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The Shap Shots plan for the 2023-24 NHL season
I hope you'll join us, this is going to be fun.
Roughly 11 months ago I lost my job.
And working in the industry I do, it’s impossible to avoid past co-workers and colleagues. It’s impossible to avoid even the potentially well-meaning “What happened?” questions that pick at emotional the scab that struggles to heal.
Eventually it scabs over, your skin becomes more calloused, and you move forward, stronger because of it.
And Shap Shots became part of that healing process.
This was launched as an experimental space, a sandbox of sorts, where I could test out hockey stories/ideologies/coverage that fit my fancy. Since Sept. 30 of 2022, I’ve written 200 posts — this is post 201 — and honestly it’s one of the happiest spaces I’ve been as a writer.
The audience is smaller, that’s what happens when splitting with a company that is now a behemoth in the market place, but the readers are passionate and they care. The most important part? You cared enough to go with the ebbs and flows, some ideas we tested turned into duds, others flourished, overall, it became a space that I was able to grow as a writer — I am a smarter writer, and person, because of the risks the readership here allowed me to take in the past 11 months.
And when I started this thing I up, I was pretty clear, this was a work in progress. The first story was title, “Working title…” for a reason, because I didn’t know (and probably hoped) it wouldn’t last longer than a month.
Instead it became a fixture for me, even with some other work, which I will continue at this point, this community of readers became my favorite to write for.
So heading into the 2023-24 season, I have content plan that will make your investment worthwhile. I know $7 per month (or $84 per year) can feel like a steep ask, especially in a world where I know I’m competing for your credit card number with Netflix/Apple+/Disney/etc…., but I also don’t believe in cheapening my product with $1 per month deals that are built toward rapid growth, rather than earned retention.
I don’t have a great mission statement, because it’s too convoluted, but Shap Shots bottom line for the 2023-24 season looks something like this:
I will strive to be the most interesting site you read each week. I will cover primarily the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings, two teams I’m most connected to, but will also cover hockey in general. Stories here will be ones that I find interesting, ones that I learned something while working on, and won’t focus on pleasing the algorithm of present day sports coverage.
With that in mind, let’s talk content plan for a typical week.
On Mondays, starting next week, I will focus on having a story on something I find interesting. This is a catch-all statement intentionally, because sometimes it could be a feature story, sometimes it could be an interview, sometimes it could be a column. Basically if it’s publishing on Monday it’s likely something in the human realm of the sport that I found interesting.
Wednesdays, starting tomorrow, are going to be a tactical and game-based looked at the Red Wings, I’m leaning toward calling it Wing Wednesdays. This will be a combination of tactics, film room, and breakdowns related to Detroit.
Thursdays will be similar, but focused on the Stars. Once again a combination of tactics, film room, and breakdowns on the respective team.
Side note: This is where I’ll make my plea/note to Stars fans. Your coverage has been pulled from you at an alarming rate. The major publications in Dallas no longer employ full-time beat reporters on the team, and I can confidently say that in the hockey world, there are few reporters as well-connected or understanding of the DFW hockey market and it’s team. If you want Stars coverage like this to continue on this site, your support means a ton. I won’t be a beat reporter, I’m not there, but I can give your a strong alternative to top-level coverage.
Fridays will be a mailbag/funbag. Each week I’ll take mailbag questions, but I’ll also leave myself the space to explore ridiculous/fun/etc… topics within the hockey world as a lead-in to your respective questions. If you have a topic we should tackle in the fun bag, please let me know.
These are the day-planned elements, as a subscriber, the $7 a month pledge comes with at least four stories per week during the NHL season. That’s something I feel confident promising.
But there will also be more. One of the things that I’ve been kicking around and discussing with others is the state of game coverage, and how Shap Shots fits. Talking with, and eventually stealing an idea from, my good friend Bob Sturm, I’m going to frequently do “My three thoughts” on games I’m either watching or covering in person, similar to the format Grant Wahl first pioneered at Substack in the soccer space.
This will frequently feature Red Wings and Stars games, those are the teams I follow the most, but will also include other games from across the NHL, and I’m leaving the door open for that to include contests from minor league and international events (for example, I’ll probably do something in this realm next week from the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.)
I will also apply a similar approach to hockey breaking news that is worthy of a breakdown/analysis.
Long story short, Shap Shots is going to ramp up this year. If you know me, I don’t half-ass anything. I’m the guy that a former publication once told was, “writing too much, it’s making others look bad,” and I took that as a point of pride.
If you are already a paid subscriber, thank you, your investment is only going to get better. If you aren’t, I encourage you to give it a try and let me earn your investment.
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Hockey season starts this month, let’s have some fun.