Recapping the last 72 hours
It’s been quite the past few days, to say the least.
I took the weekend to speak with my colleagues, family, friends, my partner, and so many others about the news we received on Friday. In case you’ve been living under a shell, here’s the link to the news release letter I published on Friday. To save you a click though, I’ll keep it short: SBNation hockey sites are shutting down. After taking the weekend to digest the news and talk it out with others around me, I’ve got more updates and clarifications on what this means for the future of Mile High Hockey. I am a big believer in transparency, so I will tell all I can tell.
But, before I go any further, I do want to say the following: Thank you. Thank you for all your support – those of you who have been around since the beginning of MHH, those that are newer to the scene, and everyone in between. It’s been unwavering, especially now as we trench through the mud to what’s next.
What we know
We officially know the six sites remaining financially supported by SBNation and Vox Media: Mile High Hockey (Colorado Avalanche), Canes Country (Carolina Hurricanes), PensBurgh (Pittsburgh Penguins), Stanley Cup of Chowder (Boston Bruins), Lighthouse Hockey (New York Islanders), and All About The Jersey (New Jersey Devils).
Everyone else: going dark by the end of February. By going dark, I mean the following: the sites will remain up online and accessible for the world to see. Contributors may choose to keep writing for the site to get content out there, but they would be doing it without the financial backing of SBNation.
With the six remaining sites, to be honest we don’t know exactly why they were chosen. They are all very random. To be quite honest, I would’ve put about five or six other sites covering bigger teams, bigger markets, and catering to a wider audience to stay alive instead of MHH. How we’re still here after these cuts are beyond me. In my mind, I’ve suffered a lot of survivor’s guilt. In my mind, it should be all or nothing. In my mind, it shouldn’t be us.
But here we are. We survived. For now. But only just. And honestly, probably not too much longer after this if I had to guess.
Reflecting back as I said in my letter on Friday, if this occurred a year ago MHH would be shutting down with the other sites. But, a change in leadership along with an incredible run where the Avs won the Stanley Cup has what has kept this site alive. Who knew that a cup win would be so influential in more ways than one at the time?
How it all works and what the hope was
Unfortunately, the model of how to make money in this industry in particular is very limited. Those above me only look at clicks, views, traffic, and ad revenue. This is how MHH gets a budget to pay me and my staff – which is far from anything liveable at all and very little for how much work we do for the community. This is also likely why the remaining six sites are staying: because there is an uptick in clicks, views, traffic, and ad revenue for Vox to profit on.
Because all they care about are clicks, we’ve been told time and time again to meet a certain quota to keep our monthly budget the same and keep paying our staff the same amount as they’d signed in their contracts. This includes trying to have us write clickbait articles, fillers to simply keep traffic up, and even sometimes things not related to the Avs. However, we’ve been doing our best to do the opposite.
In an already competitive market covering the Avalanche, I was looking to make things as professional as they could be. I had so many things in the work long-term to keep building this website growing and crawling out from the dead it was in back in December 2021. This included looking, seeming, and sounding more professional – in the hopes that one day even on an extremely limited budget, Mile High Hockey would be in the press box at Ball Arena and on the road – to bring this amazing Avs community even bigger, better, and exclusive coverage only here on this website.
Alas, with the fate of other sites and the sink shipping around us, it’s only a matter of time and inevitable until we meet that same demise. MHH’s plans are unknown at the moment once we inevitably shutter – as are most all of the SBNation sites at the moment. While talks of a shutdown had been discussed before, we didn’t expect it to be this soon and this much going away so quickly.
Our own Jackie Kay has talked about continuing on this site unpaid. There have been discussions of moving to somewhere like Substack to continue the journey as an entire SBNation NHL staff. We could maybe partner up with other, smaller content creators and form one entity moving forward. It may be something else completely different we don’t know right now.
One thing I can almost certainly say will happen once this era passes: the MHH Lab Podcast will continue as an independent podcast and try to reach a more local audience including sponsorships and continue to bring coverage that way after MHH’s time as an SBNation site passes.
But for now: we just don’t exactly know still.
How to help
So back to the title of this article: how can you, this incredible community, help keep us alive just a little bit longer?
While I hate to have to ask for it: stick it out with us. Keep reading our articles. Comment on our articles. Share them with your family and friends. Spread awareness on social media. Give us a follow on Twitter if you don’t already. Do the same for every SBNation site – those that will shutter by the end of February and those other five who will remain after – as it will help them and their numbers too. Interaction is key to the entire puzzle. It’s what those above me who have actual careers in this care about: the numbers and the money they make from it.
Don’t see it as “we’re supporting the ‘bad guys’ by supporting MHH.” We will still do what we can to be here for as long as possible for this community. It will keep us here for a little longer. I’m doing this for everybody now – those that are still here and those communities that are gone. It’s unfair to everyone else especially. They deserve a place to go. I want this to be the place they want to go.
For example, in case you didn’t notice, this site will be the only one moving forward with a team in the Western Conference. I might incorporate something like a “Western Weekly Roundup” for those in the West to get their hockey coverage from SBNation.
Nonetheless, as the Mandolorians say (I’m just now getting into it, thank you to my Star Wars-obsessed partner for that), this is the way.
Thanks again to everybody for being with us on this journey. It means so much to me and the entire staff, truly. We’ll keep going and doing this for you: this mesmerizing community.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.