Well, we’ve reached the point that everyone knew would eventually come, the end of the Worcester Sharks. Technically the WorSharks still exist until June 30th and there is at least the slim possibility some worthy news will pop up that I’ll need to make a blog post about, but for all intents and purposes this is my last posting here on Sharkspage. Over the years it’s been my pleasure writing the post game stories and other assorted updates, and as there is some people that need to be acknowledged for their help in bringing you WorSharks news and others that need to be recognized for what they did here in Worcester, this post will hopefully take care of both of those things.
The first person I need to thank is of course Jon Swenson, owner here of Sharkspage, who gave me permanent home to blog about the WorSharks about eight years ago. One of the questions I get asked the most is what happened to Jon, and I honestly don’t know. One day we were talking about adding some different types of content to the site and the next day he literally disappeared from the blog. I presume he’s still out there somewhere because when there’s an issue I email a bunch of his addresses and eventually the issue gets fixed, but even then I don’t hear a word from him. I’ve kept the light on here as long as I could, hopefully at some point he’ll make his return. But in any case, thanks to him.
The next person I need to thank, who actually stands in front of the long line of people that make this all possible, is my wife Trish. It’s fitting that this posting goes up on our 19th wedding anniversary because nearly every single day of our relationship has involved hockey in some way. Whether it was me covering the Worcester IceCats for icecats.org and the variety of other websites I wrote for, working with “Save our hockey” when the IceCats left, covering the WorSharks, or working with the booster club here in Worcester over the years, there has always been something hockey related going on somewhere. With the WorSharks leaving and my taking a backseat to others in the search for a new hockey team in Worcester I’ll suddenly have a lot more free time on my hands. She wants to fill it with baseball. I’m not complaining.
Big thanks go out to broadcaster and WorSharks PR man Eric Lindquist. I know I’ve caused some headaches for him over the years, but that was never my intent. I’ve just always figured that if I was going to do this whole blogging thing I was going to do it right and report the things that needed reporting. That didn’t always make Eric’s day easy. With the news now out that he’s moving to San Jose to work for the Barracuda I can now officially wish him good luck out there. Don’t ever give up on your dream of broadcasting NHL games Eric, and I’m looking forward to hearing you do that in the future.
I’ve got to give a hat tip to my minion Tyler Lowell. It started out as a joke me calling him “minion”, but the joke stuck and with his schedule allowing him to see a lot more road games his help on twitter made my life a lot easier. There is probably no person who I owe a beer to more than Tyler, and as soon as he’s old enough to legally drink it I’ll be glad to buy him one. Tyler is, as we say here in Worcester, “wicked smaht”, and is majoring in Sport Management at a local college. Don’t count out hearing his name in the future somewhere in the sports world.
Nearly all the photos used in my postings are courtesy of Team Shred, and I can’t thank those folks enough for allowing me to use them. They take some fantastic pictures. It’s funny that while I give them credit in the caption for each photo it’s now just dawning on me I should have linked folks to their website as I was doing that. Oh well, I promise to do that better if it ever comes up again in the future.
Special thanks goes out to Worcester Telegram and Gazette reporter Bill Ballou, who has covered Worcester AHL hockey since day one. I’ve always aimed to be as good at this as he is, but considering he does better work while sleeping than I do wide awake there was no chance I’d reach my goal. I’ve stolen a bit of my writing style from Ballou and a little from Connecticut Post reporter Michael Fornabaio, who covers the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. I figure if you’re going copy a style you should pick from the best. So I did, although I come up far short when compared to those two.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention WorSharks Business & Community Development guy Mike Myers. It would take tens of thousands of words to mention how important he’s been for the community here in Worcester, and he seldom gets the credit he deserves. His and the organization’s work in the Worcester school system will be sorely missed. What I will miss most is our occasional get-togethers during games at my perch in front of the press box. His insights into the game of hockey, and a ton of other tangentially related subjects, were far more interesting than some of those mid-week games could ever have been. I’ve said it in many places, if I ever win one of the big lottery games and have enough money to buy a team my first call is to Myers. And any team coming into the DCU Center should make him their first call too.
Another guy that doesn’t get enough credit is Worcester Sharks Booster Club president Rich Lundin. When it all comes down to it the reason we were able to get the Sharks to move here after the IceCats left is Rich. His tenacious efforts lit a fire under city leaders, and his non-stop pursuit of getting another team here ultimately led to the last nine years of WorSharks hockey. Lots of “suits” take credit for that, but I was there and know the real story. It was Rich. He then focused his efforts on running the booster club, and with that came over $70,000 in donations to local charities. As he did before, Rich is leading the efforts to bring another team to Worcester. Once again he’s lighting a fire under the establishment to get moving on it. This time it’s going to be tougher, but I’m confident he’ll still make a difference. I’m also confident he’ll get little credit again. Some things never change.
Over the years I’ve always mentioned my “man on the bus” or “man in the room” when talking about things going on behind the scenes here in Worcester, and I do want to thank the folks that passed along those little tidbits of information. I won’t be naming them because I’m sure they would prefer to remain anonymous, but I couldn’t have done it without you guys. A blogger is only as good as his sources, and for the most part the ones I had were pretty solid. They made me look good and believe me, that’s no easy task. Those that know me know there’s still two stories I want to know more about, and someday I’ll find out what really happened. Inquiring minds want to know.
Two other people I just want to briefly mention are Michael Lehr and Michael Mudd. Lehr is the one that took a chance on us here in Worcester, and he can’t be thanked enough for that. After Lehr was promoted away from the WorSharks Mudd took over and despite a losing team on the ice started to turn the business side around. Long time readers will remember after Mudd was fired I posted that you should bet that he would lead another NHL organization to a Stanley Cup before San Jose ever one won. I took a lot of heat for that remark. Well, Mudd is now the athletic director at Worcester State University, so he won’t be leading any NHL team to the Stanley Cup in the near future. Seeing as I still stand by original comment that doesn’t bode well for Sharks fans.
As for my future plans, well, in the past few days my plans have pretty much disintegrated. I had a really good gig all lined up on a reasonable well known sports blog where I would be writing a weekly column about whatever the major sports story of the previous few days was, but before my first story was published (was supposed to be last Friday) I’ve already had an issue with the editors and told them I wasn’t going to bother with them anymore. I guess I’m just set I’m my ways and like being my own boss. For those that care you can check me out on my “not as frequently updated as I hoped” sports blog at 210Sports.
My thanks to all that chose to spend a small part of their days reading the updates here on Sharkspage. It was my pleasure in bringing them to you, and I hope you enjoyed reading them. It really was a good run while the WorSharks were here. Not so much on the ice of course, where the team never once came close to its potential, but certainly off the ice and in the community. With San Jose making Worcester a stopping point on their minor league franchise’s cross country path there were tons of great friendships discovered, lots of folks helped by charities supported by the organization, and memories that will last a lifetime. The Worcester Sharks did things differently than the IceCats, just as whatever team eventually replaces the WorSharks will do things differently from the them, but in the end it’s all about the people you meet and the things that can be accomplished. And it’s the people and high standard of community involvement the WorSharks had that will be missed here in Worcester.
And that, as they say, is that…