| TheFeeder turns 10
Time flys when you're having fun!
- By Mike Lee
TheFeeder.com is 10 years old! What started
as a fan protest, TheFeeder has served the Bay Area hockey community with
& commentary on the San Jose Sharks for a full decade. Please join us
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
the Strip from the Santa Fe Hotel where the tournament was being held after
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
under achieving team. San Jose had come off of a playoff appearance in
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
one. I said I was tired of watching these underachieving "bottom feeders"
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
that a one-man operation would have been perceived as something that
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
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
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
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
accompanied that section of the site was a picture of a jackass that adorns
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 Rivals.com, whose
business model would allow sports website publishers like myself to have
sites hosted by a network that provided tech support and unlimited
In return the sites that made up the network would present advertising that
sold and served by Rivals. 2000 rolled around and the dot.com implosion
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
Dan David, who had served as a hockey writer for sites like the Hockey News
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
to simply "TheFeeder". I didn't want to completely abandon the sites
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
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
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.
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
the decision to review each registration manually. Today, I email all new
registrants and ask them a hockey question before granting them access.
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
recap games as we have for the last 10 years, but making the site a place
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
produce it. I look forward to the day when we can celebrate a Stanley Cup
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