Farewell, and thank you

The most gratifying part about the past three years, from my perspective, has been the sense of community that has been built here. While we don’t always see eye to eye, we’re all motivated by a love for hockey and a desire to exchange information and opinions about the Kings. Even during the challenging times, I have immensely enjoyed being part of this online melting pot with you, which makes it tough to announce that this will be my last week with the Kings. I have decided that the timing and situation is right for me to move on, and I’m excited about the job opportunity I have in front of me. The decision is mine, and the Kings in no way pushed or encouraged me to leave. I faced no threat of layoff or of any financial cutback. It’s my choice, for a number of reasons, and I’m grateful that my parting with the Kings is amicable and that I will leave on good terms, both personally and professionally, with everyone involved.

I’ll let the Kings speak to their specific future plans, but I have offered to assist them in the transition in any way they see fit. Three years ago, I entered into a unique partnership with the organization, and I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished. I’m confident that the Kings see the value in what we accomplished and that they will maintain comprehensive coverage here. As I have consistently said, the success of this blog is not about me as an individual, so I have no doubts that it can, and will, be just fine without me. My primary wish is that the future inhabitant will seek to maintain the same standards and strive for the same goals that were put in place three years ago.

It’s impossible to thank everyone, but I’ll do my best. Folks on the business side of the organization, such as Tim Leiweke, Luc Robitaille, Chris McGowan and Mike Altieri, put themselves in a delicate position by hiring me, but at every turn, they gave me the resources and freedom to do my job the way I felt was necessary. I can’t possibly pay them a higher compliment than that. In a similar vein, Dean Lombardi and his hockey-operations staff, the players, coaches, trainers, scouts and staff members all did exactly what I hoped they would: they treated me like anyone else. They didn’t always return calls and weren’t always forthcoming with information, and in a twisted way, I appreciated that. I never wanted to be handed anything based on who signed my paycheck. I’ve always said that hockey people are the best people in pro sports to deal with, and the past three years only reinforced that opinion. My best memories will always be of time spent on the road with Bob Miller, Jim Fox, Nick Nickson, Daryl Evans and the Fox TV crew. I don’t need to tell Kings fans how talented these men are, but you should know that they’re even better people. Dewayne Hankins, Aaron Brenner, the website and KingsVision folks provided endless hours of camaraderie and entertainment. I’ll be laughing at the inside jokes for years. My print and electronic colleagues accepted me as a peer, despite my unique job status, and I’m very grateful for their professionalism and friendship.

None of this would matter, of course, without readers. Many of you were there in 2007, when this whole thing was in an embryonic stage, and then took the leap of faith in 2009, when we moved the shop over here. The support has been overwhelming, humbling and more than I ever dreamed possible. It’s been such a kick to run into some of you in random situations — at a concert, at a Taco Bell on a Saturday night, at Starbucks at 8 a.m. on Christmas morning — and every time one of you says “thank you” for the coverage, I try to make it clear that I’m the one who should be thanking you. Your support allowed me to have a great job, to go to Europe, to see all corners of North America — I’ll forgive you for Detroit — and, of course, the chance to write about Juraj Mikus. On top of all that, if it turns out that the last hockey game I ever covered was one in which the Stanley Cup was awarded…that’s not a bad way to go out, is it?

So in that spirit, thanks. There’s nothing I can really say beyond thank you. It would be great to have one final “suite night” — this season, owners and players, this season — one in which I could actually hang out with everyone and have fun. I’m not sure if I’ll be posting anything more here in the next couple days, but regardless, if you see me around, don’t be a stranger…

Also, the Kings have issued the following statement, and Luc Robitaille and my pals Aaron and Rob from KingsVision had some fun with a couple videos that I really appreciate…

“The Los Angeles Kings would like to express our deepest gratitude and best wishes to Rich Hammond as he embarks on the next chapter in his professional life. Rich’s efforts as a partner in building a new platform for LAKings.com epitomized integrity, work ethic and vision, and at no time did he waver from his goals and commitment to his readership. To all the fans who frequent LAKingsinsider.com, we remain committed to providing you with an engaging editorial platform that lives up to its namesake in providing an inside look at the LA Kings. Please check back with us regularly as we will continue to manage this platform and deliver fresh content via our great team of content providers while we search for a new voice to replace Rich.”

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