At the end of the year, a lot of people will start taking inventory of their lives. Usually, I look at them and wonder why the hell they are wasting their time. Make the best of your life every single day, and when you look back you’re going to have a string of great days. Put all of those great days together and you have a great life. I might be over simplifying it, but hey… it’s what gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night.
But at the end of the decade, I’ve been slipping into that self-analysis like a lot of other people. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, “What’s the point of writing a hockey website?” It’s never readers that ask—all of you have humbled me with your encouraging compliments. It’s usually people from my inner circle that ask the fundamental question: Why?
They don’t mean it in a bad way like, “Why are you wasting your time?” It’s more a question that is meant to ask: “What do you hope to get out of this?” Is it money? Am I looking for some kind of respect? Do I hope to gain access to more players and teams around the league to understand the game I love?
Or is it something completely different that I can’t explain with dollar signs and press passes. Don’t get me wrong, both would be fantastic fringe benefits—but neither are the reason that View From My Seats exists. The question is always hard for me to answer with friends and family because there is no simple, textbook answer. Probably in some weird way it gives me validation that I know what I’m talking about. Maybe it even gives me some sort of proof that I can write as well as the columnists that I grew up bitching about. Maybe it gives me some kind of purpose that is clearly lacking in my 9-5er.
The question always makes me go back to why I started writing in the first place. I started the hockey blog a few years ago for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I looked around the web for a site that talked about hockey in the same way I felt about it. Where was the guy (or woman) that LOVED hockey and knew what they were talking about? Where was the site that would talk about hockey like I do with my friends? There were a ton of sites that would give me game recaps like the Associated Press and basically regurgitate the box score. I watched the game—I don’t want that. I want to know what that game MEANT to the bigger picture.
But by bigger picture, I don’t always mean by the NHL and the hockey world. All of us have lives that are bigger and more important than the hockey team we follow. I love my hockey team more than most sane human beings should—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more important things in my life. It doesn’t DEFINE me. My family. My friends. My health. My “real” life. If those things are in disarray, then I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about hockey. It’s a distraction from my real life—and a huge one at that. But it’s not MY life. It’s the player’s life. It’s the General Manager’s life. It’s the people in the front office—it’s their lives. Not mine.
I looked around for a site that looked at hockey the way I do when I’m at a bar with some friends. I searched for a site that could find everyday life experiences within the sport that we love. I wanted to find a website that made me THINK about hockey—and updated the site everyday. I found some good sites that didn’t always update everyday. And I found some sites that would update everyday, but didn’t really “get it.” But I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I decided to make it myself.
An unexpected payoff from having a hockey site is that it has allowed me to develop relationships with other hockey writers around the web. Funny thing, I’ve found sites that fulfilled some of those fundamental reasons along the way. I’ve found plenty hockey sites that produce content everyday to satisfy my A.D.H.D. mind. I’ve found writers that make me THINK about perspectives of players, games and the sport in ways that I might not have ever contemplated. If I had found them before I started the website, I probably would never have taken the leap into the hockey blogosphere.
Now that the site has a solid foundation, GREAT readers and a sense of purpose for me, I’m finding more benefits than I ever could have imagined. When I want to find out what people in Dallas think about ESPN Dallas, I know who I can ask. And I do.
When I want to know what Predators fans think they should do with their draft pick, there are people that will answer any question I might have for them. When I want to know what people in all 30 cities think about the rest of their division—I have watched bloggers come together for that too.
See, those are the things that I’ve always loved reading. Now, instead of having to look for those articles, I am lucky enough to be able to pull people together to shape those articles that I dream of reading. From that perspective, I’m already more successful than I ever could have imagined.
Before I started VFMS, I always had the feeling that the mainstream media was the end-all, be-all of journalism. In the back of my mind, the pipe dream was that maybe one day someone would read what I wrote and think that I should be writing for them. But the more that I read and the more that I write—I’m not so sure the mainstream media is all that I thought it was.
The more that I learn, write and thrive within the hockey world, the more I wish we had a media that worked together. A “community” if you will. Mainstream media can be so competitive—which seems so counterproductive for us fans. It seems like if everyone was working TOGETHER, the news that was reported and the quality of information out there would be so much better. It’s that whole “two heads are better than one,” concept.
In case you were wondering, yes: I’m burning sage and listening to John Lennon’s “Imagine” while I write this.
I look at the hockey blogosphere and I see what people can be capable of when they work together. Sure, I could tell you what is going on in Montreal with the pressure that the media puts on its players—but wouldn’t it be more interesting if I asked someone that follows the Canadiens? There are things that I have a little better perspective of because I’m an outsider. But I’m the first to admit there are things that I don’t know as intimately because I’m not there 365 days a year.
Sometimes I get the feeling that the mainstream media doesn’t get it. They spend so much time trying to convince us that they’re “experts,” they lose sight of the fact that sometimes someone else can have a better perspective or information on a subject. Can you imagine Adrian Dater actually asking someone else what they thought about something? And care?
So in my traditional, long-winded way, THAT is why I have a hockey site. As the site continues to get bigger and more readers are added to the VFMS family, I’m sure there will be benefits that I never could have dreamed of. And pitfalls as well. But for the time being, that’s where I stand with writing about hockey. I want to make people smile. I want to make people think. And I want people to contemplate ideas outside their comfort zone about all different aspects of the game that we all love so much.
As long as people keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Hell, I might keep writing even if people AREN’T reading… it just wouldn’t be as fun.