Hey, everybody. Popping my head out of the blogger grave to wish Battle of California a fucking happy tenth (!!!!!!!!!!) birthday. Holy shit, right? TEN. BoCX!
Anyways, to mark the occasion, gather round and (re)hear the story of how this scourge of a blog became to be. That way you can know who to properly blame.
A decade ago, back when hockey blogs where a new and curious thing, I was a reader and commenter on a number of sites, though that number really could be counted on two hands. Basically, the sites on my regular reading list back then were Kukla's Korner, James Mirtle, Tom Benjamin, and a half dozen Oilers blogs -- Covered in Oil, Irreverent Oil Fans, Black Dog Hates Skunks, LoweTide, mc79hockey, and of course one of the best blog ideas invented, Battle of Alberta.
BoA in those days featured Matt Fenwick (Calgary) and Bob Sacamano (Edmonton) as dueling co-authors providing their fan-perspective takes on their teams -- not only would that be the multi-rival model this site would steal from, but these guys did it probably more excellently than we ever would. I was a huge fan and loved reading it, but it wasn't me that ended up copying their site.
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In the spring of 2006, the 8th seeded Edmonton Oilers faced off in the first round against the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings. Simultaneously, the 3rd seeded Calgary Flames were playing the 6th seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. It was a wacky west back then, first salary cap year out of the lockout -- crazily, the bottom four seeds ended up taking out the top four seeds. But as part of those outcomes, it turns out the Mighty Ducks winning a game seven in Calgary prevented a round two Battle of Alberta matchup from occurring. The BoA blog had its dream playoff series in sight, but a silly team in Anaheim with a sillier goalie named Bryzgalov derailed it from coming true.
In that second round, the San Jose Sharks became the top remaining seed, drawing the Oilers, while the Mighty Ducks drew the Avalanche. Both the Sharks and Ducks had home ice, and it looked like what nearly was a second round Battle of Alberta might become a WCF Battle of California.
So in stepped James Mirtle, who as a joke crafted this copycat blog as a joke to leave in the BoA comments. He opened with the line that would doom us all: "If this site ain't karma destruction, I don't know what is." May 9, 2006. A goddamn decade ago!
And in the short term it did work. Those upstart Oilers, powered by a monster defenseman named Chris Pronger, ended up besting the Sharks and the Ducks that spring. I wrote about it as a very new blogger on a very new site, along with PJ Swenson and Mike Chen for the Sharks.
But while that spring the California teams met their demise, somehow this Mirtle joke didn't die with it. Different writers had their stints, and eventually we evolved into our own three-headed monster.
I guess it's fitting. A Canadian writer copies a Canadian blog with a California theme, and ten years and three California Stanley Cups later, 100% of California teams make the playoffs while 0% of Canadian teams do.
And it's all your fault, Mirtle. :)
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I didn't draw anything new for this event, but here's some old blog birthday toons, back when I was less retired.
When the blog turned two (and when James O'Brien was for some reason writing about the Stars), I drew this:
Characters grew up awfully fast when the blog turned three:
I went a bit comic-booky when the blog turned four:
And here's five, but it seems to have fallen off after that:
Happy fucking birthday, blog, and another round of thanks to all that contributed (and contribute) to it -- guess that last part is just for shampeon these days. :)