Happy Trails

All great things must come to an end.

No, this isn’t the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but rather a small note from me to you.

After five years of covering the Nashville Predators on a day-to-day basis – from my small beginnings of starting my own blog, to my venture with FOX Sports and finishing off with the fine folks here at SB Nation – I’ll be stepping away from writing and altering my focus. I’ll stay on with OTF, but more in an editing role – something I’ve taken a liking to over the past few months.

In the past couple of months, my world has had its axis tilted.

My wife and I are currently expecting our fourth child. Yes, you read correctly. I have three children already and a fourth is on the way. We are beyond excited for another little bundle of joy. My son and two daughters are just as excited, more than welcome to add either a new brother or sister to their ranks.

That, among other things, has made me take a step back – asking myself if it was time to shift my perspectives elsewhere.

With all that’s going on in my life right now, I haven’t remotely been able to provide you the great coverage I’ve prided myself on and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to again. In the end, though, you’re going to be in great hands with the staff of writers here at OTF that will be covering the team as you’ve already been used to.

I’d like to start out and thank the Predators organization as a whole. General Manager David Poile, former head coach Barry Trotz, current head coach Peter Laviolette, Brandon Walker, all the coaching staff, trainers and the rest of hockey operations who have been wonderful to deal with on a normal basis.

CEO and President, or "Predsident" if you will (and his Twitter handle), Sean Henry has gone above and beyond to help me anytime I’ve ever reached out to him.

Gerry Helper and the entire communications team (current and former, including the wonderful interns as well) with the Preds have been just as fantastic to work with in my time.

To the entire FOX Sports Tennessee broadcast crew: Bob Kohl, David White, Brett Newkirk, Pete Weber, Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson, Mark Howard, Lyndsay Rowley and the ever-wonderful Terry Crisp. And a very special thank you to Cory McCartney, who spotted me out of a crowd of sportswriters and gave me a chance with FOX that I’ll eternally be grateful for.

To former Predators beat writer, and now editor at Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, Josh Cooper. Josh and I shared a flight back to Nashville after, if I recall correctly, the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark. Coop and I talked the entire two-hour flight back to Nashville. I’m glad to call him a friend and he’s an even better writer.

To all current and former members of the Nashville Predators blogging community. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s been plenty of times where I felt like the odd-man out in the community, sometimes just begging to be noticed, but hard work and perseverance undoubtedly pay off. I’ve made countless friends among the crew, most who have gone on to bigger and better things where we all started out with only one thing in common – trusting one another to push each peer to rise to the next level.

To Brian Campbell, Ron Zolkower, former pre-game video guru Chris Smith and the rest of the game-ops crew: you all did, and continue to do, utterly fantastic work night in and night out. It doesn’t go unnoticed and you’ve always been more than happy to listen to my bozo suggestions from time to time.

To the countless number of people who have read my work and listened to my podcast, radio spots or watched me on television over the years: I can’t begin to thank you enough. You pushed me through some of the toughest times in my writing career, times where I was ready to give it up entirely. Your comments and feedback helped shape me into a better writer.

(If I’ve forgotten anyone, understand I haven’t done it on purpose. There are so many people in the hockey community I have to be thankful for. It’s tough and I’m sure I’ll forget someone so I apologize.)

Before I end, I want to take a minute to provide just a couple of tips for young and upcoming writers. If you’re looking to break into the sports-writing business, here’s the two most important things I can stress to you: be patient and work your ass off. Someone will eventually notice, maybe more than one someone.

Always strive to be better. Always go the extra mile. Learn from your mistakes (because you’re going to make plenty of them). And never hesitate to ask for help. Help will always come to those that are willing to ask for it.

As I said, I’m not going too far. I’ll just be more behind-the-scenes with OTF. You’ll always be able to reach me on Twitter (@kmartel_sports) and my email is easily accessible in my profile.

Each and every one of you reading this turned me into to the writer I always wanted to become.

My deepest thanks and love,

Kristopher Martel