Just over three years ago, SB Nation was an upstart little spin-off from Democratic blogging juggernaut Daily Kos geared toward building communities of fans instead of stroking the egos of isolated pundits. The network already boasted a sizeable collection of baseball, football and basketball blogs, but had only just begun to expand into hockey. At the same time, I was a novice ice scribe shamelessly trolling for a regular spot on the With Leather link dumps via painful puns and asinine alliteration.
I saw an opportunity. I wanted to blog about the Avalanche full time instead of trying to verbally crap on the NHL as a whole, and SBN didn't yet have an Avalanche blog. So I sent an email, more or less begging for a spot on the network. They bought it, and a few weeks later Mile High Hockey was born.
Back then, Jose Theodore was the starting goaltender for Colorado and Paul Stastny was a snot-nosed rookie playing second-fiddle to one of the greatest centers and captains in the entire history of the NHL. Marek Svatos was still scoring around 30 goals a season. And workhorse Andrew Brunette was appreciated by the coaching staff, which was led by Joel "Kitten Killer" Quenneville. It all seems so long ago.
MHH started modestly, with just a couple hundred members and a small core of dedicated commentators. Posting was primarily done by me with a little help on the side by David and Mike (both of whom I eventually stole from other blogging gigs). Over time, though, the monster grew.
In the three years since its creation, Mile High Hockey has changed significantly. SBN completely revamped their platform into what you see today, integrating team stats and schedules while expanding dramatically the administrative options open to both bloggers and community members.
In late 2008, I started law school, which paved the way for David to take over as the head honcho. Under his guidance, MHH has improved in every metric of success: membership, participation, media recognition and page views. There are now more than 1400 registered members, seven staff members, game and event threads that number over 1000 comments on a regular basis, and constant mentions and links from newspaper reporters, radio hosts and fellow sports bloggers. And now more than 1 million total visitors to the site.
But Mile High Hockey's success can't be attributed to just me, or David, or any of the regular staff members. It can't be attributed to just SBN or even to the Avalanche (definitely not the Avalanche). Credit for this site's success (not to mention its many memes and player nicknames) rests squarely on the shoulders of the people who make this one of the funniest, most thought-provoking, and friendliest online sports communities: the members. You.
Without amazing and prolific partipants like Americanario, SlamDunkTheFunk, Jibblescribbits, sandiegee, thedoctor, Savage33, Bob in Boulder, Pinchy The Lobster, the various incarnations of Beachie, An Unmitigated Disaster, i2strange97, Hopfenkopf, mfured20, hockeymom, Dario, chiavsfan, gl avfan, Rather Dashing, Uziel, SportsDalaiLama, Mrs @ MHH, Drakenlot, Dixomatic, Tommelot, Dan Winkler, horbayj, TheRed, InYoFace, UZ, Derek B, texacogirl, Avalanche318, and Hardshell_Taco_del_Lowayne, this community would be nothing. And that's just the people with over 1000 total comments.* Every other member who has ever participated in a comment thread or posted a fan post or a fan shot deserves credit, too!
My point is, Mile High Hockey's success is built on the amazing fans that keep it interesting with thousands upon thousands of insightful, sarcastic and hilarious comments. I've read many comments and emails over the past three years from people who now couldn't imagine their lives without this web site. Don't thank me, thank yourselves!
I'll leave you all with a quote from one of my favorite bloggers, Glenn Greenwald, who sums up why I think the mission of SBN and communities like Mile High Hockey are so important:
The ability to interact and engage with readers, rather than speak to them in monologue form, has always been one of the things that has most appealed to me about writing a blog. Several of the posts I've written which received the most attention, made the biggest impact, came directly from readers/commenters.
For those reasons, I'm amazed when journalists scorn their comment sections and treat them like a nuisance or worse. The interactive aspect of writing on the Internet -- being able immediately to hear from smart, opinionated, engaged readers who often know things that the writer doesn't know -- is one of the forum's biggest advantages.
Thanks, everybody! Now let's make it two million visits!
*I tried to include as many prolific members as possible. If you've posted over 1000 comments to MHH but don't see your name on the list, comment and let me know. I'll make sure you're added!