You’re probably wondering just what the hell Nathan Horton is doing as the picture on this article. In truth, it’s because he’s the reason I started ‘The Oilers Rig‘ just over eight years ago.
I had just completed my freshman year at Springfield College and was trying to build my portfolio to help make a career in journalism when I graduated in 2016. I had dabbled in blogging about the Edmonton Oilers before, but had a hard time staying engaged. This time, however, GM Craig MacTavish was rumored to be hot after both Nathan Horton and David Clarkson. I, naturally, had thoughts about it that I wanted to share.
I contacted Lowetide via DM on Twitter to get some advice, which he kindly gave me. I signed up on WordPress and got to work to very next day, with the Rig going live in late June, 2013.
It was supposed to be a little hobby that I’d likely leave behind when I graduated. It was supposed to just showcase my work and be a fun project. It was never meant to grow as big as it did. I was shocked when our NHL Draft live blog hit 1,000 views just days later, and stunned when we doubled that to 2,000 views when free agency opened on July 5th that year.
From there, I was fortunate enough to make guest appearances on TSN1260, visit Edmonton twice, make countless friends through Oilers Twitter and the blogosphere, get a complement from Steve Pinizzotto and create a brand that has become recognizable in one of the most passionate sports markets in the world.
That’s what makes saying goodbye pretty damn hard.
This will be my final article here at the Rig. My days blogging about the Oilers, and hockey in general, are over.
I can’t think the people who helped out over the years enough. It starts with Lowetide, but doesn’t come close to ending with him. Dave Gordon and Jeremy Thompson was instrumental in that first summer, back in 2013, to making the Rig what it became. Dave was outstanding behind the scenes and with writing, while Jeremy pushed the first Rig podcasts hard and helped build the brand.
Without those two, both pushing me and helping me, there is no way the Rig becomes what it does.
Jackie Bondurant came on board shortly after, and helped give the Rig a bigger social media presence. The efforts she put in on that front helped take the Rig to a new level, really growing the outreach on social media. She and Dave also worked tirelessly to organization the first MS ‘Rig Radio Live’ fundraisers, which were amazing.
Megan Fowler and Avry Lewis-McDougall also joined up in the coming years, and they’ve stuck around dealing with me for almost six years now. There would be no Oilers Rig without those people.
There were countless contributors over the years too, like Bret Litke, Romulus’ Apotheosis on Twitter, Rex Codex Libris, WheatNOil and so many more. For all your work and help over the years, thank you. It was greatly appreciated.
Mostly though, I wanted to write this piece to thank all of you, the people who have come here for Oilers content for eight terrific years. Sure, the hockey wasn’t the best during that span, but we had fun talking about it. Hell, I have fond memories of the ‘decade of darkness’ because of this website, because of YOU, the people who came here, read our articles and interacted with us both here and on social media.
We’ve debated about every signing from Andrew Ference to Tyson Barrie, about every trade from Ladislav Smid to Dmitry Kulikov. At times it’s been frustrating, I wonder if Daryl Katz ever read that letter I wrote that exploded back in 2014, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. It’s been a blast.
I’m an Oilers fan for life. I always have been and always will be. This team is a part of my identity, and quite frankly this website became a source of pride for me over the years. Leaving wasn’t easy, but was the right call at this time in my life.
I hope to see ‘The Oilers Rig‘ thrive without me. I hope to see the Oilers themselves thrive. I’ll be watching, without doubt.
As for why I’m leaving, well, sometimes you have to turn the page. I’ve received a terrific opportunity, the chance of a lifetime. I’ve decided to accept the new challenge, and part of that means moving on from this website.
I hope you’ll still follow along on Twitter @Alex_Thomas14, and I hope we’ll still be able to interact. My next chapter will be announced soon.
Before I look forward, however, I wanted to take this look back. I wanted to thank Lowetide for helping an enthusiastic college kid set up his blog. I wanted to thank everyone who directly had a hand in that blog’s success. And I wanted to thank you, the readers who made it so much fun to do this.
You’ll be hearing from me soon.
Take care, and remember to have fun watching and talking about this great game.