When I write pieces for Blueshirt Banter, I like to think most of them follow the same general structure: I focus on a problem I think the Rangers are currently facing, throw out some stats and numbers-backed opinions to demonstrate why there’s a problem, and offer ways I think the team can handle that problem moving forward. I try to make my pieces as objective as possible and keep my personal feelings out of things, and I try to highlight long term results and plans over short term hot takes and knee-jerk reactions.
All of that is to say that my articles tend to have a particular style to them, and that style works well for some people, and not so well for others. This article won’t be that style, or anything close to that. No stat-driven breakdowns, no questioning the cavalcade of highly questionable decisions the Rangers have made as of late, and no potshots about the shoddy job the coaching staff has been doing for the last season and a half. Well, aside from that one I suppose.
I remember stumbling on this wonderful site over the summer of 2014. The first article I read was an analysis of the Lee Stempniak signing and how he would function as a Benoit Pouliot replacement in the wake the Rangers’ playoff run that spring. Stempniak’s time on Broadway didn’t work out the way everyone would have hoped, but the site caught my eye from that point on. There were similar articles written about the acquisitions of Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, and Rangers’ legend Matthew Lombardi, but the Stempniak one just so happened to be the first one I read.
I only read the articles for a period of time, but when the players returned for training camp in 2014, I began to read all aspects of the site on a daily basis, articles and comments alike. Anthony Duclair’s ascent from a 3rd round pick in 2013 to becoming the story of the 2014 pre-season, Rick Nash’s red hot start to the season, and Kevin Klein’s overtime winner against Pittsburgh after getting part of his ear hacked off by an errant stick set the stage for what was, from opening night until the final game, the most magical season in team history this side of 1994.
I could only lurk on the site for so long before getting the itch to join in on the banter, so five years ago today, I officially signed up and made an account. Even with the Rangers being the most successful New York sports team at that time, there weren’t exactly a ton of high schoolers like I was at the time that actually cared about the team, so BSB became my outlet.
And boy did I use it. The first year I was a member of the site, I led the non-Tony division in comments under my original handle. I was on the site every day, multiple times a day, scrolling through the comments and talking with most of the same people that are still active on here five years later. As silly as it might sound, the Banter, specifically the writers and commenters I interacted with on a daily basis, become an important part of my life.
That became even more true towards the beginning of the 2016-17 season. As I began community college as a prospective journalism student, I figured it’d behoove me to find an outlet to express myself in a more professional manner. So after a couple of conversations happened, I found myself on the masthead of my favorite website.
Now, after five years on the site and more than three of those as a writer, a lot of things have changed. I’ve gone from a shy sixteen year old kid, waking up and dreading high school every day to a 21 year old young man with my whole life ahead of me. I’ve lived my whole life in what basically amounts to a three square mile radius, so I haven’t seen much. That’s all about to change, as I’ll be leaving for college three hours away next Thursday for what I’m hoping will be two of the best years of my life.
Through all of my ups and downs over the last five years, this site has been one of my daily stops. Whether it was just collecting the local links on a daily basis throughout the seasons and posting them for everyone, joining our active readers in the comments, or the infrequent pieces I’ve written over the years, Blueshirt Banter has been a comfort zone for me whenever I needed one.
I’m thankful for Joe, Mike, and the rest of the staff welcoming me onto their team and helping make take the first step in what I hope turns out to be a long career in sports journalism. I’m thankful for the commentors here that give me all the reason in the world to read more than the articles every day. For all the frustration the Rangers cause us fans, I’m glad to have the ability to talk about them in-depth any time I want with the wide arrange of readers that follow our site.
I’ll still be doing my usual work on the site after I leave for school next week, and I’ll still be as active as ever in the comments. Five years may not be a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it makes a world of difference in the NHL. Only four of the 34 players who suited up for the Blueshirts in 2014-15 are still with the organization today. Much like the Rangers have undergone major changes since then, I’ve undergone some changes of my own.
Whether you know it or not, every member of this site has played a part in those changes. And I’m thankful for the changes that have already happened, and the ones that are yet to come. Just like it was there for the last five years, Blueshirt Banter will be there for the next five and beyond.