I knew this post was going to happen someday. Actually, that’s not true; I didn’t know how the Section 328 blog and podcast were going to wrap things up, but I’m glad it’s like this.

It may be cliché to say that there’s a season for everything, but I truly believe that. For nearly nine seasons, I’ve been part of what became the 328 crew, and now it’s time for a new season.

The first tweet from Section 328 was:

Our first podcast was roughly two years later and thankfully does not exist on the internet. We truly had no idea what we were doing (whether we do now is still up for debate), likely no one outside our families listened, but we had fun talking hockey. We did another podcast the next week, then the week after that, and hundreds of weeks over the following six years.

We kept having fun with the show, and that spilled into live podcasts, larger tailgates, and sponsored food and beer to share with Canes fans. However, times and priorities in life change.

I have a two-year old daughter who puts a smile on my face every day and whose dad wants to spend more time with her. My wife has been supportive of this crazy ride since we first started dating, and after eight years of telling her how amazing playoff hockey is, we experienced every home game together last year. I say this with all seriousness: those few weeks in April and May meant more to me than seeing the Canes win the Stanley Cup.

That playoff run was magical, and in retrospect, was the beginning of the end for my investment in the 328 business. Every tailgate was amazing, and it was incredible to see how many of you turned up to cheer on the Canes with us, but each one was a lot of work as well. After taking some time to physically and mentally recover from all the energy spent on playoff games, I slowly came to the realization that the next generation of fan groups/blogs/podcasts are probably better equipped to provide content than I am at this point.

All of that said, 328 wouldn’t have enjoyed these years nearly as much without the support from so many. I’m going to try to break up all the thanks into categories. Here goes:

Family: As mentioned above, my wife Camden has been so supportive of everything we’ve done at 328. Without her encouragement to try new things and making time for me to goof off with friends, there’s no way the podcast would have become what it did. Side note: she’s super talented, and you should totally follow all her ventures. My parents have been incredibly supportive as well – sharing updates about a sport they don’t really follow, watching our daughter so I can go to games, and so much more. They’ve been instrumental. Hell, even my daughter has a Section 328 shirt and any time she sees our logo, she says “daddy’s shirt.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve become a puddle.

Hockey Family: This starts with Jack Spencer. If it weren’t for him getting season tickets in 328 row C before the Canes’ first game, who knows if any of this would have happened. OK, I think I’ve stalled enough without mentioning Mike. I truly don’t remember what year it was that we started tailgating together, but it’s hard for me to think of going to a game and not sharing a beverage and yelling at Lars Eller with this guy. I give Mike a lot of shit, but 1) I know he can take it, 2) I also let him know that I love him.

Mike’s the one who said “let’s do a podcast,” he’s the one who set up the audio equipment from day one, had the idea of going to the draft in Philly (which became the fist of five drafts 328 would attend), and was the loudest voice for so many of the ways 328 gave back to the community. Whether it was raising money for friends fighting cancer, spontaneously emceeing St. Baldricks outside the arena, organizing a volunteering event, or finding ways to donate money to whatever the Canes call their charitable foundation these days, Mike was instrumental in making that happen.

Leigh has been right there since day one of 328 to support both of our crazy ideas, and finding new ways to add something to make friends new and old smile. Mike spoke more about her on the podcast, but I appreciate all she’s done as well.

Tom was the first “new” person to join our group and I had NO idea that more would follow suit over the next few years. I forget who was next, and that’s really not the point here because I sincerely appreciate how he, Oliver, Hannah, Pat, Dan, and JC made our group better and more interesting. I’ve learned a lot from all of them.

Oh yeah, Meg. Trust me, omitting her from the above paragraph wasn’t out of absent-mindedness. Meg gets a separate mention because she, moreso than anyone involved with 328, was the most consistent content creator. I’m betting she had no idea what her Hurricane Watch series would become, but there’s a strong argument to make that it’s the best piece of recurring content to ever come from 328. In addition to those light-hearted posts, her series on fandom was some of the most important writing we’ve had on this site and I’m thankful that she helped us be more receptive to additional voices from hockey fans.

Sponsors: Several businesses attached their names and their reputations to our podcast and website. That’s a lot of trust for any business owner to put into our crew. We appreciated it at the time ink hit paper, and it’s somehow even more meaningful to me in hindsight. Thank you to Taxi Taxi (our first sponsor), Bottlemixx (our longest-tenured sponsor and home of our first-ever live podcast), Dawn Meyer, and New Belgium Brewing.

Thank you to the sponsors who helped fill the bellies (and livers) of tailgaters. In addition to New Belgium, these folks fed and served beverages to hundreds: Trophy Brewing, Mason Jar Lager, BDD Brewing, Donatos Pizza, Johnny’s Pizza, and Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

Hayes and the entire SportsChannel8 crew have been so much fun to partner with as well, and I’m so happy to see their success.

Guests: Oh man, we’ve been so fortunate to have so many great guests join the podcast and contribute to the blog. Thanks to Caniac Chef for sharing tailgate recipes, to Will Luper and even the now-legendary Wade Minter for writing guest articles here.

On the podcast front, I’m incredibly thankful for people like John Forslund who gave us nearly an hour of his time once a year. Forslund was one of our original “dream guests” and I never thought we’d get to talk to him for so long. His generosity lent us credibility that I’m still amazed by.

Mike Maniscalco has been there for us as probably our most frequent podcast guest. There are countless examples of how great of a guy he is, and we’re lucky to have had him join the show so often.

So many more guests have gifted us with their time, insights, and expertise. I could go on and on, but I’m appreciative of all of them to some extent… even Jeff O’Neill.

Sara Civian joined us for a live podcast at the Rialto when she’d only been in Raleigh for like, an hour. Alison Lukan still hasn’t told us what “Tulsky hockey” is. Despite where she went to school, Michelle McMahon was always a joy to talk with.

Friends and Fans of 328: There are a few sub-categories I could break this into, but to not make this post two Workrates long, I won’t. To everyone who showed up to a tailgate, showed up to lots of tailgates, bought one of our silly shirts, subscribed to the podcast, told a friend to follow us on Twitter, clicked an affiliate link on our site, and especially those who supported us on Patreon: THANK YOU. All of your myriad types of support kept what we do (did?) alive.

There are so many people I now consider great friends who I met because of 328. For that, I’m forever thankful.

Now the question of how in the hell do I close this post. I have no idea of an eloquent way to summarize all of the above, but then again, I had no clue about a hell of a lot more when we started this ride back in 2011. When we started tweeting and podcasting, it was near the beginning of a long playoff drought, and being cynical of the team, players, and sometimes other fans was our go-to. It’s easy to do that, but I’ve learned that it didn’t bring me long-term joy.

Sharing gratitude and love is something I’m working on every day and I’ve found that putting that mindset into the world makes me a happier person. Since this may be the last time I have this platform, I want to use it to encourage everyone who made it to this paragraph to be less cynical. Be the fan and person you’d love to sit next to.

Until next time,