The Colorado Avalanche begin the regular season on October 9th, against the Boston Bruins at home in the Pepsi Center. As that day nears, we've got a lot going on here at Mile High Hockey.
If you've got a few minutes to kill, read the full post and get a feel for all the cool new things we've got going for us.
First of all, the 2nd Annual Avalanche Blogger Roundtable is ongoing, with three of the eight days already knocked out. While I wasn't as involved in putting the whole thing together this year as I was last year (e.g. not at all involved), I was just as excited to participate and offer my own little tidbits of stupidity (stupidbits?) to the conversation. The Avalanche blogging community seems like one giant family to me, and the level of competency is remarkably high considering we're all just losers on the Internet. Hopefully we'll have as much fun this year making real journalists look stupid as we did in 2007-08.
Secondly, this will be the first season with the new SB Nation site platform. While the hockey sites still have far, far fewer bells and whistles as all the other sports (seriously, check out all the stats, schedules and widgets the baseball blogs have going for them), we've got a lot more to work with than we did under the old-school platform.
As we wait for expanded features of our own, I'll be adding third party widgets to the sidebars to fill in the gaps. You'll already notice the ESPN scoreboard on the right side of the screen (pardon the float-over ad, it wasn't my idea). Once they get it up, I'll also add a Northwest Division standings widget as well. Doing it myself with a simple HTML table is a pain in the ass and I don't feel like doing that again. So until SB Nation hooks me up with a built-in version of our own, I'll be using ESPN's. If anyone knows of a better standings widget, please let me know. ESPN sucks and I don't really want to help them get more money.
Now, for the features.
The first---and coolest feature, in my opinion---is the auto-refreshing comment threads. For those of us who visited Pensburgh during the Stanley Cup Finals, we know how awesome it was to have new comments just stream right in without having to hit any buttons or wait for the page to reload. Game threads should be even more fun this season than they were last year because of this.
Second, speaking of game threads, the new platform allows me to build the game threads ahead of time and let them auto-post at a predesignated time. So, in case I'm unable (or unwilling) to write a preview for each game, the comments thread will still appear prior to game time, and everybody will be happy. I'm still working on getting overflow threads to auto-post (once a comment ceiling is hit on the original thread), so bear with me on that one.
On a related note, if you click on the menu bar at the top of the screen, where it says "Schedule," you'll see the Avalanche game schedule for the 2008-09 season. Unfortunately, while all the other sports in SB Nation get these automatically included, the hockey sites have to build their own. Which means I had to add each and every game by hand. Which sucked. And for some reason SB Nation takes a while to populate the lists, so some of the April games still aren't showing up---but they will. The point is, you can go to "Schedule," pick a game and select "coverage" on the right. That link will show you any and all game threads and related posts linked to that event. That means if the game was between two teams represented by two SB Nation blogs, you'll get to see the previews and threads from both of them. For the Avalanche game against the Sabres on October 25th, you'll be able to see both our thread(s) and the game thread from Die By the Blade. Pretty cool, huh?
Granted, it's cool if it works. It seems to work everywhere else, but hockey is still a work in progress at SB Nation, so it may have a few bumps in the road for a while. We'll see.
The third cool feature is of course the more accessible FanPosts and FanShots, which allow site members to add their own content in a prominently-featured way. Everyone's been great about using these and I encourage you to continue. These can also be viewed in message board-style list form, by the way. And, as you've already seen, if you write something really great, or scoop me on a big story, your work will get promoted to the front page and all the glory is yours. Trust me, I have enough glory to just give some of it away, so don't hesitate to write great posts and scoop me on stories.
Addendum: SB Nation has just rolled out a new mobile format for all the network's blogs, which will improve how each site looks on cell phones and PDAs. For more info go here. To see how the mobile version of this site looks, go here.
Now, on a personal note: I'm currently juggling my time between a 40-hour a week management job and part-time law school, which, I have to admit, kind of sucks. I'm also blogging full-assedly here and half-assedly at The Hockey News. And I'm also involved in a couple of other hockey blogging-related projects of various sorts on top of all that. So I'm booked pretty solid. If, at some point during the season, I seem a little distant or around a little less, I beg everyone to have patience with me. Don't leave! I'll be relying on Mike and Drafty to help me keep this thing going, and I know they won't let us all down---they're good kids, if a little bratty at times (go to your rooms!).
Let's enjoy the season and keep Mile High Hockey as interesting and fun as it always has been. As members and readers, you are as much a part of this thing as I am, and it couldn't be done without you. Thanks!