It's been nearly five years since this little space on the Internet transformed into Blueshirt Banter. At the time, SB Nation was a lot smaller (and less known) than it was right now. And interestingly enough, the New York Rangers were one of the last NHL teams to get their own hockey blog. They may have actually been the last team, but I'm not sure I can confirm that. Just know I think we were last.
So in April 2008 Blueshirt Banter became a thing. I was a young college lad working on my own Rangers' blog (since deleted, sadly, not sure how that happened) and Jim was a little overwhelmed with starting up the site and asked me to help. Of course I said yes. It was a chance for me to hone my writing skills (which I needed) and the chance to move from a little site that got barley 100 visits a week to a site that was getting around 150 a day. Times were different back then for sure.
Being with the Banter from the beginning makes this place even more special for me. I've gotten to see five years' worth of transitions from the writing style, to the site itself, to the writers and even to the community. Moshe I believe is the oldest member of the site (or at least the oldest that keeps coming around) which I think is awesome. Other people may have changed their handles (17ToTheRafters is a good example of someone who may have done that) or forgot their old ones when they returned. Either way, the community is stronger, and more stable, than ever, which has always been a goal of mine.
Since the days when Jim and I would watch the Sitemeter by the hour (seriously) to the day when Jim sent us the following e-mail:
You don't need me to tell you the site has since grown by leaps and bounds. And now this space sees hundreds of thousands of page views a month (sometimes even per week) which is always good to see. SB Nation is big now, and it's getting bigger, and my goal has always been to make sure people love the Rangers' coverage on SB Nation. I feel like we've done a good job, but you all tell me I have a huge ego so maybe that's just me.
Anyway, this might be coming off as a "Joe is retiring" post. No such luck, peasants! You're stuck with me!
This is really a giant THANK YOU to all the people who continue to make this place what it is.
First of all, the staff. I'm not really sure what I would do without you guys. From the writing to the moderating and even the e-mail conversations with new ideas, you guys make this place go. I know 99% of the time it's a thankless job and sometimes you want to try and buy a literal ban hammer to smash into your computer, but know that I am in the 1% that thanks you guys. If I don't say it enough, well, thanks. You guys are awesome. Now get back to work, break time is over.
And, of course, all of you guys who come to this place every day, comment, debate, banter, write fanposts and fanshots and everything else. I know there's a plethora of lurkers and I encourage you to come join the insanity. After all, it's probably crazier to watch a bunch of crazy people fight and not join in, right? Maybe? Whatever.
Anyway, guys and gals I appreciate it more than you'll know. You guys helped keep this place alive during the lockout, and the flood of you who stayed away (I can't blame you) and returned when hockey returned meant a lot. It makes me feel good when people treat this place as their "go to" when it comes to Rangers stuff, and I know the staff feels the same way.
I know a lot of the time we're all bickering with each other, but that's what a happy family does. 99% of the time the debate and the arguments here are done in a respectful manner with many people involved. I try as hard as I can to make the comments section be as great as possible. Mike and Uncle Caerid do a brilliant job at keeping our comments section as good as any site on the Internet. In some places the comments are a cesspool and it keeps people away from the site altogether. I never want that to happen here, and the entire staff helps at making sure that doesn't happen.
I also, believe it or not, appreciate when you guys tell us about things you don't like. We (and by "we" I mainly mean Mike) usually compile those up and try and see what type of fixes we can make. This site is about you guys being happy after all.
So, I don't want to get too sappy. I just want to let you guys know that 2013 was a fantastic year for the site. Blueshirt banter saw just shy of a million unique visitors, nearly 2-million visits and over 5-million page views in 2013. That's a success story I'm really proud of. And you're all a part of it too.
So to all of you who are reading this and as a result are a part of this, thanks for everything. Seriously, you're all amazing.
Here's to a much better 2014.
All of us at Blueshirt Banter