Last night’s result was one that I have been dreading for awhile now. The 2016-17 season for the Milwaukee Admirals is over. It was my fifth around the team and fourth as Editor-in-Chief of Admirals Roundtable. It feels like the more I’m around the Admirals the more playoff exits such as last night sting. And this season it especially hurt to watch it finish so fast.
I said as much in today’s Chatterbox: this year’s team was a special one. While many get to view the on-ice product and talent associated on that level I’m fortunate to get to see that perspective as well as the behind the scenes views to get to know the team that little bit more. I always try to share that perspective as much as I can through interviews but lost in it can be some of the banter or other sights and sounds that come with being around a hockey team for a full-season up close.
This year’s Admirals team was a favorite of mine. The people associated with the team were all such good people and being around a group so upbeat like that is infectious. What you would hope for in an AHL affiliate is to create a positive environment for all the clashing of age, talent levels, personalities, and nationalities to come together and find a level of success through it. They came together immediately. It’s something that hasn’t always been true but you could see it quickly. And it’s why there were so few bad stretches over the course of this past season.
I think part of what was as crushing as being eliminated from the playoffs last night for the Admirals was realizing that group of people likely isn’t coming back next season. At first glance, there are 14 players that are at the end of their contracts with the completion of the 2016-17 season: Derek Army, Justin Florek, Frédérick Gaudreau, Jonas Gunnarsson, Mike Liambas, Marek Mazanec, Andrew O’Brien, Adam Pardy, Adam Payerl, Stephen Perfetto, Rick Pinkston, Mike Ribeiro, Mark Visentin, and Matt White. As great as it would be for those names to return the chances of so much as half of those names coming back are slim. The off-season coming up for the Nashville Predators and their AHL affiliate could very well be a busy one. Whether it be positive or negative isn’t known yet. What is known is that this year’s group was positive and deserved more than to be swept out of the playoffs. It’s sad that it ended early but those who were part of this year’s team all became better for having been part of it.
For all the players who took the time out after practices and games to provide interviews here on Admirals Roundtable: thank you for doing so. For the coaching staff and more associated around the team rinkside – Dean Evason, Stan Drulia, Scott Ford, David Rook, Scott Nichol, Ryan Costello, Doug Agnew, Jason Nordby, and the Equipment Crew of Kris, Adam, and Q – thank you for your time, the banter, and the insight.
Of course, thank you mentions wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the entire Milwaukee Admirals front office. This season was an adventure for the entire staff of the Admirals behind the scenes as they all embarked on this new adventure with the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It was always going to start as an adventure with Year-One featuring growing pains and learning experiences that all can be improved over time. I greatly enjoyed the return to the MECCA this season. I know it will be even better over time through fan feedback and the years of improvements still to come to renovating the classic venue which immediately felt like -home- for the Admirals this season.
And now to end on the personal note. I’ve had moments this season where I slipped away from the byline. There was a reason for doing that. This past season was quite possibly my last. It has been an immensely draining season for myself behind the scenes and one that has had me mentally burned out. I’ve been chasing a dream since I was 14-years old. I turn 29-years old this July and have spent the last five seasons with the Admirals living out my dream. Yet, reality has kicked the crap out of me all season long and the need of full-time work has taken over the hope for full-time work. I’ve lost the hope for full-time work. I really have. And while I’ve treated Admirals Roundtable as a full-time job for these past four seasons – it was never meant to be treated as such. If there was a happy medium? That would be great -but- I still need to detach and find it. If this season really was the last for me? It was the last season for me. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. I can’t think of anything more I could have done or things I would do differently. I am forever grateful to everyone who I’ve come across on this journey. I have met such great people and it is those relationships that have made my pursuit of this dream of mine even more of a dream worth chasing.
I suppose the end message here is that I don’t know what the future holds. Not for exactly what the Milwaukee Admirals will look like for the 2017-18 season or if myself will be there to cover it. I do know that the ride that was the 2016-17 season was a great one. I want to thank everyone for being part of it. This has been a hugely memorable one for me. And that’s courtesy of all of you.
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