Between this season's playoff quarter finals and the playoff finals weekend, after much deliberation, we announced through the Frozen Steel MNL account on Twitter that the 2017/18 EIHL season would be the last for Frozen Steel in its entirety. We would like to take this opportunity to fully explain, as promised, why we have come to this very difficult decision. There will be three parts to this statement
1. Explaining the reasons for the closure of Frozen Steel Blog.
2. Explaining in further detail why Alan will cease to provide his own MNL service.
3. The "next generation" of Steelers bloggers and where you can find them.
Grab a cuppa folks, this WILL be a long read.
During the course of this season, we had found it increasingly difficult to find the appropriate time to regularly produce and release our articles for you to read on the blog, produce a podcast for you to listen to each week and also were unable to give a newly formed junior section the appropriate push it deserved.
A lot of this has been down to Alan having to spend and focus a serious amount of his time on his work and his business, having hit financial troubles with it early in the season. Due to having to then recover the business, he has since sacrificed, and continues to sacrifice, a lot of time away from home, which is the main reason for there being no podcasts in several months. We looked at trying to record podcasts through different means, but due to technical difficulties, it proved too difficult to try and get around. He had also hoped to create and promote a new junior section for the blog, to help find the next generation of bloggers in the Steelers fan base, having agreed to merge with the Steel The Puck blog and take them under our wing. Again, due to his work and his business, he was unable to focus the appropriate amount of time towards helping George grow the junior section after its creation.
Further to this, soon after the turn of the year, Mark was finding it increasingly difficult to find the spare time required to keep editing, producing and releasing the various articles for you to read on the blog itself. He also had other things to focus on in his life, such as his football media commitments and his better half. He eventually came to a decision in mid-March that he would be looking to step down from the blog and look to utilise his free time elsewhere.
We decided that before making a final decision on the fate of Frozen Steel, we would sit down and discuss at length any possible further alternatives to keep the blog running. In the end, we concluded that it would simply be far too time consuming, even to spread the workload even more, and thus decided that this season would be the last.
Since the initial announcement that Frozen Steel would be fully closing, a lot of people were upset to see that our MNL Twitter account particularly would be closing, and not just be renamed as something else and the service continue to be provided. There were also a few comments with regards to our Breaking The Ice podcast that we provided. To explain that decision further, Alan had the following to say on the two matters.
"Four years ago, I decided to create the MNL Twitter account as a little bit of a project, something different for me to do on a match night, to add a new dimension if you will to my hockey night experience. Back then, I felt that the club wasn't as good as it could have been in keeping the fans regularly up to date on what was happening during the games, both Steelers fans not at the game and the visiting teams’ fans as well. We were starting to see an increase in the following on the blog, so I simply thought, why not?
Not long after that, things just blew up. The account took off and I was able to enjoy my hockey nights even more because of people being thankful that I was able to keep them informed of what was going on. In turn, it also helped grow the blog itself furthermore. More followers, more articles and then eventually the podcast, something I will address shortly.
However, I also knew that at some point the club would start to improve its official match night updates. Over the course of the 2017/18 season, plus towards the very back end of the 2016/17 season, I have been incredibly fortunate enough to be able to help the club directly in keeping the fans informed on its official account, on odd occasions. That has been something that I have taken great pride in being able to do with the trust of the club. I have David Simms to thank personally for that, having first asked me to help him out as an emergency for an away game in Nottingham. We also owe him a huge thank you for allowing us to promote the podcast we were producing through the club’s Twitter account as well.
One thing I would like to make clear however is this. Despite me deciding to shut down my own update service, either as Frozen Steel MNL or under another name, I will gladly continue to assist the club directly in keeping fans up to date on away games, on the clubs official account, whenever they need me to fill in for them if I am able to be there myself. I have always said that between the MNL account and the official account that we would always find a way to have you covered. Going forward, I hope that we can continue to do that with me helping the club directly from now on, should they require my assistance at any time.
With regards to the podcast, due to my work and business having to take a huge priority, the podcast took quite a shelving and had a very abrupt finish. A podcast however, MAY still feature next season, but that is something I will look at further down the line, even if it only ends up being a monthly thing. Other clubs have podcasts about it, and our club certainly should have one as well, so that is something I'll look into again during the summer."
Going forward, we are pleased to say that there IS a new generation of bloggers out there starting to regularly cover things to do with our club. With the decision to close Frozen Steel fully, George has decided that he would bring back his Steel The Puck blog. He has since reversed the name change to Frozen Steel Jr, and Steel The Puck is now back on Twitter. You can find it at @steelthepuck so make sure you go and follow it.
Also, when we created the junior section, part of the original team brought in was Amy-Leigh. However, after a slow start to getting articles put online, she decided she would go it alone and start to produce her own blog and articles. We are pleased to say that over the season, her work has improved greatly and now becomes an enjoyable read, with one or two pieces in our minds being quite exceptional, not just for someone her age either. She has also been able to get interviews directly with players as well as a couple of other surprising features. You can find her blog at @ice_the_puck on Twitter.
Furthermore, you can find the direct links for the blogs are www.steelthepuck.wordpress.com and www.icethepuck.wordpress.com Please, please, PLEASE give these two young fans the follows and support that they deserve.
In closing this statement, there are a few thank yous that should be made:
Firstly, thank you to Liam McCausland, for being one that created Frozen Steel in the first place and asking for Alan and Tom to assist him after its creation. Whilst things ended pretty badly between the three of them, we must respect, as we always have, that without Liam’s initial idea, none of us would be here doing this for the length of time that we have.
Secondly, thank you to Tom Walkeden, for his time with the blog until he decided he needed to focus on more important issues. We will always be here for Tom, through thick and thin. You will always be a part of the Frozen Steel team.
Thirdly, thank you to Tony, for his time in assisting us (particularly Mark) in collaborating our Soapbox and also filling in when others were on holiday, in making sure that articles still got produced and released.
Fourthly, thank you to everyone that has been a part of the Soapbox, for being part of our most popular articles ever produced on the blog. Having the wide range of opinions over the years has made for terrific reading and has been a huge part of the blogs success.
Fifthly, thank you to David Simms and the Sheffield Steelers, for allowing us to have the opportunity and time to work with you all more directly, especially in the last two seasons. It has been a pleasure to have built a more direct working relationship with you all and we hope that is something we can continue to develop going forward, despite the closure of Frozen Steel. If you ever need a favour or a helping hand with something that needs producing, please, just ask us.\par
Sixthly, thank you to Richard Renshaw, for helping us design and create near enough all of our headers, footers and the like, for the blog and Twitter accounts. His work helped add a more professional look to everything we did.\par
Seventhly, thank you to our fellow bloggers and podcasters from around the league, for your initial advice, continued support and equally your continued promotion. We truly have been one big family around the league and getting to know you, and work with you, has been a blast every step of the way.\par
Lastly, and most importantly, thank you to ALL OF YOU. Whether you have only ever read one article or read them all, listened to a few podcasts or none at all, your support, feedback, discussions, debates, advice, EVERYTHING, over the years has helped us improve what we did and also helped some of us grow as people as well. We will be eternally grateful for all that you have given us.\par
We do ask one final favour of you though. Take care of each other, look out for one another, support our fellow bloggers and podcasters, but most importantly this...
"Stop making us listen to Sweet bloody Caroline!"
With our heartfelt thanks and our best wishes for the future,
Alan, Mark and Fergus