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TheFeeder turns 10
Time flys when you're having fun!
2/1/07 - By Mike Lee is 10 years old! What started out as a fan protest, TheFeeder has served the Bay Area hockey community with news & commentary on the San Jose Sharks for a full decade. Please join us in celebrating our birthday!

For those that aren't familiar with our history, the story goes something like this. I was attending an adult hockey tournament in Las Vegas back in 1997 with my team the Silicon Valley Ravens. Me and three teammates were driving to the Strip from the Santa Fe Hotel where the tournament was being held after one of our games, when a conversation struck up on the state of the Sharks.

Three of the four guys in the car (myself included) were Sharks season ticket holders from day one and the conversation turned into a frenzied bashing of the under achieving team. San Jose had come off of a playoff appearance in 1995, but followed that up with a 13th place finish in the West in 96-96 and were well on their way to another abysmal season in 96-97.

I had been dabbling with web site development and mentioned the idea of creating an online protest in the form of a website. The other three guys, Scott Boccia, Steve Carter and James Donald all agreed that the idea was a good one. I said I was tired of watching these underachieving "bottom feeders" and the branding light bulb lit up like a roman candle.

Scott decided to get involved for about a week, but he would lose interest after he figured out that it was more fun to bitch n' moan than to bitch n' moan n' produce a website. I didn't advertise his departure from the enterprise, because I wanted people to think that it was a team effort. I felt that a one-man operation would have been perceived as something that wouldn't last.

The "we" that I continue to use to this day has essentially been "me" since day one. The "we" eventually evolved in the form of content contributors and forum moderators throughout the years.

So I took the reigns after that first week and ran with it. The early days were more parody than team coverage. Then Sharks General Manager Dean Lombardi was an easy target for me.

I also took shots at the team owners George and Gordon Gund. In one article I suggested a video diversion during games. Instead of trying to figure out which hat a puck was hiding under, fans would try and keep their eye on wads of cash being transferred into the Gund's bank account.

The site hit the big time when it was featured in David Pollak's "Fan in the Stands" column in the SJ Mercury News on March 26th, 1997. I got an idea in that first year to name a "Hoser of the Week", awarded to a hockey figure that behaved in some asinine manner that week. The image that accompanied that section of the site was a picture of a jackass that adorns the site to this day. The segment hasn't been updated in a few years, mainly because it takes too much time to find jokers to fill the segment.

Back in 1999 I was approached by an internet venture called, whose business model would allow sports website publishers like myself to have our sites hosted by a network that provided tech support and unlimited bandwidth. In return the sites that made up the network would present advertising that was sold and served by Rivals. 2000 rolled around and the implosion sank Rivals faster than the Sharks in the 96 standings.

Back in '99, I extended an olive branch to the Sharks and decided to take the site more mainstream. When the site was with Rivals, I met a publisher named Dan David, who had served as a hockey writer for sites like the Hockey News and CNN/SI. Dan encouraged me to take a journalistic approach to the way we covered the Sharks in order to grow the sites credibility.

After making the change, a broader relationship with the Sharks Media Relations folks blossomed. The old adage of a "spoonful of sugar" couldn't have been more true. It was then I decided to re-brand the site from "The Bottom Feeder" to simply "TheFeeder". I didn't want to completely abandon the sites heritage, but I also needed something that was going to convey a less abrasive tone.

After Rivals folded, I was left to find a new host, but web hosting wasn't cheap. I sent out a broadcast in the final month of Rivals operation that I was looking for a new host, and Solisys, a web service provider in Davis, California, stepped up and offered hosting to us. We've been with them ever since.

One major mistake I made in the early days of the site was not establishing a message board system. As a result, die hard Sharks fans gravitated to the Sharks official website and a few other boards that were floating around. I implemented message board software shortly after joining Solisys, but it's taken years to build the numbers that I had hoped to see back in the 90's.

Today, the message boards are 800+ strong, which isn't a huge number, but another the reason it hasn't grown as fast as I had hoped was because I made the decision to review each registration manually. Today, I email all new registrants and ask them a hockey question before granting them access. One thing I did do right was take more caution in allowing hockey fans in and keeping the riff raff out. Well, most of the riff raff!

As we move into our second decade on the internet, our direction has been more focused on building the community that has thrived on the message boards. We're still looking for great writers to join the party and we'll continue to recap games as we have for the last 10 years, but making the site a place where people want to hang out and talk about the Sharks (both good and bad) is a bigger part of what the site is all about.

So, to all of you who have spent time with us in the past, I say thank you. If we didn't have anyone visiting the site, then there wouldn't be any reason to produce it. I look forward to the day when we can celebrate a Stanley Cup together.

Mike Lee

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