Today marks the 26th anniversary of DetroitHockey.Net’s founding and, to be honest, I’m feeling somewhat melancholy about it.
I’ve mentioned before, specifically on the site’s 24th birthday, that what DH.N is now isn’t what I expected it to be. I’ve had a hard time reconciling that I spent so much of the early 2000s building DH.N into a full-service website only to see the emergence of Wikipedia and YouTube and social media destroy the need for full-service websites.
I decided then that the site would become smaller. That I would remove features duplicated elsewhere. The thing I failed to account for, though, is that all of this is duplicated elsewhere. DetroitHockey.Net doesn’t need to exist. I’m not filling a niche in the market or anything. Hell, even the branding isn’t unique anymore, as 18 years after I started calling this place “DH.N” we saw the birth of “DHN” (which ties into my mini-rant from last year about professional journalists who formerly complained about bloggers having now turned to blogging as their industry dies).
And speaking of branding, I’m pretty sure I haven’t recovered from the Ilitch-owned Tigers making me change the site’s logo in 2019. We can have a DH.N and a DHN but there can be only one Old English D.
Coming into this anniversary, I asked myself a different question. Rather than what I want DH.N to be, I thought about what I want to do.
I started YzerFan19’s Detroit Red Wings Page in 1996 because I wanted to build a website. The Red Wings were just the most obvious topic for me to work around.
I continued building the site as it became DRW Central and then drwcentral.net. I built content management software before WordPress even existed and used that to get a job building even more websites. When I’d reached the logical extent of building out what was by then called DetroitHockey.Net, I branched off into fantasy hockey and built more software for that, which continues at FantasyHockeySim.com.
What I want is to build software and build websites and, for the most part, FHS is satisfying that desire for me now, not DH.N. It makes me sad to realize that I could probably shutter DH.N today and, after some mourning, feel okay about it.
But I also still want to write about hockey – sometimes. And I have fun with the Stupid Stat of the Day. And I have these weird little hockey-related projects that I like to do. And there are a couple small features of DH.N that don’t really seem to exist anywhere else and I don’t want to give them up.
So I’m not going to shut the site down but I am going to restructure it again.
Sometime soon – after I finish some work I’m doing for FHS, because that takes priority now – DetroitHockey.Net will be re-worked to “just” be the blog. Then there will be a second site, sharing DH.N’s branding, where my hockey-related projects live. The multimedia section of the site might live there, or it might move to another new site, or it might disappear entirely.
No more current Red Wings’ roster or schedule or NHL logo history. It’s just not necessary for me to spend my time maintaining.
On to the frivolities…
It’s become a tradition of mine for these anniversary posts to talk about the players who wore that year’s jersey number since the founding of the site.
Number 26 was not assigned by the Red Wings at this time twenty-six years ago. The previous season saw Ray Sheppard, who had worn it since 1991, traded to San Jose for Igor Larionov. But in December of 1996, Joey Kocur returned to Detroit and reclaimed the number that he had worn before Sheppard.
Kocur would wear #26 for the remainder of his career in Detroit, retiring in 1999, and the number would go unused until Jiri Hudler showed up in the Red Wings’ 2003 training camp.
Hudler kept the number until signing as a free agent with the Calgary Flames in 2012, with the Wings not assigning it during the 2009-10 season while Hudler was playing in the KHL.
Tomas Jurco got #26 in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, having lost the #28 he was previously assigned to free agent signee Carlo Colaiacovo.
Jurco was moved out at the 2017 trade deadline and the number went to Eric Tangradi in training camp the following fall. Tangradi, who mostly played for the Griffins during his time in the Detroit organization had previously worn #49 and never made it into a game with the Wings wearing #26.
Thomas Vanek made his second appearance with Detroit for the 2018-19 season, by which time Tangradi was gone and #26 was available. Vanek’s first run with the team corresponded with Jurco’s final season (in fact, Vanek was also traded at that year’s deadline) so he’d worn #62.
Griffins’ captain Matt Ford was assigned #26 for training camp in 2019 but Cody Goloubef was claimed off waivers by Detroit in February and given that number for the two whole games he played with the team before the season was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By the time the Red Wings hit the ice again in January of 2021, Goloubef was out of the organization and Riley Barber had been added, having been assigned #26. Now Barber is out and the number will be worn in training camp by Pontus Andreasson.