On March 17th, 2009, John Fontana and I started up this blog. I had been writing for Bolts Blog previous to that, and John had his own blog at that time as well. James Mirtle, now a Toronto Maple Leafs beat writer for the Globe and Mail, had recruited John to run the SB Nation Tampa Bay Lightning and had suggested another person to write with him. But John chose me to be his partner in crime, despite never having spoken with me before.
He came up with the name "Raw Charge", though I wasn't crazy about it. But that's what we went with because we couldn't agree on anything better. And then we wrote. We wrote on our own, just the two of us, for a couple of years trying to get things off the ground.
And we did. And we added some great people - some of which have moved on to journalism jobs, partly because of the experience we helped give them. And the team accepted us as a part media landscape in Tampa. And their AHL affiliates have, too. And the NHL also accepted us as media by granting credentials to NHL events such as the draft and the All-Star Game.
In short, it became far more successful than we'd ever dared hoped it would, and we were thrilled by that.
I may not have written very much in the last few years - mostly due to burnout, frankly. But I've been doing in-game updates on Facebook this season, which was fun. So it's been me doing that play-by-play, such as it was, for those who were on there. And, of course, I was on the game threads for the people there as well.
While I'm very proud of what John and I started over six years ago, it's time for me to go. For good. I know that I've left before for family emergencies, but this time it's different. I'm walking away from not just the blog, but the Tampa Bay Lightning as well.
I'm taking the summer off from writing about hockey, since I'm burned out, and then we'll see where I am this fall. I may focus my energies on making my hockey podcast - CCPT Hockey Show - into something a little more serious. And/or if the NHL gives Seattle an expansion team, I may write about that. Then again, I may not do anything else. I haven't decided yet.
I want to thank everyone who reads the blog. We wouldn't be us without you, and we wouldn't have a reason to write without you. The friends I've made due to this blog are many, and I want to thank you for checking out a random hockey blog about your favorite team. As Bob Ross used to say, it was a happy little accident.
I'd also like to thank both the NHL and the AHL for credentialing me for their respective All-Star Games. I didn't manage to make it to the AHL All-Star Game, but again, they allowed a blogger in with the rest of the rifraf. I mean, the mainstream media.
I want to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning for giving us an opportunity to prove ourselves to them. It means a lot for the team we write about to take us seriously and treat us as equals to the mainstream media. Especially since we're just random people off the street that they knew nothing about at first. They were one of the first teams in the NHL to allow bloggers in their press box, and we will forever be grateful for that.
I'd also like to thank the Norfolk Admirals for doing that same for me personally. When I lived in Virginia, no one was interested in the AHL affiliate, and the Norfolk fans hated me writing about their team. But without the Admirals giving me a chance, we would never have thought to look for a Syracuse Crunch writer, and I wouldn't have a good friend in Allokago.
I want to thank the players and Jon Cooper for treating me well while in Norfolk, as well as the few players I've interviewed while they were with the Lightning. Everyone was very kind and professional with me, and they didn't have to be. It helped put me at ease, despite me being a horrible question-asker.
I also want to thank all of the people who have ever written for Raw Charge. Without them, both John and I would've burned out on this years ago. They took part of the burden off of us with their help, and a few became good friends in the meantime. And if it helped them get their journalism careers off the ground, that's the least we could do for the help they gave us.
Obviously, I can't thank John enough for asking me on board in the first place. It's been fun, and it's been frustrating, but I don't regret the past six years doing this. I was hoping to go out on a high note with the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, but such is life, I guess.
I'm not falling off the face of the Earth here, though. I'll still be around on Facebook (if you're a friend with me there), on Twitter, on my podcast in the fall, and perhaps on the occasional game thread on Raw Charge next season. So I don't really see this as a goodbye - it's more of a "see you later", since you all know where to find me.
So long, and thanks for all the fish. Or something. And don't forget to tip your waiter.