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A little guidance for VLM as the lockout arrives...

Clearly we will be in a quiet period for NHL news for some time to come. Lately we have been, predictably, reduced to talking about labour issues, the lockout and the impact that will all have on the sport.  As fans, it mostly puts us on edge. As hockey fans that have been through now four different hockey stoppages in the last twenty years, our challenge will be to take advantage of the time we would  normally spend following the Leafs and instead, make productive use of that time.  Fans did it before and will again.  But yes, we will miss hockey, for sure.

I had promised myself I would try not to fall into a pattern of commenting on the NHL "talks" on a regular basis.  To a certain extent, I have backtracked on my own intentions by discussing this issue as much as I have.  (I should add that the good news is that I have been impressed with the depth of commentary readers have shared here in recent weeks/days.  I’ve very much enjoyed and appreciated your posts and comments.  I wish the negotiators had as much common sense and wisdom—and honesty.)

But here’s the reality:  three years now into the advent of Vintage Leaf Memories (launched here as some of you know in September of 2009) and after almost 1,100 columns, we won’t have NHL hockey to chat  this fall, or for that matter, anytime soon.  They could be gone for more than a year or more.

That puts this site in an interesting spot.  I have no intention of changing formats, talking about cooking or the stock market.  And while I enjoy junior hockey a great deal, and know that the Marlies will likely be entertaining this season, that's not quite the same thing.  Others do a fantastic job covering those hockey outlets and I won't even try to compete with that.

I’ve put a fair bit of time, care and thought into developing the tone of this site so I will not be turning to guest bloggers or any of that, except on the possible rare occasion (an upcoming guest post regarding Darryl Sittler fits that bill, as one example, for a particular reason you will notice when the article is posted…).

I could essentially shut the site down for the duration of the lockout.  That’s one possibility.  My own instinct is that I would like to keep the site alive, as a forum to discuss hockey-related issues, albeit recognizing the absence of hard Leaf news (with the notable exception of the Marlies/junior prospects cited above...).  But that’s where things get tricky for me—and not easy.

Now, I have plenty of stories to share about the old-days.  I could post something pretty much daily about fond Leaf memories of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, even the ‘80s.  As most of you know, that has been a staple of the VLM site from the beginning.  I’d be happy to continue to do that.  But my experience here suggests that the vast majority of people who visit here don’t really care for the old-time stories.  Whenever I do post on things I love to chat about from the old days, the “numbers” (I’m no expert at analytics or whatever it’s called, but I can see the bottom line!)  of visitors drops quite precipitously whenever I touch on subjects not relating to the Leafs here and now.

I think I understand the reasons why, but this is where the rubber meets the road.  If people aren’t interested in the “old-time” memories during what will no doubt be a prolonged lockout, well, that will be a challenge.  I’m not personally interested in talking daily about the labour talks.  That would no doubt mean days of no real news and even when the two sides do meet, it will mostly be more useless p.r. spin and annoying quotes from both sides, as they try to win us all over to their view of the world. (Quick aside, I'm probably alone on this, but can someone ask the players to stop wearing their hats- and backwards at that - when they have their little solidarity photo-ops with Fehr?  They’re grown men and supposedly "business partners" in this mess…)

I recognize that this is not of urgent interest or importance to anyone, but if you do have a thought as to how VLM might proceed, by all means share your comments.



  1. Michael,

    I would like to say again, how much I appreciate what you do, and the way in which you do it. Thanks. As a hockey fan who just turned forty, I enjoy hearing more stories about the players that arrived before my time. They are wonderful, and I look forward to reading more of them. But since I wasn't around to witness these players and the teams they were on. There just isn't that much for me to say about them, other than the nice story sir, kind of thing. I do hope that you write about them during the short lockout, fingers crossed.

  2. Thank you Jim. I really appreciate those who visit here regularly- my challenge is trying to determine if, in a "lockout world", readers will be interested in, say, less frequent posts, and/or a focus on the 'olden days' when I do post!

    Thanks for chiming in as you do. I enjoy and appreciate every post.

  3. Michael,

    I do appreciate the stories from earlier times and I do recognize that some people are more interested in what we have now... it's a bit of a conundrum what to do during a lockout.

    Perhaps the numbers will diminish without the current context, however, there are a lot of younger/newer fans that may not know 'our' history as well as might be possible... and yet, they are actually coming to a site called "Vintage" Leaf "Memories" for a bit of historical perspective - they really shouldn't be surprised when you write about such things, especially in the absence of any current events about the game itself (as opposed to the economics/politics)!

    Maybe those numbers will be lower, but the quality will remain high, even if the correlation to current players will be, necessarily, limited. I would be surprised if you wrote every day during a lockout and might suggest you choose your best personal days for writing and just let us know which days of the week to come for a look (if you decide that daily is a bigger commitment than the league is making).

    I wonder if you might surf the net for some accessible videos of old games that could be referenced/linked when you relate your own memories?

    This might serve the purpose of showing other visitors more of the visual content/ experience that you're relating. It may actually conjur some interesting discussion related to similarities/differences in the the game from the different eras.

    Not sure if such links would be appropriate, but if a picture is worth a 1000 words, perhaps a moving picture is worth a few more!

  4. Thank you for that, InTimeFor62. I think posting less often makes sense, for sure. I'll think on the video notion.

  5. "But my experience here suggests that the vast majority of people who visit here don’t really care for the old-time stories."

    I like those, but I think they need to be relevant to the hot issues and news of today. To give us context and guidance...I think that is where history has its greatest value...even hockey history.

    "And while I enjoy junior hockey a great deal, and know that the Marlies will likely be entertaining this season, that's not quite the same thing. Others do a fantastic job covering those hockey outlets and I won't even try to compete with that."

    But they won't be talking about the AHL or Marlies in a historical context or relating current events to the stories of the past.

    Back in the days of the original six, a significant part of the hockey stories were in the minors. One only has to think of Johny Bower and 15? years in the AHL. Theres the whole Jean BĂ©liveau and Quebec Aces story.

    Perhaps you won't be able to post as often, but I still think you have a valuable niche to fill.

  6. That makes a lot of sense. You've given me some food for thought, DP. Thanks.

  7. Here's an Oiler blogger making the transition to the AHL and making it seem exciting:

    So I'm the Barons Blogger Now?

    Judging from what I see here, it looks like he will be following the Barons with attention to what it means for the Oilers in the near future.

    Something like that for the Leafs, but with your intelligent, balanced style along with an eye to Leaf history might work well.

  8. I've been thinking on your earlier comment, DP. This helps. Thank you.

  9. Michael,

    The title "Vintage Leafs Memories" was what drew me to the your blog in the first place. The quality of the articles and the comments kept me coming back each day. The blogs are first class and almost everyone who comments offer well thought out and thought provoking ideas. Yours is a blog on the highest plane and is very much appreciated.

    I think you know that I would be appreciative of stories of historical perspective. Many of your blogs and comments have jogged my memory, bringing recollections of events and players that I had forgotten.

    I would also like to see some coverage of the Marlies. We have some very good young players who will be playing there and it would be nice to keep track of their progress.

    It will be understandable if you don't post as often. It has constantly amazed me that you can come up with posts as often as you do.

  10. Thanks Pete Cam. I appreciate your thoughts. I'll try to do some Marlie stuff, though I am not as close to that scene as some other Leaf-related writers.

    I will likely post less often, for sure. But we'll see how things evolve.