Look Who Woke Up (Welcome Back)

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and take a look around. That’s what I had to do this summer.

I have been writing here at The Sunshine Skate for a while now. I wrote a pre-game column for almost every Panthers game played since I joined the site in November 2014. I took deep dives with subjects both on and off the ice. I have celebrated triumphs with the rest of you, and taken issue with things that have bothered me. Overall, I am happy with the job I have done here at The Sunshine Skate, and I am eager to get back to work this season.

However, this is not to say everything has been perfect. At the end of last season, I could not escape one truth: I was tired. I had been burning my candle at both ends. I was running down pre-game coverage in a misguided effort to populate the blog. It led me to put out uninspired, middling content. In total, I was spending less time covering the aspects of Panthers hockey I wanted to focus on. I was left feeling less than fulfilled by the content I was generating.

So rather than suffer you with something boring and uninspired this summer, I elected to take a hiatus. I took time to focus on things outside of Pantherland. I played video games. I read books. I watched baseball. I went to concerts. I took a vacation to visit family. I did pretty much everything except blog about hockey or the Florida Panthers.

The time has come to end my hiatus, though.

True, I focused on other things and did not blog at all this summer. This site fell dark. I never went long without thinking about this place though. I often gleaned wisdom from what I was doing, and applied it to my concept for this place. Ultimately, I have landed on some key thoughts for The Sunshine Skate this season:

Commitment to Quality

I read a book called Trust Me, I’m Lying this summer, and it was a very interesting read for me as a blogger. I won’t get into a book review here, but I have to admit this book made a great impact on my concept for The Sunshine Skate in 2016-17.

One of the biggest problems with blogging presented in the book is how blogs are incentivized. Creating quality content, or serving you, the reader, with good information is not the main goal of many blogs. It is, instead, about making content that gets as many of your clicks and traffic as possible. This leads to a race for content which may or may not have substance, but will get a lot of traffic regardless. This creates an environment ripe for media manipulation and the spread of misinformation.

I wish to not contribute to this cycle of vapid content. I will do the best within my power to serve you, the reader, with quality content as a result. Content that strives for more than clicks and notoriety. You deserve as much.

This unfortunately starts with a good-bye.

The Death of the Pre-Game Skate

The PGS has been my bread and butter since starting at The Sunshine Skate. I believed it was one of my strengths. Now, I believe I was fooling myself. These columns were fun and informative when I started doing them early in the season. The season was fresh, and baggage was yet to accumulate. The problem is things never remained this way. The PGS became a bigger chore as the seasons wore on, and the content within it became forced more and more. Yet, I pressed on in a misguided effort to churn out content on a regular basis.

This was a mistake.

So in 2016-17, the PGS is no more. If you enjoyed seeing this every game day, I apologize, but it is for the best. I can not look anyone in the eye and tell you the PGS was a quality feature over the last half of either of my seasons. It served only to show that we were still posting content. It was empty calorie content, and I am done making such content. This is not to say I, or any of the other writers, won’t offer a column on a game day going forward. It just won’t be a PGS. Instead, my focus is on getting 2 to 3 quality articles on the site every week, regardless of game day status or who writes it.

We have never gotten content out on a daily basis, and that is okay. We won’t pretend that this is our goal. Instead, you have our promise that content published here will be well-written, well-researched, and well-thought out.

Whereto From Here?

If the PGS is no more, and we are not committing to generating content on a daily/near-daily basis, what will our content look like?

Remember when Aleksander Barkov’s then-upcoming contract extension got a closer inspection? How about speculation regarding Erik Gudbranson, prior to his trade? The drafting of Henrik Borgstrom? We covered all of these things, and gave quality takes in doing so. This is the best of what we do, and you can expect more of it from us this season.

Analysis is not all we will do either. We’re going to put an emphasis on fun things too. Satire, shitposting, and otherwise dopey fun is in order. Think of things like Cat Tracks post-game recaps, without a regular commitment. This is something I have wanted to explore, but was prevented from doing so due to of my content approach. I am no longer so limited, this is your warning. Go ahead and hide the kittens.

Tl;dr verison: I took some time off, thought about some shit, and I, along with the rest of the site, am ready to take on the new season. Joy!

Welcome back to The Sunshine Skate, it’s good to be back in the saddle.

AJ Bruhn

About AJ Bruhn

AJ is the Managing Editor of The Sunshine Skate, and can be reached on Twitter below.