I always knew this day would come in some capacity. It isn't easy or what I wanted to do, but life tends to throw knuckle pucks at you, and the only thing to do is adapt.
I'm officially announcing an indefinite hiatus from Raw Charge and covering the Tampa Bay Lightning for the foreseeable future. There's no secret that my coverage waned over the past two years due to life changes forcing my hand in various ways. Moving further away from Tampa didn't help, but having less free time for hockey coverage due to working full-time as a copywriter also contributed.
I tried to find a balance in 2020 and managed well enough, but that was more due to the pandemic keeping everything remote more than anything else. It was a little rockier in 2021, but I managed it decently, especially during the playoffs. Then 2022 came, and the juggling became too much to withstand. The further distance combined with full-time work, wedding planning, situating new moving plans for when we leave Florida in the coming months, finding time to spend with my fiance and corgi, balancing some semblance of social life, and covering the team as I had during my university years became too burdensome. It led to some significant burnout on my end.
That said, I have loved every minute of covering this team and interacting with the fanbase. My goal upon graduating from university was to find some job writing about sports, but that fell through after months of trying. Countless interview opportunities, but always passed over for someone with more experience. Luckily, a writing degree goes in various directions, and being a professional copywriter is a pretty good job in and of itself, in my opinion.
Still, sitting back and ruminating on my time here really drives home how much I love this group of people.
- Acha brought me into the blog back in 2016 and became my 'blog mom.’ Always an insightful voice that kept us honest and on brand. Words can’t do justice to how much I appreciate her.
- Alex was always available to talk about anything (especially Harry Potter, haha), and there is no one with a more open heart and warm soul than her. She will always be an aunt figure for me, and I hope she continues to be an absolute badass in Syracuse Crunch coverage.
- Geo, a confidant and great friend at the blog. We always respected each other's perspectives even when we disagreed, and he’s an anchor the blog will benefit from until he decides to call it quits.
- Hardev is like a younger brother whose exuberance and work ethic are infectious. His hockey insight is also severely underrated, and I hope more people come to that realization. He’s brilliant, and I wish him nothing but joy and prosperity in any future endeavors.
- Tracey is kind, sharp, and works her tail off to get ECHL coverage done when she can. Appreciate her because this kind of coverage isn’t normal.
- Saima (oh how I miss her rants on the team) was a joyful voice that perfectly encapsulated what our blog stood for. I miss her and her joy for hockey.
- Alan was a fantastic mentor, editor, analyst, who always had a snarky dry wit that I appreciated. I hope he is loving life on his farm with his family.
- Lauren is simply a brilliant woman who I still feel is criminally underrated for her hockey insight (seriously, somebody in sports hire her you will not regret it).
- Igor has been a silent workforce for the blog for the past two years, and his translation work has always been strong.
- Justin, who has the patience of a saint—especially with me when various things came up that took me away from the blog—is a wealth of information for the team and other aspects of the sport and it was always a joy to just banter with; the blog is in great hands with him at the helm.
Words can't fully describe how much I love and cherish my friendships with these people. They're an extended family, and even though I'm sure we'll keep in touch to some extent, not interacting with them daily is going to suck.
As for the readers of this blog, you have done nothing but embrace me from day one. From Twitter to comments on blog posts, I've never felt like our readership disliked what I wrote. Sure, disagreements happen. Still, there was always a certain level of respect given to me, and I sincerely appreciated that during my time here (except for the [expletive]birds who live to be contrarian—[no need for] those clowns).
I wish I could reliably be the blog's credentialed media member moving forward, but it just isn't feasible for me moving forward, and it hurts me a lot to give up something I've loved so deeply for years. It's provided a new perspective on the sport for me that I will consistently utilize, and I wish I could've found a job writing about hockey, but...such is life.
Lastly, here are a few other big shoutouts that I feel are necessary (even though I know they likely won't read this):
- Erik Erlendsson of Lightning Insider - Erik, you're the GOAT of Lightning hockey coverage. You were the first actual reporter to talk to me and treat me like an equal. You provided some succinct advice, and your playful jabs about my Twitter posts were always fun. I know things have been a little tumultuous since the Tribune closed, but man, you are Lightning Hockey coverage, and I hope prominent outlets figure that out and hire you because they're missing out not having you on their staff.
- Joe Smith of The Athletic - Joe, you're awesome. Always kind, insightful, and willing to talk hockey whenever. We didn't speak a ton during my time in the press box with you, but whenever we did, you treated me as an equal, and that helped me feel welcome in a realm where I very much was the outsider, given my background.
- Steve Kinsella - Steve is a gem of a human being. More of a baseball guy, but whenever he did make it to a Lightning game, his enthusiasm and curiosity made it a joy to talk sports with—I'll always remember one of his most insightful pieces of advice, "Never underestimate the importance of reading CBAs. Read them front and back and keep a copy on hand; you won't regret it." You're the best, Steve. I hope you're doing well, my friend.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning - Folks, bloggers like me don't get credentialed by most NHL franchises. The fact that the Lightning saw our blog, and myself, as reputable news coverage speaks volumes to how the organization thinks and values perspectives and insight. At no point did I ever feel unwelcome, discriminated against, or even looked down upon. The entire organization is elite in every aspect, and I cannot thank them enough for giving a no-name blogger the chance to be credentialed and cover the team. From Brian Breseman (PR Director) to Bryan Burns (Manager of Communications) to Jon Cooper, never thinking I was lesser for being a blogger to the wonderful interactions with their social media team and other employees, I have nothing but positive things to say about being in the building with these people. They're fantastic, the team is incredible, and they deserve every ounce of positive acclaim possible.