Friday, September 28, 2018

Grab Bag: Gritty Hate Machine

In the Friday Grab Bag:
- How should you feel about Gritty? Take the mascot quiz and find out.
- The NHL web site gets a new section
- An obscure player who had one of the strangers -- and shortest -- careers ever
- The week's three comedy stars
- And more Guy Lafleur 70s smoothness, including a possible race car driver homicide

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Going off the board with some NHL award longshots

One​ of the ways​ you​ know​ you’ve​ made​ it​ as a hockey​ writer is when​ you get added​ to​ the email list​​ for gambling odds. One of the online books has a guy who sends out press releases every few weeks with new odds and prop bets, at which point every writer you follow on Twitter immediately starts posting identical screen caps for some reason. It’s a whole thing.

As someone who’s made a wager or two in my time, the odds are always worth a look. But even if you’re not into betting, the lists can provide some fascinating insights. After all, bookies don’t make their money by being dumb, and any list of odds will usually offer up a pretty good snapshot of where the conventional wisdom is at.

This week, we got the email with the player awards odds, which is always the one I look forward to. Sure, we can argue over who gets to be the favorite in each category. But to me, it’s always more fun to scan down the list and figure out which longshots have a chance – and which dark horse candidates got left off the list entirely.

If you’d tried that last year, you could have come up with a few surprises. Hart winner Taylor Hall wasn’t listed among the hopefuls, and neither were fellow finalists Nathan MacKinnon or Anze Kopitar. Pekka Rinne was a 15-to-1 longshot for the Vezina, and Mathew Barzal wasn’t on the original Calder list. Like so much of what happens in an NHL season, the player awards always seem obvious in hindsight, but when the season starts we’re often completely in the dark.

That makes it’s a fool’s game to try to predict who’ll win what. In other words, we’re solidly in my territory here. So let’s take a look at the six awards that we now have odds for, and see if we can’t pick out a few longshot winners of our own.

(The full list of odds can be found here. Note that everything in this post is based on what came out on Monday; the odds may shift and players may be added or subtracted in the days to come.)

Hart Trophy

There are 34 names on the initial list, which in theory doesn’t give us much to work with. But based on last year, there may be more candidates out there than we think. Let’s see what we can find.

The favorites: Connor McDavid is listed as the clear favorite at 10-to-3 (meaning you’d have to bet $3 for every $10 you wanted to win). Sidney Crosby is next at 13-to-2, followed by Alexander Ovechkin, John Tavares and Auston Matthews at 10-to-1. Having two players from the same team that high seems strange, but we can factor in at least a small boost for Toronto because they’re a popular team that more people will want to bet on.

I don’t think we need to overthink this one too much – if the Oilers make the playoffs, or even get close, McDavid is the obvious choice, even at reduced odds.

The longshots: Among the guys listed at longer odds than 10-to-1, the name that stands out is Jack Eichel at 33-to-1. That seems way too high for a guy with MVP-level skill on a team that could finally have the sort of breakout that voters look for in this category. But just about everyone already jumped all over that when the early odds came out in August, so we’ll keep scanning.

Steven Stamkos at 25-to-1 seems interesting, although he’d have to outperform Nikita Kucherov enough to keep from splitting the Tampa vote. I also like a pair of 50-to-1 longshots in Tyler Seguin and Artemi Panarin. And if we want to really go big, how about new Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov at 100-to-1, for when Florida shocks everyone by making a run at the Atlantic.

Of all those options, if I had to throw a couple of pretend dollars down on one, I think I’d go with Seguin. He’s got Hart-level talent on a team that missed the playoffs last year but should make a run this year. Let’s roll the dice.

Off the board: With such a long list of candidates, we don’t have a ton of obvious choices to work with. But we can look to last year’s unlikely finalists for some guidance here. Hall and MacKinnon were the top forwards on teams everyone wrote off as awful, while Kopitar is a two-way player who finally got some long-deserved Hart Trophy respect.

In that first category, we could look to younger guys like Brock Boeser, Clayton Keller or Dylan Larkin, although all seem like stretches whose time isn’t here quite yet. A guy like Mark Stone is intriguing, since he also fits the two-way bill and anything higher than 25th is going to feel like a miracle finish in Ottawa. But I’m not seeing a great pick from this group.

As for the second category, there’s my personal favorite pick: Patrice Bergeron, who doesn’t appear on the list despite being the most important player on one of the league’s better teams. He’ll need to stay healthy, but if he does and he can match last year’s scoring pace, he’ll top 80 points. That could be enough to get him his first top-five Hart finish since 2014, and maybe even win the thing.

Other possibilities include a few disrespected veterans in Jonathan Toews and Ryan O’Reilly, not to mention William Karlsson in Vegas, who actually finished 10th last year and still didn’t get a mention. Or you could go with literally any goalie or defenseman, since not one makes the oddsmakers’ list.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Monday, September 24, 2018

2018-19 season preview

For​ the last few​ years,​ I’ve​ done​ in-depth​ season​ previews for​ various sites, in​ which I would​ divide​ the NHL into​​ four divisions. But not the four divisions that the NHL itself used. Instead, I would use my own versions that seemed to capture the spirit of the thing a little better: The Bottom-Feeder Division, The Middle-of-the-Pack Division, The Contenders Division, and my personal favorite, the Your-Guess-Is-As-Good-As-Mine Division.

A full preview isn’t really necessary this year. If you’re a subscriber, you’ve already seen plenty of in-depth preview work from The Athletic’s various writers, including Dom Luszczyszyn’s epic team-by-team series. So I’m off the hook.

But I’m not sure I want to be. I think anyone who covers the NHL should have to make a few predictions, if only to keep us honest once the season starts and things inevitably go sideways. One of the most frustrating subplots of last year’s miracle Vegas Golden Knights season was the eventual emergence of voices who swore the whole thing was rigged and they knew it was coming all along. No they didn’t. None of us did. But if you don’t put your thoughts in writing before the season, you can convince yourself you’re a lot smarter than you really are.

When it comes to predicting the NHL, I’m not smart and never have been. But the least I can do is be honest about it. So for this year’s preview, we’ll strip away the key stats and storylines and players to watch and all the other pieces that others can do better. But we’ll keep the four divisions, if only so we can all look back and laugh when I’m proven wrong in eight months. Fine, two weeks.

Within each division, the teams aren’t listed in any particular order. Let’s start from the basement and work our way up.

The Bottom-Feeder Division

These teams are all sure-things to be terrible next year. You know, like the Avalanche, Devils and Golden Knights last year.

Ottawa Senators

Last season: 28-43-11, 67 points, missed playoffs.

Offseason report: They’d rather not talk about it.

Why they’re here: Because just about everyone thinks it’s a lock that they’ll be the worst team in the league. Even Avalanche fans, who know a thing or two about unexpected turnarounds, seem to already be debating who to take with next year’s top-four pick.

Is there any reason to think that everyone is wrong and the Senators might actually be passable? Not really, at least based on a roster that’s already underwhelming and figures to get even worse as the rebuild sees veterans shipped out for futures. If anything, it’s all starting to feel like a little too much of a sure-thing and we know how those typically end up in today’s NHL. If the Senators do pull off a miracle and make a run at the postseason, or at least to .500, remember that I was the only one who thought there was any chance of it happening. Just not enough of one to move them out of this section.

Montreal Canadiens

Last season: 29-40-13, 71 points, missed playoffs.

Offseason report: They finally acquired that #1 NHL center they’ve been chasing for years. No, just kidding. They did trade away Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk though, so there’s that.

Why they’re here: The Canadiens seem like such a mess that it’s easy enough to forget that they were the Atlantic champs as recently as 2017. But with a rebuild underway and Shea Weber missing at least the first two months, there doesn’t seem to be a path to the playoffs that doesn’t involve Carey Price morphing back into MVP mode.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Friday, September 21, 2018

Grab Bag: Disco Lafleurno

In the return of the Friday Grab Bag:
- The NHL refuses to use its own cap recapture rule. Good, because it's terrible.
- I have a solution for the NHL's Fortnite problem
- An obscure NHL bust you've seen a million times without knowing it
- The week's three comedy stars
- And a look back at a time when Montreal stars were the coolest guys in the world

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Thursday, September 20, 2018

When teams trade away top-five picks

The​ Ottawa Senators are coming​ off​ one​ of​ the​ worst​ stretches in​ recent pro sports​ memory, including an​ offseason​ that brought one​​ negative story after another. At this point, you’d like to think that they’ve hit rock bottom. But that might not be true, because there’s a nightmare scenario looming.

It goes something like this: The Senators have the kind of season everyone seems to think they will, finishing at or near the bottom of the league. That earns them one of the top picks in the Jack Hughes draft. But they’ve already traded that pick to Colorado in last year’s Matt Duchene deal, so they get to cap off their season by watching the Avalanche draft a potential franchise player instead.

It would be an undeniably awful way to end a miserable season, and it makes a rebuild a much tougher sell to an exhausted fan base. After all, how do you squeeze any optimism out of a losing season if you don’t even have your own first-round pick to look forward to?

If it’s any comfort, the situation the Senators could be facing isn’t unheard of in recent NHL history, although it is relatively rare. In the last 35 years, eight teams have traded away a future first-round pick, only to suffer through a season that placed that choice in the top five of the draft. (To be clear, we’re not counting teams that traded away a pick they already knew would be a top-five; no trade deadline moves or draft floor wheeling and dealing here. We’re looking for teams that traded their pick in the previous calendar year or earlier, meaning that like Ottawa, they didn’t know their pick would be so high when they moved it.)

The Senators will be hoping not to expand that club to nine. But if they do, a look back at those previous cases might give us a sense of what to expect.

A word about arbitrary endpoints

But first: Wait, why are we going back 35 years?

It’s admittedly a bit of a weird place for a cutoff. But when it comes to teams trading away top five picks, there’s actually an interesting reason to draw the line right around 1983.

In the 35 years since, the scenario plays out just those eight times (one of which probably shouldn’t even count, as we’ll see). But from 1980 through 1983, it happened ten times in just four years. That’s kind of crazy, and the list includes the picks used on future Hall of Famers like Denis Savard, Larry Murphy and Pat LaFontaine, not to mention three out of four first overall picks.

What happened? That’s probably a topic for a bigger piece, but we can call it the Sam Pollock influence. Pollock, the legendary Canadiens GM who built the last great Habs dynasty in the 70s, was constantly trading veterans for future draft picks that he turned into stars like Guy Lafleur and Larry Robinson. It was his signature move, and it worked so well that you wondered why other GMs weren’t catching on. They eventually did, and you can pretty much divide the history of trading for future draft picks into three distinct eras: The Pollock era, spanning the late 60s to late 70s, in which he was the undisputed king of the move; 1980 through 1983, in which a few other GMs caught on and started pulling off that kind of deal; and 1984 through to today, in which everyone smartened up and realized that trading a future first-round pick is a dangerous move and the deals became an endangered species.

Endangered, but not extinct, as Senator fans are well aware. So today, let’s draw that line at 1983 and look back at the eight times since then that a team has traded away what turned out to be a top-five pick in advance. It’s a club that Ottawa’s front office is really hoping it isn’t about to join, although as we’ll see, sometimes the results are more disastrous than others.

Pierre Larouche (L). (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

1984 – Montreal and Hartford

The circumstances: We have to go way back to December of 1981 for the actual trade here. Back then, the Habs and Whalers had only been division rivals for a few months. Hartford had failed to win a playoff game in two seasons since arriving in the WHA merger, and on December 20, they lost 8-2 to the Sabres to fall to 7-16-9 on the year, dead last in the division. New Whalers’ GM Larry Pleau figured they could use some help.

The trade: The Whalers and Canadiens hooked up on a Pollock-style trade that saw Pierre Larouche head to Hartford. Larouche had just turned 26, was a year removed from a 91-point season, and had 21 points through 22 games that season, so he was a decent pickup. He did fine in Hartford for a few years before leaving as a free agent.

But the rest of the deal was unusual, with the teams swapping a total of five picks – all of them coming in 1984 and 1985.

The pick: The two teams exchanged first-rounders in 1984, three years down the line. By then, the Canadiens weren’t very good, finishing with just 75 points. But the Whalers were even worse, and their pick ended up being fifth overall. The Canadiens used it to take defenceman Petr Svoboda.

The aftermath: Svoboda was a decent player. But the Whalers used Montreal’s pick to take Sylvain Cote, who was basically the same guy, so we can call this one even. If you’re a Senators fan looking for assurance that these deals can work out OK, this one helps.

That said, the deal could have been a history-altering debacle for Hartford. The top prospect in that 1984 draft was a French kid who turned out to be pretty good, and it’s safe to assume Montreal had him in mind when they made the deal way back in 1981. If the Whalers had been even worse than they were, this could have been the trade that put Mario Lemieux in Montreal.

1987 – Bruins and Canucks

The circumstances: By the 1986 offseason, the Canucks hadn’t won a playoff round since their surprise trip to the 1982 final, and were getting tired of being also-rans to Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers. So they decided to trade their 1987 first to the Bruins for somebody who could make an impact right away.

The trade: In June 1986, the Canucks landed two-time 100-point center Barry Pederson from Boston in exchange for their 1987 first rounder, plus a young winger who’d been kind of a disappointment through three seasons.

The pick: Thanks in parts to Pederson, the Canucks actually improved in 1986-87. But so did a few of the league’s other bottom-feeders, and Vancouver’s pick ended up being third overall. The Bruins used it to take defenseman Glen Wesley.

The aftermath: Wesley was a good player, and played in the 1989 all-star game. He’d spend seven years in Boston, many of them alongside Ray Bourque, and was eventually traded to Hartford for a stunning haul of three first-round picks, all of which ended up in the top ten.

Still, it could have been worse. The Canucks finished the season with three straight wins; take a few of those away, and the Bruins could have been using a top-two pick on Pierre Turgeon or Brendan Shanahan.

So even though Pederson didn’t stick around very long in Vancouver, trading away the pick to get him wasn’t a total disaster. Well, not on its own. As every Canuck and Bruin fan well knows, that disappointing young winger was a kid named Cam Neely. He exploded in Boston, quickly turning the Wesley pick into an afterthought and making this one of the worst trades of all time.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bizarro-meter 2018: Eastern Conference edition

On​ Monday, we dusted​ off​ the​ Bizarro-meter​ to​ begin​ our annual​ look at which​ NHL team had​ the​ weirdest offseason. We​​ covered the west, going through the Central (not all that weird) and the Pacific (significantly more weird). Today, it’s on to the Eastern Conference.

Before we begin, we’ll repeat the reminder: “Bizarre” is not a synonym for “bad.” Sometimes, a quiet and predictable offseason is the last thing a team needs, and sometimes getting creative or even outright strange is just what the doctor orders. At the very least, weird offseasons are entertaining, and there’s usually value in that.

One more quick note: I’ve been doing this feature for five years now, adding up to over 150 team rankings. In all that time, I’ve never handed out a perfect 10/10 rating. I’ve never come especially close – only four teams have ever so much as reached 9/10.

Why do I bring this up? Uh, no reason. Onto the east.

Metro Division

New York Rangers

The offseason so far: Did they even have one? The Rangers may have been as quiet as anyone in the league, with most of their focus spent on re-signing a handful of pieces. Hiring David Quinn as coach was obviously a big move, but roster-wise he’ll inherit pretty much the same group that finished last year.

But their strangest story was: The ongoing debate over whether or not they’re really rebuilding. Recent signs pointed pretty conclusively to yes – you don’t trade Ryan McDonagh for futures if you want to win now, nor do you write letters to your fans about how you’re “building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.” But then they go and trade picks for Adam McQuaid, and you see something like Henrik Lundqvist insisting that “next year has to be about winning and nothing else,” and you wonder. That’s just a case of a veteran saying the right thing, right? The Rangers still know they’re rebuilding, yes?

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.5/10. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they know – and Lundqvist does too.

Philadelphia Flyers

The offseason so far: They didn’t do a ton, although they made a big splash on July 1 by landing James van Riemsdyk on an expensive (yet reasonable) deal. They also parted ways with Valtteri Filppula, which may or may not be a loss.

But their strangest story was: Heading into camp without an extension in place for Wayne Simmonds. Most GMs see a star player head into the last year of his deal and rush to hand over whatever he wants for eight more years. So far, Ron Hextall is playing it cool.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.8/10. I remain completely and utterly frustrated that this guy refuses to do anything crazy.

New Jersey Devils

The offseason so far: They lost a handful of free agents, although nobody you’d consider a major difference-maker.

But their strangest story was: Not really adding anybody. When your big acquisition is Drew Stafford on a PTO, it’s been a quiet summer.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.1/10. On the one hand, you can see what the Devils are thinking. They’re rebuilding, and last year was already a big step forward, so they’re staying the course. Still, most playoff teams add… someone.

Washington Capitals

The offseason so far: Not surprisingly, their focus was on keeping as much of the roster together as possible. They paid big to keep John Carlson away from the UFA market and figured out a way to have Brooks Orpik bought out and still return. Other than backup goalie Philipp Grubauer and depth forward Jay Beagle, they’re bringing everyone back.

But their strangest story was: The departure of Barry Trotz, who exercised a contract clause none of us knew he had to hit free agency and eventually make his way to the Islanders. You have to figure that didn’t exactly break Brian MacLellan’s heart, given that he’s had Todd Reirden pencilled into the job forever. But it was still pretty weird.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 5.8/10. What do Capitals players think about Trotz leaving? Honestly, given how most of them spent their summer, I doubt any of them know about it yet.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bizarro-meter 2018: Western Conference edition

The​ offseason is over.​ Let’s​ get​ weird.

Or​ more​ specifically,​ let’s remember​ all the various​ ways that NHL​ teams​ got weird over​​ the last few months. It’s time to fire up the Bizarro-meter, a feature I debuted back in 2013 in an attempt to understand whatever it was the Maple Leafs thought they were doing, and have been using since 2014 to round up every team in the league. It’s a high-tech system which evaluates each team’s offseason oddity index by, uh, giving it a score out of ten. Look, we never said this was complicated.

Before we get started, an important annual reminder: “bizarre” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad.” In last season’s list, some of the highest rankings went to the Capitals and Golden Knights, who ended up meeting in the final, as well as to the Avalanche, who shocked everyone by going from dead last to the playoffs. Sometimes, a little bit of chaos can work out well for a team. And maybe more importantly, sometimes a conservative, uninspired, paint-by-numbers offseason is the absolute last thing a team needs.

So with that caveat in mind, let’s dig in. As always, a team’s offseason begins the moment its season ends and stretches until last weekend. We’ll start today with the 15 Western Conference teams; we’ll be back to finish up with the Eastern Conference Tuesday.

Central Division

Nashville Predators

The offseason so far: They locked down Ryan Ellis on a long-term deal, and got future starter Juuse Saros signed at a very manageable number. Mike Fisher retired again, Dan Hamhuis will slot in for Alexei Emelin, and Auston Watson will miss a third of the season pending an appeal of his suspension for domestic assault. But otherwise, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners will bring back mostly the same roster.

But their strangest story was: Signing Zac Rinaldo always raises a few eyebrows, even when it’s a two-way deal. But the strangest moment of their offseason probably came when Ryan Johansen and Ryan Kesler appeared to arrange a street fight over Twitter.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 2.2/10. At this point, not being a jerk on Twitter is basically a terms of service violation, so even the Kesler/Johansen spat doesn’t earn many points. We’re not used to seeing a whole offseason go by without a major trade or two from David Poile, but for now it probably makes sense to stay the course with a top Cup contender.

Minnesota Wild

The offseason so far: It started early, with the firing of GM Chuck Fletcher in April. But other than that, it’s been strangely quiet; the biggest headlines were the signing of Matt Dumba to a $30-million extension and a buyout for Tyler Ennis.

But their strangest story was: Not making many moves. The Wild have been spinning their wheels for years now, always good enough to make the playoffs but never quite good enough to feel like a real contender. At some point, they’re going to need to move forward or take a step back. For now, they seem content to plod ahead with the status quo.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 3.7/10. New GM Paul Fenton appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach. Sometimes that works out well. Sometimes it just means another lost season.

Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

The offseason so far: It’s been largely a case of maintaining the status quo, which makes sense given the season they’re coming off. The only major departure was deadline rental Paul Stastny, and they didn’t add anything major. Instead, the big headlines were around extension for existing players, including an intriguingly long one for Connor Hellebuyck, a disappointingly short one for Jacob Trouba, and an impressively cheap one for Josh Morrissey.

But their strangest story was: Signing captain Blake Wheeler to an extension that will carry an $8.25 million cap hit until he’s 37. That deal was mostly well-received in Winnipeg, although other reviews haven’t been as kind.

Bizarro-meter ranking: 4.2/10. The Wheeler deal may well turn out to be a mistake. But bizarre? Not really. Wheeler is enormously popular in Winnipeg, is coming off a career year, and is the team’s captain. NHL teams almost never play hardball with those sort of guys, even if there’s some evidence that they should.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

That Eugene Melnyk video: The top-secret transcript

It’s​ almost 24​ hours later, and​ hockey​ fans around​ the league are still talking​​ about The Video.

You know the one. Late Monday night, the Ottawa Senators unveiled a video featuring owner Eugene Melnyk being interviewed by defenceman Mark Borowiecki. It was meant as an opportunity for Melnyk to finally lay out a long-term vision for the team’s future. But not everyone was impressed, partly due to Melnyk’s message and partly because the video struck many as, in the words of colleague James Gordon, “deeply weird”.

One element that’s come in for some criticism is the choice to have Borowiecki handle the interview duties. But while it may surprise some of the team’s more cynical fans, the Senators actually put a lot of thought into that decision. In fact, we’ve been told that the club even held auditions to make sure they nailed the best choice possible for the role. And as luck would have, DGB spies were there to record the top-secret transcript.

Director: And… CUT!

Mark Borowiecki: Whew. Was that OK?

Director: That was great, Mark. You did fantastic. But Eugene and I were talking, and we’d like to bring in a few other folks from around the hockey world to audition for the interviewer’s role.

Eugene Melnyk: Yeah, we’re just not sure that having an actual Senator do the interview is going to look good. Might seem a little softball-y, you know?

Borowiecki: Sure, I guess that makes sense.

Director: Thanks for understanding. Feel free to stick around while we run through a few more auditions. OK, first up is, let’s see … Henrik Zetterberg.

Zetterberg: Hi everyone.

Melnyk: Wow, thanks for coming out Henrik.

Zetterberg: Hey, my pleasure. I always wanted to try out this whole interviewing thing. Gives me something to do in retirement, you know.

Melnyk: You’re retired?

Zetterberg: Uh…

[Ken Holland appears in the window, making a throat-slash gesture.]

Zetterberg: Something to do while I’m injured. You know, as I work my way back from injury so that I can resume my playing duties under my contract without triggering any cap penalties. Which is totally what I’m doing.

[Holland does the eye-point move.]

Zetterberg [under his breath]: Yzerman’s totally replacing you.

Melnyk: What was that?

Zetterberg: Nothing. You know what, this may have been a bad idea.

Marc Bergevin: Did I hear somebody say “bad idea”?

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Why I'm Joining The Athletic

I​ realized something​ a few months ago​ that​ simultaneously made​ me feel very old and​​ also kind of proud: I’m now into my second decade of sportswriting.

That’s not all that much in the grand scheme of things, and you don’t get a trophy or collectible pin for it, but it’s still kind of neat. And it feels like the sort of milestone that goes well with a major career change. Today, I can share that I’ve reached that point, too. Earlier this summer, I agreed to join The Athletic on a full-time basis.

And now, I’m writing a post about it, because they are making me do that.

It’s kind of a thing around here.

I’m guessing you know the drill. Computer scientists estimate that the internet produces roughly 1,200 petabytes of data per month, and at this point, I think roughly half of that is sportswriters explaining why they’ve joined The Athletic. By now, you’re familiar with the basics – the industry is going through a tough time, new business models are needed, and it no longer feels unreasonable to ask readers to pay for a product that has value, just like they do in almost every other type of business. Not having to fight through ads or auto-playing videos to get to the content is a nice bonus.

All of that is true. I’m just not sure how much I can add to it. But I’ve always believed in a “when in Rome” type of philosophy. When you move to a new neighborhood, you learn the local customs. When you’re in a stadium and everyone else starts doing the wave, you roll your eyes and join in. When you’re traded to the Senators, you immediately demand a trade away from the Senators. And when you join The Athletic, you write a post about why you’re joining The Athletic.

So that’s what I’m doing.

But how? What’s the angle? How do you make something like this feel fresh? I briefly considered posting an adorable childhood photo of myself sleeping under The Athletic bed sheets, but apparently, somebody else already beat me to that idea. So instead, I’m going to stick with the story of how I got here. Because it’s not one that many of my peers can tell.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic