A Fond Farewell

 

Thanks to a friend, I started watching hockey in 2008. I followed the Philadelphia Flyers and cheered as they found their way to the Eastern Conference playoffs.

That year, I fell in love with the game. The next year, I watched the entire season. The next year, I watched again.

As a student at Virginia Tech, I watched most of the games online. I would sit at local sports bars on the weekend and watch with fellow fans although there weren’t many.

In Virginia, hockey never once crossed the grid as I grew up. I had no memories of Eric Lindros or Mario Lemieux. There were no ice rinks.

I can’t skate, I’ve never played hockey and I have no idea how I would go about trying to do either.

Yet, I kept watching. I was infatuated with the game and everything that came with it. It was a new and exciting event for a lifetime sports fan.

When the Flyers faced the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, I wrote a blog on my personal site.

The biased fan blog previewed the series.

George Efpraxiadis, the co-owner of this site, found the blog and offered me a spot to write.

My first post was before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Flyers trailed 3-0 and we all know what happened after that.

The next season, I wrote and wrote. I tried to cover each game from the comfort of my couch.

I distinctly remember missing a post on a night when someone close to me ended our relationship. With the game on mute, I talked for hours with her.

Time moves on, but the games still mean so much to someone invested.

It was a symbol of my interest in the game. At that point in my life, hockey meant everything.

That winter, I was offered a gig to cover the Flyers in-person by Inside Hockey’s Kevin Greenstein. At that point, I had come to the realization that law school wasn’t for me.

As a Philosophy major, I knew I had to stick to the truths I found. One of them was that I wanted to be a sportswriter.

It was too late to go into the journalism department. I graduated from school in December of 2010 and decided to take what money I had and cover the Flyers for the duration of the season.

I slept on couch after couch in the Philadelphia area. I drove three hours from my home and back to be in Wells Fargo Center for the games. One night, a four hour drive turned into a nine-and-a-half hour journey through a massive snowstorm.

The next day, I was at the game. I was where I wanted to be. I was where I needed to be.

Being a fan fell by the wayside as objective analysis of the team came to the forefront. I worked as hard as I could.

In the process, I met some great writers. I had the opportunity to talk to Hall of Fame players. I’ve shared some great conversations with NHL stars. There were hockey people I met who left a tremendous impression on me.

Many of the friends I met through hockey have become my closest.

I’ve been pretty damn lucky.

All this for a kid who decided to start writing about a sport he just learned.

The game brought me success and a start to a resume. In the summer following that season, I took a job with a local online news site.

Eventually, we started TCLFlyers.com and I ran it from my home in Virginia. After that, I gladly accepted George’s offer to run this site.

After the season, we all got locked out from the sport we love.

In that time, I came to a conclusion that hurt but needed to be acknowledged.

At this point, manning the controls at TCL isn’t for me. No, it must be given to someone else. There is no next hockey site to jump to, just the realization that I need to diversify in my career.

I will still watch as much hockey as I can, but it’s not fair to me or TCL to have me in charge.

George will appoint the right people to run the site that means so much more to me than words or photos.

This site brought me a career. George’s initial offer to blog turned into a friendship that I cherish. In every way, I owe whatever success I find to TCL.

Sometimes, we have to move on. I move on knowing that the sport with the best fans in the world will enjoy the content this site has to offer.

For those who read and trafficked, I thank you for your patience through our growth. It was a pleasure writing and managing content for your eyes to read.

For those who wrote at the site, thank you for your time and effort. You have been tremendous colleagues and friends.

To everyone else, I hope you take this as a note to show what can happen with an opportunity. Recognize what you love and give yourself to it. If someone who grew up outside of hockey can grow into it, anyone can grow into anything.

It has been hard for me to write this. Yet, I leave nothing off the page that needed to be said. I have taken advantage of my power play.

Thank you.

Mark.

2 Comments

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

You did a great job running TCL Mark! Keep in touch!

Shane Brennan's picture

Best of luck, Mark! Thanks for everything.