How time flies. When the puck drops on Thursday night for the start of the Carolina Hurricanes 2016-17 season, Canes and Coffee will officially start its second year as a local, independent site covering Canes hockey for the Caniac Nation.
I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped fund the Kickstarter last summer and everyone new and old who spends part of their Hurricanes hockey time at Canes and Coffee. We (and it is gradually becoming more we) at Canes and Coffee could not be happier to be a small part of an absolutely phenomenal hockey community!
After a first season trying to get my feet under me and not die from sleep deprivation, things finally seemed to settle into a bit more of a routine by the second half of the 2015-16 season. That provided the courage (or maybe craziness) to extend Canes and Coffee a couple steps further for the 2016-17 season.
Expanded writing team
Most significantly, regular readers will have already noticed a few new faces, or at least names, and different voices on the site.
As arguably the first local Hurricanes blog to cover the Charlotte Checkers in depth with a dedicated writer who covers the team from Charlotte, Canes and Coffee is thrilled to have Jordan Futrell returning to cover all things Checkers hockey from Charlotte. The first of Jordan’s 2-part Charlotte Checkers season preview can be found HERE.
In addition, Canesa and Coffee is thrilled to add Andrew Schnittker who will be writing a weekly recap and possibly other things. Many Hurricanes fans are already familiar with Andrew’s work from his coverage during the 2015-16 season at The Technician which is North Carolina State’s student newspaper. Like Jordan, Andrew was chomping at the bit to get started and already did. You can find Andrew’s most recent ‘Week in Review’ post HERE.
Finally, last but not least, Canes and Coffee is thrilled to welcome Cory Fogg. Cory will primarily write deeper features. (…the kind I aspire to write but rarely do because of lack of time and also lack of writing ability to write much longer posts and still maintain some level of coherency/readability :-)). His article detailing the gradual roster transformation from Rutherford to Francis is a must-read.
I will use a different article to introduce Jordan, Andrew and Cory in more detail later this week, so it does not get buried and lost in this long article.
I also strongly encourage you to follow them on Twitter where all are pretty active during hockey season.
Jordan Futrell = @CheckingIn28
Andrew Schnittker = @aschnitt53
Cory Fogg = @coryfogg
In addition to expanded coverage from adding the new people, voices and viewpoints noted above, Canes and Coffee also has a couple new things in the works. Over the course of the off-season, we gathered formal feedback via a few short surveys and also informal feedback from talking to readers with the aim learning what people liked, did not like, wanted more of, etc. after the first year of Canes and Coffee. We are taking that input to heart and doing our best (where possible) to expand the areas that people find most interesting.
Different angle on prospect coverage
The cat is already partly out of the bag on this one with nearly completed (PLEASE let Kingston Frontenacs’ media relations finally come through on my couple requests :-)) ‘back to school’ series that featured expert insight from current and former coaches and also ‘feet on the ground/people at the games’ scouts and analysts who regularly watch the individual Canes prospects. HERE you can find the most recent entry on Nicolas Roy which also includes a complete menu of the prior articles. A couple other things are in process (hopefully), but the general direction is to augment (not replace) local prospect coverage that relies heavily on research (since it obviously is not possible these players much once they depart to the CHL, NCAA or Europe to start the season) with more direct player feedback from team and media/analyst/scout resources local to the individual players who are watching them closely just like we do the Hurricanes.
An increase in the lighter side
The core of Canes and Coffee is in-depth and analytical coverage of the Carolina Hurricanes. That will continue to be the foundation of the site, but the 2016-17 season will also sprinkle in a little bit more light and ‘off the ice’ coverage. Summer readers received a small taste of this with our great week of guest articles. You can find the final post HERE and also a menu to the other articles from that series. The 2016-17 season will feature another round or 2 of guest posts once we get into a routine for the new season, some lighter stuff from some of the new writers and a couple other things that will be revealed as the season progresses.
Please consider signing up for the Canes and Coffee newsletter (temporarily at top and bottom of main page) which will become the primary means to keep people in the loop as the site grows and evolves in year 2 (so I do not need to hinder those who could care less and only want the hockey here). The newsletter will also offer a little bit of extra Hurricanes hockey coverage not always included on the site.
Aiming for more ‘coffee shop’
One of the my favorite developments this summer was the occasional banter in the comment section of some posts even though it was the dead of the hockey summer. Following the theme of ‘more voices’ from adding more writers, a goal for the 2016-17 season is to have the web site gradually take on more of a community coffee shop feel with more insight and discussion among fans. The hope is that I and other writers too will provide interesting reading but at the same time fade into the background more. It will be gradual but the hope is that old school sports coverage where a handful of people write and everyone else just passively reads is replaced by more interaction and discussion by our knowledgeable fan base whose opinions and viewpoints are easily on par with whatever some small handful of writers can put forward. With hockey back and the Canes and Coffee community both returning and growing with new readers, the hope is that the coffee (shop community discussion) starts to gain equal footing with the Canes (coverage by a handful). Comments are obviously welcome and appreciated for all articles, but a special coffee shop section will feature posts aimed at generating discussion. (See site changes below.)
A fresh coat of paint
Regular visitors may have noticed the changes to the main page and also menu categories that were quietly launched at the end of last week. The main page now gives readers a broader menu of reading choices from the main page. The 5 featured articles at the top of the page will include the 2 most recent (non-daily post) articles on the left side along with 5-6 more if you scroll down past the first section. The right side features a set of 3 that includes the ‘coffee shop’ a place for the most recent feature (usually in-depth) article and a regular place for Daily Cup of Joe. Please also check out the the player links on the right side and the pull-down menu of categories in the top menu as additional navigation options to meet readers’ different preferences.
Stuff, gear, swag, etc.
Over the summer and into early fall, a few people have inquired about Canes and Coffee stuff like t-shirts and of course coffee mugs. That has been on a list of things to do eventually for months now, but to be honest I spent what was theoretically down time in August and early September still writing on a daily basis (even on days it was HARD to come up with a topic some days), pulling together the ‘back to school’ prospect series and also focusing time on hockey coverage stuff like the new writers and other possible coverage initiatives. I simply have not found the time to deal with stuff.
It will not be in form of a merchandise catalog, but my optimistic hope is that in being true to the Coffee part of Canes and Coffee there could at least be coffee cups on the horizon in time for the holiday season. This is a hope and not a promise as it still subject to being deprioritized again to stay true to the original goal of this web site which is to provide great Hurricanes hockey coverage.
Thank you and ‘Yay!’ for hockey!
Thank you again to everyone who spends part of the Hurricanes hockey hobby time at Canes and Coffee! It is an honor to be a small part of such a wonderful community.
Thank you especially to everyone who has reached out with input on the site, feedback or just kind words of encouragement. Please reach out on Twitter, email or on the form on the web site if you ever have something to say.
Also, I would be remiss if I wrote a big, long season 2 introduction and did not include a HIP HIP HOORAY FOR HOCKEY! It is a wonderful time of year with a new season almost here and our team getting both younger and better at the same time.