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Reflections on a Single Day and 17 Years

Turns out the real Japers’ Rink was the friends we made along the way...

Washington Capitals Victory Parade And Rally Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

What were you doing 17 years ago?

Like, what were you doing 17 years ago today?

Maybe you were in kindergarten. Or college. Maybe you were working a mediocre nine-to-five that you could’ve sworn you’d have quit by now or had already retired from one. Maybe you were but a dream in your mother’s heart or spending a forgettable day that you’d give anything to remember with a grandparent who’s no longer with us.

Me? I was writing about a hockey game (and probably doing so surreptitiously at my day job... your tax dollars at work) for an audience of, well, mostly me. This blog - this blog in its pre-SB Nation incarnation - was in its infancy then, and, in a way, everything surrounding it was, too. I was a newlywed and in my first job post-law school. The Caps had just returned from taking a season off (literally this time, after a figurative half-season or so off immediately prior). And their recent number one overall pick, Alex Ovechkin, was 45 games into his rookie season (33 goals, 27 assists... I know you were wondering).

Nothing but bright futures all around.

Smash-cut to today and Ovechkin is on the cusp of goal-scoring history, the Caps have won a Cup (but not without generous portions of their own special brand of heartbreak leading up to it to make it all the sweeter), and none of us are the same people we were then.

And through it all, Japers’ Rink has usually just been a click away. It’s been an outlet and a proverbial marketplace of ideas, a forum in which to refine and discard opinions, a place to take refuge among the like-minded or spar with pseudo siblings. It’s been a place to teach and to learn, and somewhere to have social interaction when the world was shut down. I have thought about this site every single day since I launched it, and when my wife and I were blessed with our son (he turns 15 this weekend), I announced it to much of the world on the site, because it was as big a part of my life as most of the people in it.

This blog isn’t my life. But it has been a constant in it, when almost nothing else has been, usually for better and sometimes for worse.

So, yeah, today’s news hit kinda hard. What we’ve built here - and it is decidedly “we” - is a community, which is all I ever wanted the site to be. It was never about the money (ha) or the access (though that’s been cool at times), or having a platform from which to bloviate to a (somewhat) friendly crowd. It’s been about celebrating the highs and lows of a shared devotion. It’s been about getting closer to divining little pieces of truth in how we think about this game. It’s been about conversation. It’s been about community.

I don’t have any idea what’s next. Hopefully we’ll have more information on that in the days and weeks ahead. But we have a lot yet to celebrate. We have a lot yet to understand. We have a lot yet to talk about. To paraphrase Anthony Hopkins in Thor: Ragnarok, Japers’ Rink is not a place, it’s a people. So we’ll find a place for the people.

I mean, what the hell else are we going to do?