On a Wednesday morning way back in February of 2014, I sat down in my high school speech class and got incredibly bored. I got so bored, in fact, that I pulled out my iPad and started to look up information about the 2014 NHL Draft prospects. This was a common thing for me to do; I got bored in class rather often, and seeing as the iPads were issued to students by the school, it was very simple to get away with scrolling through prospect reports instead of paying attention.
What made today different, however, was that this was the day that I decided I had information to share with everyone. I had visited Litter Box Cats before, and knew that it was a place to find quality Panthers discussion. I had also seen the vast number of prospect profiles that are featured on SBNation sites, and figured that LBC would be a great place to share my thoughts.
I wrote an article on my iPad, made an account on LBC, found out that I could submit "FanPosts" and then copied and pasted the text into the FanPost editor. I proofread what I had written at least 10 times, and finally, after tons of internal debate, hit the publish button and sent my FanPost out to the readers of LBC.
That first article was the start of one of the greatest experiences in my life, as the past 596 days have been quite amazing. I started out doing basic prospect analysis, and eventually got into advanced statistics and how they related to the analysis of professional players.
Because of Donny, Todd, JC, Francisco, and the rest of the crew at LBC, I've had the opportunity to grow as a writer, and find one of my life's passions. Hockey is the greatest sport in the world, and I genuinely don't know what I would do if I was completely separated it. Having the chance to cover it, in any way, has been nothing short of spectacular.
Getting press credentials from LBC was also huge in my growth as a writer; I've covered two development camps, and one professional game. I've met and talked to several of the players, and learned a lot from other writers that cover the Panthers.
I've come a far way from that first FanPost on LBC, and now have a consistent writing gig with other websites across the Internet. I'm a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, as well as Today's Slapshot. Eric Tulsky, Matt Pfeffer, and Corey Sznajder all wrote for Prospectus at one point in time, and all three are now with NHL teams, so hopefully I'm on the right track.
As much as I love LBC, and love being a contributor to this amazing website, a paid opportunity has arisen that's simply too enticing to pass up. I'll be moving over to The Rat Trick (the Florida Panthers website under the FanSided branch of sports blogs), where I'll be a co-editor, along with Scott Mullin. Hopefully we can build The Rat Trick into half of what LBC has become over the past couple of years.
This post will be my 170th post on Litter Box Cats, and I want to thank everyone who has made that possible. First up is Donny Rivette, who saw my potential as a writer before I did, and brought me onto the LBC team despite the fact that I had no history of writing and zero online presence. Donny essentially took a chance on me, and I hope that I've rewarded him.
Next is Todd Little, who is seriously one of the best editors you could ever work with. Not only is Todd fast, efficient, and great at catching grammatical errors, he also is a goldmine of writing advice. I learned more about engaging my audience from Todd in one and a half years with LBC than I learned from a plethora of English teachers across my entire educational career. The guy is that good (he's also not too shabby at ball hockey, either).
Next up is JC, Francisco, Kevin, Ryan, and every other blogger who has written for LBC. All of these guys are good at what they do, and being able to communicate with them via email and share hockey ideas has helped me grow as a hockey mind, as well as a writer.
Finally, I want to thank the readers of LBC. Every comment on every post always drove me to keep writing, or to improve until my work couldn't be criticized. The tone and arguments never got confrontational, and though we have Donny to thank for part of that, the community on this website is seriously one of the best on the Internet. Leaving is certainly hard, though I'll stop by every once in a while to see how people are doing.
As a final note, Litter Box Cats was my start in writing about hockey. Wherever I end up, you can be sure that I won't forget where I started, and the awesome people that helped get me where I am today.
Ed. Note: It's been a pleasure and an honor having Shane onboard. His contributions have steadily grown into an amazing working knowledge of the game in general and advanced statistics in particular. Thank you for working - on a volunteer basis - so diligently and with such deep commitment in your time with us, Mr. O'Donnell. The door is always open here, and we look forward to watching your continued success down the road. The very best of luck in all of your endeavors, my friend. - Donny