2018 was an amazing year for this Rangers blog

First off, I want to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year. Secondly, I want to thank every person (and there were a lot) who read at least one article on this blog.

In the Beginning

This ride started back in 2012 when I was using a GoDaddy blog template and just trying to figure it all as FullTilt Rangers. I remember my writing was sub-par (probably still is) and the site looked cheesy. Still, I wanted to get my thoughts out there and connect with my fellow Rangers fans.

FullTilt Rangers 2012

Then in 2014, at the behest of some writers and with the help of one of the editors Shawn, we moved off GoDaddy templates and on to WordPress. It was the best move I ever made for the site. It even led me to create an NHL site called FullTilt Hockey Network. It was a fun but difficult time as I found myself writing anywhere from 3 – 10 posts a day and managing a group of about 14 contributors to get content up for both sites.

FullTilt Hockey Network

The site was a success and drawing in 1000s of views daily. Some of our articles were even being picked up and linked backed to by sites like SportsNet, NBC, and more. It was cool but as the writers couldn’t donate more of their time it fell on me to produce. Quickly, I and the site burned out after about a year but I kept FullTilt Rangers going.

It was during that time running FullTilt Hockey Network that I met a young passionate hockey writer named Russell Hartman. Today he is an editor for this site, and the lead host of our podcast. He’s been with me the longest and I now call him a friend.

Time for Change

Flash forward to 2017 and most of the people that were contributing had gone and I was doing this by myself mostly. The twitter personality I created of being combative, snarky, and anti-corsi (I still am to a degree) was causing me more grief than I could have ever imagined. So basically I announced my retirement in Feb 2017 and was going to shut down the blog in April.

Then it happened. An outpouring of affection and people wanting to reach out to help. That’s when Zak Chiger came along and really gave me the lift I needed. All of a sudden the site went from just a few people to now over a dozen contributors from all places and backgrounds. The common thread for us all, we love the New York Rangers.

Forever Blueshirts

I tried to just manage the site but the name FullTilt Rangers on social media, particularly twitter had become too toxic. To me it was impacting the writers so the next best decision for this blog was made, I rebranded it Forever Blueshirts. In order to give them a fresh start I retired again in Nov 2017 – yes I am the Brett Favre of Rangers bloggers.

Eventually, and at the behest of readers and writers alike, I came back. And for the foreseeable future I and this site intend on being here for a longtime. Especially after this past year’s performance.

2018 & BEYOND

Forever Blueshirts has exceeded all expectations as our yearly page views have grown from an average of just over 550,000 to almost 1.9 million. 2018 has seen records not only for the year, but also most hits in a day, and record breaking month after record breaking month.

FullTilt Rangers and Forever Blueshirts WP stats

So what’s the secret? During my “retirements” I changed my mission statement. Instead of trying to beat out all other Rangers blogs and make some money (funny – bloggers get it), I realized what this site is for and what I really wanted to do – connect with fans and help young writers.

While I still write plenty, I like to mull ideas over with the pool of contributors. We talk during games, I edit some of the more complex pieces and I give them the platform to grow and launch their careers (WP, hosting and Blogtalk are not cheap). It’s really nice to know that some have used the site or the podcast on their résumés and landed pretty cool jobs because of it.

2018 was a great year, and I’m not sure what 2019 will bring. My mission will remain the same to help these young writers who donate their talent and time to write for the blog. But I want to think bigger too! I’ve mulled the possibility of writing a children’s book centered around hockey with the help of my wife and kids. I may sell it on here and donate much of the profits to St. Mary’s Hospital. Bottom line, this site can do more and I’m hoping it does in the coming new year.

So thank you to all the writers past and present for being a part of this journey. Most of all, thank you to the readers and members of our Forever Blueshirts community. Without you, none of this is possible.

And let’s not forget: HAPPY NEW YEAR AND LET’S GO RANGERS!