But I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect on RMNB’s past year. Two and a half million people visited our hockey site during the calendar year, registering 12 million pageviews. We exclusively released Alex Ovechkin’s Papa John’s commercial, raising a good deal of cash in the process for Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. And through our first ever hockey tournament, RMNB raised nearly $9,000 to get Caps fan Ryan Ellis into the XFINITY race at Dover. RMNB was the primary sponsor of a NASCAR. This is crazy stuff I could have never dreamed of accomplishing as a kid.
RMNB also threw parties. We redesigned RMNB and our merch store, making both responsive. (That was important because 61% of our traffic is now mobile.) We recommitted ourselves to our Instagram page, adding nearly 10 thousand users over the past year. Our Twitter account is now approaching 30 thousand followers and our Facebook page has 26 thousand.
I figured the best way to say thank you is to let you inside the hood of the site. Here are our 16 most-read articles of the year.
During the second round of the 2016 playoffs, the Capitals ran into their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite the two team’s bad blood, Braden Holtby reached across the aisle and showed why he’s one of the good guys in this league.
Holtby gave his stick to Brian Azinheira, a 11-year-old Penguins fan battling cancer.
“It’s what we play the game for is to create positive influences on people,” Holtby said. “The Penguins are doing a great thing having him as their guest and luckily we got to share a little part of that and hopefully make his day a little better.”
Judging by Azinheira’s reaction, Holtby did that and then some.
Our fifteenth most read article features one of our readers’ least-favorite/most-passionate subjects: Sidney Crosby. Sid got slashed in the arm by Alex Ovechkin. Injured, Crosby left the game and let’s just say he was not happy about that.
In late November, Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz took a puck to the head during the first minute of the Caps’ game against the Leafs. Instead of leaving to get tended to in the locker room, Trotz remained on the bench. Trotz went viral a week later after getting compared and contrasted to a soccer coach. Yes, Barry Trotz got the Ozzy Man treatment. What a world.
Our lucky number 13 story is actually an article I wrote on Saturday. In an incredible gesture by the Carolina Hurricanes, the team signed their equipment manager Jorge Alves to a one-day deal and let the goaltender finish the final 8 seconds of the game – a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The gesture made the beloved member of the organization cry after the game. So many feels.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 500th goal last season, but it was our post detailing why Mama Ovechkina and Papa Ovechkin sit apart that captured our audience’s curiosity.
Brooks Laich was traded during the past year to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he will forever be a Capital. How do I know that? Because he’s featured twice in our top 16 list for 2016. Laich’s first jaunt through our most-read posts is an exclusive we were forwarded by reader Saam. Laich and his fiancee Julianne Hough left a $100 tip to their seven-month pregnant waitress after the couple ate at Don Tito. While Laich may have “gone Hollywood,” he remained the same humble, hard-working Canadian we fell in love with in Washington.
In mid-December, former Caps prospect and current Dallas Star Cody Eakin was ejected from a game after destroying Henrik Lundqvist behind the net. The GIFs make this look more like a demolition derby than a hockey game. Eakin was later suspended four games for the charge.
After Game One of the Capitals-Penguins series, several Caps fans went viral for all the wrong reasons: they used homophobic language towards Penguins fans. Peter wrote a poignant and nuanced piece about sports fandom and why we all need to be accepting of everyone. The piece generated a ton of conversation and my main takeaway was this: think before you speak and don’t be a jerk.
Brooks Laich’s second visit to our most-read posts was actually the beginning of his end in Washington. The Caps put Laich on waivers to free some cap space ahead of the trade deadline. Instead of sending him to the minors, the Caps traded Laich and Connor Carrick to Toronto for Daniel Winnik.
During the first round of the playoffs, Dmitry Orlov got boarded (and somehow not-paralzyed) by Pierre-Édouard Bellemare in a blowout win for the Caps. The hit was terrible, but it was what Flyers fans did afterwards which made this truly awful: they threw bracelets at Orlov. One even struck Orlov in the side of the face.
The light up, plastic bracelets were given away before the game to honor the team’s owner, Ed Snider, who had recently passed.
Former Capitals starter, Michal Neuvirth, replaced Steve Mason in net as the Caps looked to sweep the Flyers in four games. Neuvy then became a God, becoming practically unbeatable in net. After the Caps squeaked won the series in Game Six, Braden Holtby had many nice things to say about his former teammate, including a memorable embrace in the handshake line.
Neuvirth stopped 103 of 105 shots during his improbable appearance in the series.
WUSA 9’s Ellison Barber got the exclusive of the year, while interviewing people at a gas station during the 2016 DC blizzard. As she approached two people by a Mercedes-Benz SUV, she ran into Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who did the interview. Ellison later told us about the experience and take glamour shots in front of the gas pump where the interview happened. She’s literally the best and you should definitely watch her on TV.
Our fourth most-read post features some hockey violence against Sidney Crosby. After Braden Holtby got speared, a melee ensued between the Caps and Penguins. Crosby punched TJ Oshie and then realized why that was a bad idea.
Lauren Oshie threw a surprise birthday party for her husband TJ after the Caps 4-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 23. All of the Caps were in attendance and wore Dirty 30 t-shirts. The tees included an illustration of Oshie’s face.
Our first Not Hockey entrant comes at number two, and it celebrates our Maryland heritage. Baltimore native Michael Phelps, the most winningest Olympic champion of all-time, won five gold medals and one silver at his final Summer Games appearance at Rio de Janeiro. After winning his 20th Olympic gold medal, Phelps’ friends yelled “O” during the national anthem, causing Phelps to laugh on the medal stand.
The most read RMNB post of 2016 is also RMNB’s most read article OF ALL TIME.
Our Chelyabinsk meteor story has finally been outdone.
The article detailed all the boorish behavior Flyers fans exhibited during Game Three of the playoffs, including throwing bracelets, giving the finger to players, screaming expletives during the moment of silence for Ed Snider, throwing beer, being creepy behind Braden Holtby, and so on.
The post got over 53,000 shares on Facebook. And the funny part was, I debated with Peter if it was even worth writing, just like I debated with him three years earlier about the meteor post. It’s good we have each other as business partners.
We also had several amazing stories finish just outside the top 16 including Dmitry Orlov’s mondo hit, the NHL’s concern over Ovi’s tinted visor, and the surprise Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby got for a family who named their child after them.
Thank you to all of you who made 2016 such a wonderful year. We hope we can do even better in 2017.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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