Today marks the 24th birthday of the site that is now DetroitHockey.Net.
Normally, that would mean the start of the site’s 25th season. The NHL’s 2019-20 season is still going but the Red Wings haven’t played since March so is this actually the start of a new season? I don’t know.
Often I use the site’s birthday as an opportunity to muse on what’s next for the site. Specifically, I focus on what the site will become, in the context of what more there is to do. Coming up to this anniversary, though, I’ve realized I look at it from the wrong direction. I shouldn’t be focusing on what more DH.N could be, I should be focusing on what DH.N is now.
Twenty-four years in, DH.N has a lot of baggage. I’ve fought with the idea of the site not “just” being a blog but, to use The Hockey Rodent‘s insistent terminology, a full service web site. The thing is, a full service web site had very different meaning in, say, 2003, than it does today.
When I started this site, and continuing for a long time after that, it was meant to be an archive. I collected photos and videos and historical tidbits. I wrote what I now call soul-less game recaps because newspapers weren’t putting their archives online and I wanted visitors to be able to go back to a specific game and see what had happened.
For awhile, that made sense. In 2007, ESPN ran a story on the 10th anniversary of the Detroit-Colorado brawl and linked to DH.N’s videos because, even in the early days of YouTube, we had the best collection of them. It crashed the site, actually.
For a long time, I felt obligated to keep doing that because it was what I started doing. Even after YouTube became omnipresent and provided a home for every highlight imaginable. Even after NHL.com added recaps to every game. Even after Wikipedia housed every list of captains, award winners, and coaches.
What took me too long to realize is that no one needs that anymore. I was trying to figure out what the next steps were for a site that was already very much a relic of the past. What will DetroitHockey.Net become? Now I can answer: Smaller.
I removed the archive of NHL award winners awhile ago. The lists of Red Wings coaches and captains and such were recently removed. I’ll be re-working the Multimedia Archive to just be a collection of my own photos, as I still enjoy taking those at games. I kept the list of Red Wings draft picks because I want to have that data for myself so I might as well display it. I kept the diagram of the banners in the Joe Louis Arena rafters because I’m a geek about those things and the JLA rafters were way better than the ones at LCA.
And, of course, the fantasy hockey section of the site was spun off into FantasyHockeySim.com back in 2016.
I’m going to start by recognizing what DH.N is now, rather than what it was or what I once wanted it to be. Then maybe I can see where it goes from there.
Being a jersey number geek, I also like to use site birthdays to look at the corresponding jersey number. It turns out that 24 is a pretty quiet number over the lifespan of DH.N.
Bob Probert had left the team in 1994 so when the site was founded in 1996, #24 was vacant. It wouldn’t be until the Red Wings traded for Chris Chelios in 1999 that it was put back in use, with Probert’s blessing.
Chelios wore #24 for a decade in Detroit but there wasn’t much of a gap once the Red Wings declined to bring him back in 2009. Brad May signed with Detroit two games into the 2009-10 season and, after one game wearing #20 (which he had also worn in training camp on a pro tryout), he asked Chelios for permission to wear #24.
May wore #24 in Detroit for 39 games that season, then closed out his career with 17 games in Grand Rapids wearing #29 with the Griffins.
For the 2010-11 campaign, newly-signed defenseman Ruslan Salei would be assigned #24 for his lone season with the Red Wings. Fatefully, Salei left Detroit for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL, along with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, both of whom were killed with the rest of the team in a plane crash on September 7, 2011. The next player to wear #24 for Detroit would be Pavel Datsyuk, who wore it for the 2011 preseason in Salei’s honor.
Damien Brunner was assigned #24 for the lockout-shortened 2013 season, his only year with the Red Wings.
It is currently assigned to prospect Antti Tuomisto.