional energy to devote to keeping this blog going.
When I started out, I thought it would be nothing more than an outlet for me to spew my thoughts. I didn’t expect anyone to read the dang thing. To my surprise, things sort of took off. I was writing every day, a few times a day. Not just about the Hurricanes, but about the NHL in general. People were reading, and in what was then a small community of hockey bloggers, I was holding my own. And then some. The thing grew pretty quickly, and I was having a great time. More than six years later, I’ve lost the passion for blogging.
Here’s how I got to this decision:
Things were easy in the early days. With the end of the year-long lockout, the ratification of the new Collective Bargaining Agreemant, the abundant free agent market, the rules changes, and the beginning of the 2005-06 season, there was a lot to write about. It was a really exciting time to be a hockey fan and an even better time to be a blogger.
Of course, things were even easier for me especially, because the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup that season. They started strong and stayed strong all season long. They were a quick, skilled team. They had four 30-goal scorers. They were the third-highest scoring team in the league. They were the sixth-least penalized team in the league. They adjusted to the rules changes better than most teams. Things were great in the regular season.
The Erik Cole injury happened, and it was obviously a very bad thing, but it was great writing fodder.
Carolina, to the surprise of all the pre-season prognosticators, won the Southeast Division and went into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as one of the strongest teams in the field. Even without Erik Cole, who had scored 59 (30/29) points in 60 games, they were a hot team.
I was a dedicated blogger that season, but like I said, it was easy to write about a team that played really well. My dedication to the blog and the success of the Hurricanes got me some exposure in some pretty high places. During the 2006 playoffs, I was part of a four-blogger roundtable panel over at cbc.ca. Although I was ostensibly representing “USA East” on that panel, I was really representing the Hurricanes. Either way, it was fun, and it brought exposure for my blog. You can take a stroll down memory lane and visit that roundtable here. The three other members of the roundtable were:
-Tyler Dellow, who rose to fame last season when he got his hands on some emails that exposed Colin Campbell as corrupt
-Patrick Angelo, who spends his spare time training hand puppets to perform pop songs. He also makes delicious hot sauces and is a self-professed “music geek”. I know this stuff because I know Pat.
-Chris McMurtry. I don’t know what ever happened to him.
I was also interviewed for a piece in the Christian Science Monitor about rookie goaltenders in the 2006 playoffs. While they’re not famous for their sports coverage, it was a good experience that got me some more exposure and it told me that I was doing something right.
Carolina won the Cup, and that did wonders for the blog’s traffic. I even got some face time on national teevee during the ECF because of my ridiculous playoff beard and my sign which read “My Beard Believes”. I got emails from people I didn’t even know about that one.
The following season, I participated in a panel on the New York Times hockey blog about the 2007 playoffs.
Despite the fact that Carolina plummeted to earth and played mediocre hockey during that 2007 season, it was still easy to write. I still wanted to write, and I was still considered to be a good and dedicated blogger. It was about that time that some NHL teams started to tinker with the idea of issuing press credentials to bloggers. At first, I thought that I would like to have that experience, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered that I liked being a hockey fan. I liked going to the games and drinking beer. I liked going to the games in my sweater. I liked going to games and getting excited. Those are not things that people with press credentials do.
It was also about this time that the hockey blogging community exploded. I knew that if I wanted to maintain my reputation, I would have to stay on top of it. I would have to write well and frequently. I would have to offer different material than the other guys.
The following season, I had my first thoughts of “I have to write a post”. Before then, it had always been “I really want to write this post about how scoring is down this year league-wide” and “I thought of a fun way to write an interesting post about man-games lost to injury” or “I really want to include a rules interpretation in my game re-cap”. Most days, it was still fun and I still wanted to write, but I was having those “this is something I have to do” moments.
The 2008-09 season was a little brighter, and I managed to work my way back into writing because I wanted to. Before the season started, I was asked to join Kuklas Korner, and I jumped at the chance. I knew that it would be a great opportunity for me to rekindle my passion for writing. It would also be a great opportunity to gain some more exposure.
The Canes made a deep playoff run with lots of exciting games. I had a lot of fun that post-season. It didn’t end well, but it was a great season, and I felt like I had my oars back in the water.
During the off-season, I lost the momentum that I had gained, and I once again found it difficult just to write a simple post about a game during the 09-10 season. Forget about anything creative… I couldn’t even muster a recap. I decided to throw some spice into it by following and writing more about the then AHL Albany River Rats than I ever had. That helped, but I still couldn’t consistently write. As the rumors circulated that the Rats would move to Charlotte, that was an excellent story line to follow, and at times, the Hurricanes took a back seat to the Rats on this page.
Last season, the Rats moved to Charlotte and rebranded themselves the Checkers. I bought a mini-season ticket package and went down to about a dozen Checkers games in addition to the dozen or so Hurricanes games. I thought that this would help me get back on track, but it was still difficult at times. Still, I forced myself to write about the games, and I found some story lines to write about the Checkers. The incredible story of 11-year old Zack Bennett, who has a severe case of a neurological disorder that I also have, was something that I ran with, and it felt good to be writing again. Unfortunately, I was still having trouble with motivation. The Hurricanes missed the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. The Checkers made a deep playoff run, and that kept me going, but after that, there wasn’t much.
In the early days of this blog, I found things to write about over the summer. This past summer, I barely wrote at all. The draft, the free agency period, and even the start of the season came and went and I could barely write a thing. And now I know that it’s time to call it quits.
I also used to read a lot of blogs back in the early days. For some reason, I don’t even do that anymore. I miss the days when I would read a lot, comment a lot, and write a lot of my own posts. I’ve tried to force myself back into those things, but it isn’t fun when I’m forcing myself to do it. And this is supposed to be fun.
I know that the best bloggers these days have to treat their blog like a full-time job. I guess for some of them, it is a job. I can’t do that. Maybe I’ve come to a point where I can’t keep up with the Joneses anymore. Maybe I’ve reached the end of the proverbial line. Maybe twitter has zapped my desire to write full posts. Maybe I’m just not that into it any more. But I know that I can’t keep this thing going anymore.
I want to thank Paul and Alanah for everything they’ve done for me over here. The people at The New York Times, cbc.ca, The Christian Science Monitor who have all helped me along the way. The people who have read this blog on purpose over the years. Thanks for reading.
I hope that some day, I’ll find the desire to start writing hockey again, but I know that it won’t be any time soon. I’ll still tweet about hockey a lot, so feel free to follow me on twitter (@dlee71)
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.