With the 2019-20 NHL season rapidly approaching, it seems that now would be an appropriate time to take stock of the state of CanucksArmy, the changes that have come over the past year, and what you can expect going forward.
Effective immediately, I will be taking over the Managing Editor position that has been vacant since Ryan Biech’s departure in mid-July.
From a personal standpoint, it’s an honour to be taking on that title for a myriad of reasons. To date, my favourite one-off hockey column was published right here on this very site just a little over five years ago. We think the Vancouver Canucks may have a scouting problem(!!!!) was written by Rhys Jessop, one of the many people to hold the Managing Editor position at CanucksArmy to whom I’ve been both a friend and an admirer at different stages of my development as a writer. It’s a clever analytic exercise with the stated purpose of evaluating how the Canucks’ scouting department fared against a ridiculously simple analytical model that drafted only the highest-scoring first-time-eligible forward from the CHL. It launched an interest in statistical analysis of the NHL draft, as well as a model that would eventually get Rhys, Cam Lawrence, and Josh Weissbock hired by the Florida Panthers.
I couldn’t be happier to be following in his footsteps, as well as those of the three people who have held the position since I was brought in as a contributor in the summer of 2016- Jeff Veillette, J.D. Burke, and Ryan Biech, who were not only excellent at the job but three of the the best people I’ve had the opportunity to connect with over the course of my time at the site.
On a professional level, it feels a bit weird to be writing this. I never had aspirations of covering hockey full-time. My entire career- to the extent that you can call it that- started off on a lark a few years ago when I had the idea of comparing Jim Benning’s draft record as head of amateur scouting for the Buffalo Sabres to other teams over the same time period. This isn’t a point I ever saw myself at, so I guess you could say I’m just as curious as some of my detractors are likely to be about how this whole thing is going to go.
To say that the 2018-19 season was a transitional period for the site would be an understatement. Our longtime managing editor J.D. Burke left last off-season to pursue other media opportunities; while his successor, Ryan Biech, was scooped up by the home team this summer to do video analysis for their analytics department. Somewhere between those two subtractions, Jeremy Davis began to focus more on work and family life while placing most of his creative energy into running the inimitable NextGenHockey.ca, and Harman Dayal became a full-time writer for The Athletic’s Vancouver branch. Losing two managing editors in the span of a little over 13 months is obviously a difficult storm to weather, and was only compounded by losing a popular contributor while another took a major step back from creating content for the site.
As a result, we’ve added a number of fresh faces over the past year, starting with Stephan Roget, who had built quite a following on Reddit under the handle hockeytalkie. Stephan has really stepped up in the wake of all the changes that have occurred over the past 12 months to become someone I have leaned on to behind the scenes to keep the content train rolling while I focused more on editing and helping along our new team members.
Speaking of those team members – I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do over the coming season. Brady Trettenero has been a life-saver with regards to keeping the site up-to-date with breaking news, Michael Wagar and Thomas Williams have done a great job blending the kind of stats-driven analysis that readers of CanucksArmy have come to expect with their own observations, and Faber’s pieces are brimming with the energy and enthusiasm of a long-suffering superfan.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to formally welcome newest addition Brett Lee to the site. Brett made his debut yesterday breaking down some video on the Canucks defenders and I’m very excited to see him develop as a contributor over the course of the season. More additions will be announced shortly to help round out the staff, but we are always looking for anyone who can help us with our coverage, and I ask that anyone who is interested in contributing please reach out to us via the official twitter account, or to my personal account.
On a personal note, the passing of Jason Botchford has touched many of us at CanucksArmy, which is why I’m encouraging those of you that are thinking about giving this a try not only to reach out to the site about contributing, but also to reach out to me, personally, for help or advice. My platform within the Canucks’ online community is limited, but I’d like to use it as a force for good to whatever extent I can. Botch was a big supporter of myself and many others who wrote at CA, so I’m eager to pay it forward.
That just about wraps things up, so I’d just like to close things out by thanking all of our contributors and most importantly our readers for helping to make CanucksArmy one of the most vibrant hockey communities online. I’m looking forward to seeing what changes the new season brings, both on and off the ice.