Empire of Dirt

2017-18 is in the books. The Washington Capitals are your Stanley Cup Champions. The Colorado Eagles secured back-to-back Kelly Cup crowns before they will elevate up to the American Hockey League in 2018-19 as the new affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. And last night the Toronto Marlies defeated the Texas Stars to earn the first Calder Cup in their franchise’s history. Across the board, NHL/AHL/ECHL, this may have been the most thrilling playoff season in the sport’s history.

“What happens next,” you ask.

In the past this was a question with a simple answer and a mapped out off-season guide. The NHL Awards aren’t that far away. That’s followed by the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas. Before you know it there is Nashville Predators Development Camp and the start of NHL Free Agency. Yet what happens next in regards to Admirals Roundtable is an answer that is no longer clear.

I am a big believer in honesty. So I will be as open and transparent with the news that took place this past Monday as I can be.

Admirals Roundtable has been a fan blog backed by the Milwaukee Admirals. It was created and operated by Ryan Miller with an aim of having fun and giving fans a place to go and banter about their local professional hockey team. I had finished the 2012-13 season as a communications intern with the Milwaukee Admirals and it coincided with Ryan becoming a first-time dad and looking to move on with the website. If I wasn’t around, or willing to take on the role at that time, Admirals Roundtable would have died five-years ago.

From the moment Admirals Roundtable was first offered to me by Milwaukee Admirals VP/Communications, Charlie Larson, I was fully aware that there was next to no money in it. The real satisfaction would come from the work itself.

In the five-seasons I have had as Editor-in-Chief of Admirals Roundtable I can say that there was nothing I wanted to do more than this. I was chasing my dream and, like the communications internship out of college, it was an opportunity to make my dream of working in sports become a reality. This chase became my full-time job. The hunt of working in the sports industry, which so often times means working for nothing until you find or make a break for yourself, was my life from the moment I started writing for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s student newspaper. I’ve never stopped trying to improve. I’ve never stopped believing in myself. But time is cruel and optimism can erode.

These last two seasons have been incredibly difficult for myself. It has been a battle between the hope and passion that I have of making an impossible dream exist versus the painful reality of reality. I do not have the financial means to support myself and haven’t this entire time. This was the path that I chose to walk. I knew it going in and I know it now. If I was going to be who I wanted to become this was the opportunity to grow. I have and have for the better. But as seasons come and go, as players arrive and depart, and as teams uproot and move or completely dissolve: my calling for one chance and hope for that one job has been answered by nothing louder than silence and the passage of time.

This past Monday the Milwaukee Admirals informed me that Admirals Roundtable will no longer receive the funding that has kept it and myself going strong. The path that I put myself on has stopped.

“What happens next,” is a question that looks back at me with cold eyes and kills me every single time I keep asking it in my head. I have been privileged to be around the Milwaukee Admirals these last six-years. I am so fortunate for every single person that I have met and so incredibly proud of the work that I have been able to accomplish. The man that I am today is better because of the experiences that I have had through Admirals Roundtable. I have loved this like nothing else and every part of me wants to find a way to see this dream stay alive. I just do not have an answer as to how it can.

I have had Development Camp in Nashville at month’s end circled on my calendar for awhile now. Nashville has always delivered, always. It’s become a place that reminds me of how not alone I really am and of the warmth and kindness the hockey community provides. I need every ounce of that right now and I will be there.

Until that time, my thanks to you -the Admirals Roundtable audience- cannot be stated enough. The “Roundtable” has had a seat for all of us, you and I, but you have been the driving force in keeping discussions going and making this so much fun to be able to do and keep doing. There are so many individuals who I haven’t even had the chance to meet in-person and I love them for contributing to the growth of this website and my journey as a person. You reading this now have made my life better. And I can’t thank you enough for that.

Daniel Lavender
Admirals Roundtable

8 thoughts on “Empire of Dirt”

  1. This is TERRIBLE news for me Daniel Lavender. You have done such a fantastic job with this website. I stayed informed week after week and I relied on your information posted with news and game updates (before each game and real time game scoring) and pictures and wonderful players and coaches interviews and answering to question fans posted. This news breaks my heart for you and me. I hope there is a way to keep this type of communication you provided via the Admirals Roundtable going and find funding for it. I know the Milwaukee Admirals have a Twitter account but the information is sporadic and not timely enough for a parent who has a son playing 2,000+ miles away. Thank you for all the wonderful work you have done with the Admirals Round Table. I refuse to believe that it is over and hope that the organization can find a way to keep this going. Best Regards, Susanna Moy

  2. I don’t know what it costs to run the site, but I can’t imagine it costs that much. As Susan Moy said you proved a lot of information, plus interviews that the Admirals do not do themselves. I don’t read the journal-sentinel and no offense to who ever covers the team, but I suspect you supply more info than who ever the beat reporter is. Maybe the Ads can start a go fund me page. I can’t imagine that the other teams in the AHL has a person such as yourself that devotes so much effort to keep their fans informed. Like Susan hope something can be worked out. One of my sons works on the NBC affiliate in Green Bay. His second time up there after working for NBC in Madison. He directs, edits etc for the news shows. He still applies for jobs that will make him more money. So I understand how difficult it is to find a job in the media business. If things do not work out here, good luck in finding a dream job.

  3. Daniel, no matter what happens, I don’t think your contributions the past 5 years can be overstated. You’ve done great work with this site. It’s too bad the team doesn’t want to continue it as I think it’s easily and by far the best site covering an AHL team. As sanford943 said, it’d be interesting to know how much it actually costs to run the site (minus anything paid to you that is).

    In terms of honesty, this reminds me of how you wrote early in the 2017-2018 season about how the team was okay with status quo in terms of marketing and attendance, as long as the die-hards stay, that’s good enough. I enjoy going to games, but sadly, I think you’re right on that. Honestly, this site could have been used to get more fans!

    Don’t discount the connections you’ve made through doing this site, though. Maybe it’s an opportunity in disguise. It took me 12 years after college to figure out that I really didn’t like what I was doing and to be willing to take a chance on something different.

    Good luck to you sir.

  4. This is horrible news. I always look forward to information from the admirals round table as it was the only place that didn’t share tweet, re-tweet, and retweet again information. The interviews were great, the news updates were awesome, and the information was timely. Thank you for everything you’ve done, good luck to you in the future

  5. This really is awful to hear, from a STH who really relies on this site and your Twitter feed for news, interviews and personal opinions on the team I really am sad to see this come to an end. So many in the hockey community mention your page as one of the best out there covering an AHL squad how the Admirals Organization doesn’t see the value in that is truly disappointing. They could get rid of half of the promotions or giveaways and support this site and you most importantly, I go to the games and then check this site because it keeps me in loop with this team, and keeps close to what going on with thetteam. The Admirals are blip on the Wisconsin Sports coverage radar but what you bring to the Table gives the fans of this team what we want coverage, analysis and in depth reporting. Whatever you do sir I know you’re gonna do great and the results you deliver will be top notch because seeing what you were delivering on your own dime shows how dedicated you are to your work! All the best wishes, good vibes and prayers to you sir on your future!!! Your work and dedication will truly be missed…..

  6. Daniel, your site has kept me informed way beyond the MJS. I quoted it all the time on Hockey Forums because you were frequently ahead of all other news sources that were covering the Admirals or the Predators. Being a STH, this site meant a lot to me. As FRJ said, “Your work and dedication will truly be missed…..” I really can’t add to his words or to the others who posted beyond it being the end of an era that began with Ryan Miller and the Admirals Short Shifts. The best of luck to you!

  7. I agree with everyone above. It’s a disappointment that there isn’t enough in the budget to fund this site and an outstanding journalist such as yourself. The MJS can’t hold a candle to your coverage of the team. It’s as though they don’t want to hear the truth only what makes them look/feel/sound good, as wit anything else that’s not entirely possible. Good luck Daniel, you have the skills of a GREAT reporter and journalist!

  8. Late to the party here a bit, but yeah…I want to echo the sentiments from all previous commenters. You were hands-down the best way to get Admirals news. Basically the only way to get Admirals news that was in-depth. You covered a minor league team like a major league team. It was amazing. Truly is a shame that the Admirals themselves don’t recognize this. It’s mind-boggling actually. Like…what? Really? Harris? Jon? Charlie? Wtf guys?? Do you not care about informing your fan base? Do you not care about feature stories so that your fans can learn about the players here in this community? Such a shame. They cannot even upload a video on YouTube/Facebook that has audible sound. It’s—quite frankly—embarrassing.

    You covered this team with heart, passion, and style. All things I’m looking for when I’m a diehard fan of a team in my hometown. Best of luck in the future. Please try and keep your head up and know that your coverage really meant a lot to the hardcore and true fans of hockey in Milwaukee. I really hope that fortune shines on you somehow and you’ll be approached to write about this team or the big one down in Nashville. Stay strong man. Go Ads.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s