It would be my personal hope that this not create a whole lot of fanfare, but knowing this site's readership and the class of it's commentariat, I doubt that I can get away so lucky.
As of now, I am leaving Eyes On The Prize behind in order to apply my efforts to other projects in the works for some time. I've often referred to myself at this site in self deprecating tones as a juggler, attempting to keep way too many balls from hitting the ground. Plainly stated, one can only do so much at once, and in trying to take too much on, something invariably suffers.
To cut the mustard, straight up, it's my personal opinion that I cannot continue to do this site justice if my heart is divided and not wholly concentrated on one thing. This site has been my passion, but it has for some time been wrestling with another passion. Invariably, in such a tug of war, there cannot help but be one side that lacks.
Personally, it has been quite a ride for me at this site. I began the original EOTP back on July 21, 2006, a few months before the mothership of all Montreal Canadiens blog sites - Habs Inside Out - came online and upped the ante for all Habs blogs. I mention HIO, because without their constant appreciation of the pages published here via innumerable links at their magnetic core of all things Habs, well, I'd be signing off to a readership about the size of former Leafs players with Stanley Cup rings. Dave Stubbs and Mike Boone of HIO have been great allies of this site and my work. Over the years, they have respectively described me a as an HIO friend and indefatigable in my work. There is a very good chance that you have read this site because of their links. Where I'd be without their appreciation, I cannot even fathom.
When I began this site years ago, I was not known as Robert L, but as Reality Check, or RC for short. The pseudonym came about because I had registered with it at Google for another site, for some reason, long ago. I hated that name. The more I read about Eklund, the more I despised my false moniker. I didn't want to be anonymous. I wanted connection, from a real person to real people, It wasn't so much about credibility as it was about transparency and honesty. It was the right move.
My e-mail still contains the words "realitycheck-time", and I've often thought of the irony of that. In the past year, I've given myself as many reality checks as some players hand out body checks in a season.
I respect the readers of this EOTP space greatly. The passionate Habs' fans and fans of the game of hockey who have shared their feelings about this site in its lifetime have meant the world to me. Over time batches of nice people have said bundles of kind thoughts. It was you, the reader, who provided the most motivational and inspiring sentiments to keep me going.
A reality check is a good thing. The latest one done on myself spares no punches. But here's the honest KO:
I could listen only to the kind words, you, my readers, send to this site. But there is another barometer, an equally honest gauge, in what is not being said.
Sometimes that silence is loud and clear.
It comes down to knowing what I am and what I do well, and what I'm not, and what I'm unwilling to fake. My biggest passion, of all my passions, involves a grasp on Montreal Canadiens history, much moreso than the present happenings of the team. We won't kid each other, we both know this is true.
(Note that in the latter stages of summer, I have barely touched upon the Canadiens upcoming season myself. I thought that would be disingenuous of me, knowing this day would come.)
A Sports Blog Nation site such as this one should be more about the moment, and not entirely the moments that have passed. I realize that I was not doing a good job with the now - covering the team in the present tense.
Life and events have conspired to distract me, to a point where I realize that I am coming up short. In that regard, if I were in charge of me, I'd fire myself.
EOTP has great potential. I've seen it in some of my work, and moreso in the work of contributors I have brought on. Certain articles posted have gone absolutely viral in terms of media interest, and if I were able to split myself in three, I could dedicate myself more to present day coverage. As it stands, I am not the one person that can help EOTP to its potential as I see it.
An example of why this is, comes from last season's playoff run. Somewhere along the way, Chris Boyle and I tripped upon the idea that it would be cool to break down how every goal scored by the Habs and against them occurred. There were graphics, videos and analysis in the format, and interest in these were formidable. However, at my end, such articles involved viewing every goal from all angles perhaps 25 times each to make sure I didn't miss a detail. I wanted it to be better than some off-the-cuff network TV breakdown, done with a telestrator, moments after a goal. I wanted it to approach something similar to what coaches would bring to players to following day before a practice.
The trouble was, putting together such articles on my own required an eight hour shift without interruption, to get it right. There was the notion that this was something that I ought to do for the entire regular season, but when I looked at what that would encompass time-wise I shuddered to think of how much that would require of me over 82 games. When weighed up against site traffic spikes, the money we bloggers are paid, and the sanity I would sacrifice, such a proposition became ridiculous.
Did I mention I give myself reality checks....
EOTP's site numbers and traffic counts during the playoffs made for nice statistical increment hikes to be proud of, but when I read them I like to remind myself that no one ever wishes to be thought of as just a number. I don't want to lose track of the human face of things that has always remained more important to me.
I've met many of you readers personally, some in town here in Cornwall, others in Montreal and Ottawa, and a few in Kingston, a time or two. If we have met, you were probably disappointed that I wasn't some super gregarious, outgoing sort, able to talk about what I do at length.
It's never been easy for me to accept any type of accolade. I'm a shy person in more ways than I could ever admit. You might have gotten a comment or a personal e-mail reply, where the best I can say is a simple "Thanks for your kind words". I might even be less voluble in person.
Such reactions are admittedly innaccurate responses on my part, because mere words could never express how I felt in receiving your kindness and thoughts. Lots of people spent a great deal of time typing out e-mails to me because something I wrote was important to them. That not only humbles me, but strikes a nerve and touches home, big time. I receive e-mails almost daily, upon every article posted. Those e-mails consistently outnumber reader comments, As a matter of tact, I reply to 99% of them. I hope that my replies to you came across as sincere ones.
When I suggested juggling earlier, I never mentioned family responsibilities. I am married and have two teenage daughters, and the needs that come with being a father and husband never end - not that I'd want them to. Often I have told my family that I am too busy with site duties and self imposed deadlines to be at their need. At this stage in their lives, this is another priority that needs a reality check.
Since 2006 working this site has been a blast and then some. I have had nothing but one privilege after another come my way. There have been countless astute and thankful readers and commenters, sharing their brains, good vibes and positive remarks. I've made more friends made than I could ever have imagined while doing this. There have been thrills such as getting to translate articles for Canadiens.com online and in centennial publications, meeting some former Habs alumni or their family in person, getting press credentials into the 2009 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre and of course, being involved in a few Habs Inside Out fan summits.
I did not expect any this when I started out, and I readily admit I was never well prepared to deal with what comes with having an online Montreal Canadiens site that developed a certain reputation.
One accident along the way was that I gained some sort of credibility among readers, which delighted me, but also scared me to death. With credibility, comes responsibility. I guess it's because maybe I did somethings right that struck a chord or because I was honest as I could, or that I was personal and took things in that manner.
What I always tried best to do as a blogger, when covering current events or games, was to place the speculative context in speculative terms, while representing all sides of a question for a balanced point of view. I sought to take ownership of my own personal insights and opinions from lifelong hockey experiences, and turn it back over to you for your consideration, without leaps into inflammatory posts. With that, I tried to not look at things as a fan does, but from a player's standpoint at times, from a coach's view in others, and occassionally from an organizational perspective. This was my manner of proceding, attempting to be insightful and not redundant with a multitude of other opinions out there. Sometimes it even worked!
When I informed SB Nation of my intentions to leave I was pleased to learn that the site would in fact continue on under the Eyes On The Prize name and that the site archives would be remaining for all to enjoy. I would like to thank them for their support over my time here. It's been fun, rewarding and a great learning experience.
Since joining Sports Blog Nation, EOTP contributors have included Francis Bouchard, Chris Boyle, Myles Dolphin, Bruce Peter, Andrew Schildroth, and Kevin van Steendelaar. I would like to thank each of them for their excellent work. Francis, Chris and Bruce will be continuing their work here and Kevin has accepted (after a year of badgering) to take the reigns of EOTP and I am very proud to leave the site in his command.
All that said, there is still a little voice inside my head tells me that it is probably inevitable that I return to online hockey blogging at some point in time, and I readily admit that if all the circumstances are favourable, I'd strongly consider it. But for now, in the immediate forecast, there are things I'd like to tackle first. As it is, I am retiring from daily blogging on the Canadiens for now, but I am keeping open the possibility that I could contribute the odd article for the site when circumstances arrive in which I cannot help myself.
So that's about it my friends. Thanks for supporting the EOTP site since 2006 and thanks, through your multitude of notes and sends, for giving me the confidence to pursue my future endeavors.
Until the next time we meet, CHeers folks!