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The Next Play...

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Farewell, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

New York Rangers v Ottawa Senators - Game Five

When I played football, a common refrain was repeated to me ad nauseam by coaches, and teammates alike: “next play”. It means no matter what happens — whether you make a big play or a big mistake — focus on the next play. Stay in the moment, don’t get too high or too low, and make the next play.

It’s time for me to do just that.

After three wonderful, enlightening, and fulfilling years, the time has come for me to step away from Silver Seven. My entire life has been defined by a love of sports, and despite a lot of different ideas floating around my brain, I always knew that I wanted sports to be an integral part of how I make my living. It’s a belief that was solidified by how much I loved my work here, and now I get to take the amazing first step on this journey.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be joining up with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) as a communications specialist, working mainly in a media capacity with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s. To be frank, it’s a dream job, and I can’t wait to make the move down to Ottawa in a couple of weeks and get started.

This is the 346th article I’ve written for Silver Seven.

That’s a crazy number, when you really start to think about it. I was brought aboard in the summer of 2018, an absolutely wonderful time to be covering the Ottawa Senators, as you’ll recall. My first post was published on June 19th, 2018, and it was a positive little number about keeping the faith through the bad times. Something that unfortunately became even more relevant over the past 17 months, or so.

It’s been a whirlwind since then, but a couple of pieces stand out. I wrote scathing indictments of the Senators amid the summer of Erik Karlsson and after the Mark Stone trade, both of which could have been more reserved, in hindsight.

It doesn’t take long to figure out which ones I’m most proud of, though. Mark Borowiecki and Justin Morissette trusting me with the deeply personal story of their unlikely friendship, and the late Brian Fraser opening up to me about his love of sports in the worst days of his illness. Those are the ones that I’ll always look back on, no matter where life takes me, and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to tell those stories to all of you. Writers don’t make great stories, great people do.

As I embark on this exciting next chapter of my life, there are countless people to whom I need to express my profound thanks. My family and friends, of course, the light of my life who have had my back through thick and thin.

Chris Hofley, OSEG’s manager of communications, for taking a chance on a kid from Sudbury with ambitions bigger than he has any right to have.

The Athletic’s Ian Mendes for being a mentor, and a friend, who never hesitated to go to bat for a guy whom he hasn’t even met in person (yet, beers are on me).

The amazing team here at Silver Seven; nkb, Ross Arnold, Brad, Ary, Nada, Spencer Blake, Beata, Shaan Malik, Owen, Trevor Shackles, and Colin Cudmore. They have made me a better writer, and a better person through their tireless support, patience, and friendship. Whoever fills my spot could not be joining a finer group of people.

But the folks deserving of the most thanks are all of you. The simple fact of the matter is that, as a kid born and raised in Sudbury, and who’s lived in Toronto for the past four years, you are the only reason that anyone in Ottawa pays two seconds worth of attention to what I have to say. This so-called platform of mine was built entirely through your patronage, readership, and kindness. For that, you have my deepest gratitude.

Despite never living there, Ottawa has always felt like home to me. Thanks to you, now it is.

I’m sad to be leaving such an amazing team, with such a terrific reader base, but I am absolutely giddy about the prospect of working in Ottawa, and humbled by the opportunity to work for OSEG, and share in their passion for sports in the nation’s capital. It’s the chance of a lifetime.

So this, friends, is my heartfelt farewell to all of you. Thank you again for giving a voice to a Nickel City son with stars in his eyes, and a deep love for the Ottawa Senators in his heart. This has been a dream come true for me, and I will never forget my time here.

I’m sure I’ll be around, periodically. You might find me in a comments section, or maybe even writing the odd guest piece, but until then, be well. Stay safe, and be sure to stick around this incredible site, run by my incredible friends. I’ve often said that I’d put our work up against anyone’s — professional or otherwise — and that remains true even in my absence.

If you happen to see me trying to find my way around Ottawa, or grabbing a beer at some fine local establishment, make sure to come say hi. Otherwise, I’m sure we’ll see each other around the rink.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite lyrics from a guy named Andrew Hyatt, another good Sudbury boy.

For me it ain’t the finish line, it’s all about the race.

With all my love and deepest gratitude,

Brandon Maki