Today is my last day as the hockey editor for Bucky's 5th Quarter.
I've known this was coming for a while, but that doesn't make it any easier. The people I work with at B5Q are the best, so it's tough to leave a website that has made such incredible progress since its inception.
As many of you know, I've been working as a scout in the USHL over the past few seasons. My responsibilities there, as well as in my personal life, have left increasingly less time to put into the blog. I have a high standard for content, and I always told myself that if I felt I wasn't capable of living up to that standard, it was time to move on.
Over this past season I noticed my production was declining. Not only in total output, but quality as well. This hobby, which started as an outlet for fun, increasingly felt more and more like a job. So, it's time to move on.
First, I'd like to thank a few people that have been influential in the decade of my life I dedicated to covering the Wisconsin hockey program.
I've had a few stops in my journey as a writer, starting with my own personal blog somewhere around the 2005-06 season. I also made stops at "Hockey in Wisconsin" and "60 Minutes. No Alibis. No Regrets." before finding a home at Bucky's 5th Quarter.
While the other sites were fun, none had the resources we now have here at B5Q on the SB Nation platform. I have to thank Adam Hoge, the original creator of this website, for talking me into joining him on the team here. He's since moved on to full-time work as a Chicago Bears insider on WGN Radio in Chicago.
Adam's replacement at Bucky's 5th Quarter, Mike Fiammetta, has been instrumental in taking what Adam started and building on it and taking us to the next level. Mike's dedication to quality has given everyone that writes under the B5Q umbrella a sense of pride when we look at our work at the end of the day.
We've had dozens of other writers and editors at B5Q over the years, but I wanted to send a personal thanks to Phil Mitten, Jake Kocorowski and Andrew Rosin for the countless hours and dedication over the past few years.
A special thanks also goes out to Nicole Haase, who covers Wisconsin Women's hockey for us, and Matt Masterson and CharlieWisco who have helped out on the Men's hockey side.
Larry Radloff has also been instrumental in our success here. We have a zero dollar budget for travel and photos, but Larry has given us access to his outstanding photo catalog and has never asked for anything in return. He's really good at what he does and is one of the nicest guys I've ever met.
I want to thank Badgers head coach Mike Eaves for treating me like a professional in all of our interactions, even if I didn't always deserve that courtesy. I have little doubt I've written stories or asked dumb questions that made Mike want to punch me in the face, but he's always treated me like a professional. And that's all I can ask for.
The same goes for the assistant coaches that have worked under Eaves during my time covering the team. A special thanks to Gary Shuchuk, who I've had a chance to talk to when we've run into each other on the road scouting on a number of occasions over the past few seasons. Regardless of recent results, I'm not sure anyone cares more about the success of the Wisconsin hockey program than Gary Shuchuk.
Paul Capobianco, the communications director for the Men's hockey team, always provided me with access when I needed it. I may have not been on the same level of some of the other members of the media covering the program, but Capo always made everyone feel like they were on the same professional level.
The voice of the Badgers, Brian Posick, is the best in the business. Plain and simple. He calls an outstanding game, provides valuable insights on his various media platforms throughout the week, and is genuinely one of the best people I've come across in this business. I've yet to meet someone who doesn't get along with Brian.
I'd be crazy if I didn't thank the current and former players that have come through the program in the past decade. The players have been great to me over the years and I've gotten to know a few here and there off the ice and sincerely thank all of them for taking the time to do interviews and put up with my articles that they may not have always agreed with.
This may surprise some people, but Paul Rovnak, who runs communications for Minnesota Athletics is one of the most influential people in my time covering the Badgers. Paul is the one who privately encouraged me to apply for credentials to cover games and media events in person. At the time I was an anonymous blogger. Paul challenged me to be better and make my site better.
Chris Dilks is a pioneer in our field and was one of the reasons I started doing what I'm doing. Chris doesn't get nearly enough credit for the time he puts in to watch college hockey prospects and turn it into blog material. The Western College Hockey blog, what is now known as SB Nation College Hockey, has been a daily destination for hockey fans for well over a decade.
Todd Milewski is another reason why I started writing. When he was covering the Badgers for the Cap Times in Madison I couldn't get enough of his work. It's a shame that he was reassigned within the newspaper, but his work with USCHO has been industry leading. I was fortunate enough to write recruiting features for him at USCHO the past few years, and I can honestly say it was truly an honor to do so.
There are a number of college hockey beat writers that have accepted me into their fraternity despite my lack of traditional credentials. Brad Schlossman from the Grand Forks Herald is hands down the best in the country. No one works harder than he does, and college hockey is blessed to have someone like him covering the sport. I'm glad to call him a friend and will look forward to reading his work for years to come.
Other writers that have covered college hockey and challenged me to be better include Joe Paisley, Kevin Pates, Eric Stromgren, Matt Wellens, Chris Peters, Dan Myers, Nate Wells, Shane Frederick, Jess Myers, Matthew Semisch, Mick Hatten, Ken Schott, Tyler Buckentine, Michael Russo, Justin Emerson, Jeremy Dewar, Drew Claussen, Mark Divver, Jason Gonzalez and Jack Hittinger.
College Hockey News has a stable of talented journalists. Some of my favorites include Adam Wodon, Ryan Evans, Jashvina Shah, Joe Meloni, Mike McMahon and Tony Jovenitti. I'll add Scott McLaughlin to that list, too, even though he's moved on to WEEI.
While we're at it, Jeff Cox and Mike Eidelbes deserve some recognition for the work they've done in college hockey, same with Bruce Ciskie and Ashley Chase.
National hockey media members like Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Joe Yerdon, Dave Starman, Dan Kelly, Neate Sager, Ryan Kennedy and Katie Baker were major influences, as I consider them some of the best media members in sports, regardless of the platform they perform on.
Local Madison media members Mike Heller, Phil Dawson, Jon Arias and Robb Vogel have been awesome to me. Same for student journalists at UW-Madison, Devin Lowe and Dan Corcoran.
I couldn't have done my job without the help of various SID's and media relations people. Special thanks to AJ Harrison, Ross LaDue, Brian Deutsch, Zach Friedli, Adam Augustine and Jayson Hajdu.
Nate Ewell deserves his own shout-out for all the work he's done promoting the sport for College Hockey Inc.
Scouts like Andrew Weiss, Sean LaFortune, Dusten Braaksma, Sean White, Matt Grainda, Dan Shrader, Max Giese, Dan Sallows and George Ross are all doing big things in this sport and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.
I'd also like to say thanks to people in the sport like Scott Herbst, Zack Fisch, Kevin Kurtt, Loren Nelson, Michael Trzinski, Brian and Zach Halverson and Michael Caples.
College hockey fans make this sport what it is. A few that come to mind include Craig Cotner, Donna Carpenter, Mikey, Biddy, Drunk Hockey Guy, Tim Braun, Damien Goddard, Mitch and Erik Martinson, Stephanie Rannells, Melody Hasse, Abby, Alex Micheletti, Weldi, Geoff Discher, Adam Piet, Eric Burton, Eric Vegoe, Scott Hamilton, Ryan Cardinal, Matt Christians, and Lucas Pillar.
Impossible for me to list them all, but a special thanks to all the agents, coaches, scouts and other various people in the hockey world that have given me tips, insights and scoops throughout the years. Part of the reason why I've been able to gain respect in the industry has been through the help of others providing valuable insights that I can pass along. I'm forever indebted to all of you.
I have to thank Lincoln Stars GM Jon Hull, who hired me as a scout in Muskegon last year and gave me an opportunity to prove myself in the best junior league in the country. I'd also like to thank Shane Fukushima and PK O'Handley in Waterloo for giving me an opportunity to work for the best organization in the league this season. AJ Degenhardt and Lincoln Nguyen have also been incredible resources from the Coulee Region Chill.
I also wanted to take a moment to thank all the fans and readers of this website. I can remember when I first started out and I'd be excited if we had 75 page views in a day. Now we get that in less than a minute when we publish a new story. It's incredible to see the way things have grown. We have loyal readers that share our site and provide feedback. I can't ask for much more.
And last, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my family and friends for their incredible support over the past decade. They've made countless sacrifices in an effort to aid my passion for covering the Badgers. Numerous events have had to be rescheduled around the Wisconsin hockey schedule, and many others have been altered due to breaking news. I remember breaking the news that Christian Dvorak was giving up his commitment to Wisconsin to sign with the London Knights while we were at the Canterbury Park horse track for Josh Iverson's bachelor party. So, thanks to you all for being patient with me. There's no way I could have chased this dream for as long as I have without your incredible support.
While I'll no longer be writing on this site, I plan to remain active on twitter. You can follow me @AndyJohnsonB5Q, although I'm sure I'll edit that handle in the next few weeks. If you'd like to ask a question, but don't have twitter, I'll keep my e-mail account active. You can reach me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again to everyone that has played a role in this. And remember, it's not goodbye, it's see you later.