I've been doing this since 2007. I think that makes HTP the longest-running Wild-centric blog out there. That and $2 still won't get you on the subway.
I got into this because I otherwise sit here in NY and watch the game and yell at the game and talk about the game - to myself, because I'm not in Minnesota. That's kind of lonely. So, I started out by bombarding Ye Olde Russoville's comments section. Then I moved into the blogging.
Let me tell you something about blogging, it's not always easy. Sure, it's nice not to be constrained by editors, and etiquette, or accountability. But, for those of us who aspire to do a good job, we choose to think about some of those things. Another thing about blogging about a sports team is that A) I'm not a journalist, B) I'm not an expert, C) I have another job, D) - and this one is critical - I don't have access to the team. A + B + C + D = an overall inability to add anything substantive to the discussion that is already presented by the pros who have access to the team, other than pure opinion. There's nothing wrong with that. There's a whole bunch of blogs out there that are super popular that only provide opinions. Some blogs try to pretend like they are a reasonable facsimile of professionalism. In sports, some blogs have even gained access to their team. I get the sense that very few of those (very few) bloggers who do so actually have the wherewithal to conduct themselves like the pros do. That's been my experience as a consumer of those blogs, anyway. I thought the T3I blog that covered the Aeros did the best job of bridging the gap between non-MSM, amateur blog and professional journalism, among the blogs that I have been familiar with. This blog never attempted that. Mostly because I'm in NY, and so I can only see the Wild play a couple times a year without getting on an airplane. And getting on an airplane 80-odd times a year for leisure was beyond my budget.
But, over the past couple years, our output has dwindled. Not, it should be pointed out, the conversations with no one about the Wild that I had, that were the impetus for this blog in the first place. Those continue to this day. But my wonderful wife has an understandable limit to the amount of Wild discussions she wants to have on a given day, and that limit is far, far, below my own. What changed was my belief that I could offer enough interesting opinion to remain a destination for Wild fans looking for opinions. I brought on other writers, whose opinions I enjoy reading. I think we could have made a nice go of it, and I like the idea of being an independent blog. Given our amateur status, that just feels more natural.
Enter Wild Xtra.
This is a new, independent Wild site. It will offer original articles from a good stable of writers. It will offer a community in which people - both Wild fans and not - can hang out. It is affiliated with the hugely successful Twins Daily (and their other new project, Vikings Journal). And it is where you will be able to find written content from my fellow HTP writers and me, from now on. For me, this represents a fix for the challenges I outlined above. I think Wild Xtra has something like 11 different staff writers. So, while my concern is that the opinions of one or a couple individual voices might not be enough to sustain a blog, I do think that the opinions of 11 individual voices is enough. The lifeblood of this kind of blog, in my opinion, is the community aspect it has the opportunity to build. There are other Wild-centric sites out there that have a community. I never cottoned to any of them. I'm willing to say that's more me than them, but it is what it is. The staff at Wild Xtra all seem like good, decent, interesting, non-arrogant people. People with whom I want to be associated. People who I feel will represent the core of what will be a positive force in the Wild fan universe. I think that's unique, and I think that's worthwhile. In short (too late), Wild Xtra is the answer to my prayers for my blogging identity.
About the future of HTP. Having started this place so long ago, and having been through so much with it (anyone else remember when it was selected by USA Hockey magazine as one of the top 10 hockey blogs in America? That was pretty cool) you will understand that I was reluctant to simply shut it down. The question for me is: with all of our written content going to Wild Xtra, what could HTP be used for? Here's what: we will continue to use HTP for live chats and as the place where you can find out podcast, The Five Minute Major. For now, I think that's enough, as we work on getting Wild Xtra up and running. But again, we will no longer be posting original written content here - that is all going over to Wild Xtra.
So, this isn't a good-bye. This is an evolution. Jared, Mike, Doubles and I are excited to cordially invite you over to our new place, Wild Xtra. We hope you continue to stop by here for chats and podcasts, we thank you for reading, we hope to continue to at least entertain you, and most importantly, we look forward to continuing to hoist some virtual beers with you as we hang out and discuss that crazy hockey team in St. Paul.
P.S.: Wild Xtra is shooting for a formal launch on Monday. However, you can head over there now, sign up so you can participate in the forums and write fan posts, and read some of the initial content we've come up with.