This is always such a conflicting post to make. It’s the end-season thanks and goodbye. On one-hand I hold the congratulatory applause from so many warm and caring fans who are sharing their appreciation for a season of hard work that I’ve put in. On the other hand I hold yet another Milwaukee Admirals season that has ended far sooner than it should have.
There are several talking points that could be brought up from last night’s game that saw the Admirals get eliminated in the opening round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs. No question about it. Fear not though because that will have its time and place for discussion. The shortest sentiment that I offer up now is that it was a game of utter frustration and confusion that thundered to the ground. The season is over. It’s over right when it should have been getting at it’s absolute best. And it is just unfortunate.
I try my best to leave myself as the simple byline to all that you see associated with Admirals Roundtable. I always rather leave the focus where the interests are greater. That of course meaning to put and leave the spotlight on the team and the players. This post isn’t going to be totally done that way. Instead this is my chance to open up and talk more about me and my own experiences of the season that was.
2016-16 marked my third-season running things here at Admirals Roundtable. It also marked my fourth-season with the Admirals dating back to my internship season of 2012-13 where I was able to contribute to their 35th Anniversary campaign. It feels like every season I’ve taken part of since that debut season becomes my new best season. That happens not as a solo effort but thanks to the unbelievable amount of people associated with the work that I’m privileged to say is work for me. I made mention of this on Facebook, in relation to the final regular season game played at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but I can expand on it more here. The people who work tirelessly behind the curtain make doing what I do all the more special.
It didn’t take long for me to realize as an intern that the fun loving chemistry of the entire Admirals front office is a reflection of the people in charge. Admirals Owner/CEO Harris Turer and President Jon Greenberg are such friendly, caring, family oriented, and fun people to be around. Throughout this season their tireless work behind the scenes have kept this franchise right here in Milwaukee. The season may have ended last night but I can almost guarantee you that those two are now heavily focused on making sure that the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena will feel more of a home for Admirals fans than ever before. For as much of a focus is on the on-ice product there is an on-ice product for years to come thanks to these two. With how they set the tone from the top that same level of care comes out from everyone else associated with the front office. Admirals VP/Communications Charlie Larson is right there to assist whenever I want to conduct interviews. So much of the content you get out of this website comes thanks to having someone like Charlie who keeps the doors so open to me in being able to shine the spotlight on the team and players as I chose to. Admirals broadcaster Aaron Sims, who we are all so fortunate to have as our play-by-play man, always makes himself available to me so I can throw him questions when I miss out on things on the road and is always such joy to hear tell stories around the rink.
The Admirals coaching staff and players have been incredible to me this season. Such a massive part of why last night was such a painful experience was knowing how tightly knit this year’s group was. It really was a special team with countless wonderful people. Whether I was speaking with Dean Evason, Stan Drulia, or Scott Ford the coaching staff always welcomed me in as a reporter to ask away my questions and provided very humble and honest answers. The same can be said of the players they coached up this season. There were so many new faces this season from last season but everyone seemed to gel together so well so early. There are always incredible characters in a hockey locker room. The Admirals weren’t short of that at all this season. You had a trio from Québec with their very own nickname. You had a Russian teenager that was adapting to what had to feel like an alien world around him but never seemed to let that change his happy demeanor. There were players dead set on redemption over previous individual misfortunes. Players not knowing how much longer they can continue playing pro hockey in this country or at all. And others just simply trying to make it. When you eliminate the players and simply look at who the Admirals are as people the world I come back to is genuine. There were so many high quality people that wore an Admirals sweater this season and it has been an honor getting to know so many of them. I always admire how humble hockey players truly are. It’s an infectious attitude when you’re around a team the likes of which the Admirals had in 2015-16. And I cannot thank the team enough for simply being themselves.
Then there are many individuals I bump shoulders with (often literally) who make getting to the rink that much more fun. The man with the blog Dave Boehler is always so much fun ribbing throughout the season. Our linemate, aka our table buddy, Sam Sirna is also always great for keeping things light during the grind of working away as he spins the music at home games. Mario Tirabassi for being a laugh when he turns up to cover games. Nate Haeni and Kristen Wooten of the Rockford IceHogs who both made my first road trips so much fun (and easy) to take in.
I always have to thank the many countless people in Nashville, Cincinnati, or abroad for all the fun that this hockey season has provided. Justin Bradford of Penalty Box Radio for having me on the airwaves a number of times this season and venturing up to Wisconsin-land to have a jolly fun time. Kristopher Martel, Jeremy K. Gover, Robby Stanley, and Cutler Klein for the usual Nashville shenanigans we get up to throughout the season. The fine people of On The Forecheck and Predlines for always sharing Admirals Roundtable and giving Nashville a spotlight to Milwaukee. Dakota Johnson of Sin Bin Cyclones for always keeping me informed on how the Cincinnati Cyclones are doing so that I can give proper insight on the Admirals ECHL affiliate. Sean Shapiro and Stephen Meserve on offering up such fun AHL beats down in Texas and Patrick Williams for doing the same up in Manitoba. Again, countless individuals that I could keep rattling off that remind me that the sports media business isn’t the shark tank that I expected it to be but rather one big loving community where we all support one another.
Last, and most important of all, you fans reading this I owe the biggest thanks of all. I’m almost overwhelmed by how much Admirals Roundtable has grown in the three-years that I’ve headed it up. It’s breathtaking. There is something special about this sport and work when I can finish a story that I slaved away on into the middle of the night, publish it, and there will still be early birds in Europe excited to get to read it ASAP. Those that know me, possibly even those that don’t, probably know just how hard and how much time I spend putting work into this. I still lack a full-time job on the sports business so I treat Admirals Roundtable as just that. All I think about are ways to improve what it is that you see, get, read, or listen to here. I obsess over it and I want this to be the go-to place for Milwaukee Admirals information, Predators prospects coverage, and just an enjoyable place to talk hockey. All the hard work and sleepless nights that go into what you see is made all the more enjoyable because of each and everyone of you. I love this. I love this even more because you all let me be myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have met so many great people purely because of the work that has come through Admirals Roundtable. That’s special. All of you make it special.
What comes next? Well, truth be told, I hadn’t mapped out any sort of end-season columns yet. I wasn’t planning the Admirals season ending so early. Last season it was a little more obvious but this was a blindside hit that has me… well.. all of us.. stuck in the mud for a short while. You should expect some of what you saw last season in regards to the End-Season Report Card, Season in Pictures, as well as multiple Best-of content. None of that was prepped though. So it won’t come right away. Be patient. I’ll get to it in due time.
For Admirals fans still bitter or sad over last night: don’t be. We can’t get caught being too selfish wanting the Admirals to be Calder Cup champions or bust. A swift playoff exit shouldn’t mean that the regular season was a waste. This season, no matter how it ended, was special to be part of whether you were a fan, reporter, front office staffer, coach, or player. What life at the AHL level provides is experience. Everyone this season experienced one of the most special teams in Admirals history at a time when we said goodbye to a building that the Pettits had built for the purpose of hosting a hockey team twenty-eight years ago. This season was a success. We were all part of it. Thanks for being part of it with me.
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