Disclaimer: Read on if you want to indulge in a half-serious and slightly narcissistic (but likely relatable) tale of fantasy hockey tragedy. Should you be looking for useful fantasy advice, then try here instead.
By now you know that you’ve beaten me.
According to my eminently sensible wife though, I should be happy. Among the tens of thousands of players in the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey pool I was lucky enough to end up in fourth place overall. The problem is that I found myself holding down third place for most of the final week until you bumped me off the podium. And you did it not just on the final day of the regular season, but as a result of the very last game in the entire schedule.
While the writing was on the wall for my squad earlier in the day when Nicklas Backstrom went pointless, it wasn’t until Teemu Selanne potted his 27th goal of the year in the otherwise meaningless Anaheim/Edmonton matchup that you officially did me in. It’s entirely possible that you and I were the only two people interested in that otherwise meaningless contest. Although I do hear that Snoop Dog is quite the die-hard Duck fan (and for all I know, you could be Snoop Dog).
Sadly then, as a result of Selanne’s skill, the final leader board read thusly:
After 26 weeks and 260 individual player picks, I missed ranking as a prize winner by one puny point.
To be honest, I didn’t even want the booty. I hope you enjoy your new Sony PlayStation and one hundred bones at Boston Pizza. Like most poolies, I wanted the glory. Sweet, sweet glory.
I hesitate to even mention that I play in the Sportsnet pool at this esteemed website – it’s a bit like mentioning your love of comic books (er, “graphic novels”) at your Leo Tolstoy book club. I picture disapproving eyes peering over dark, leather-bound volumes as I describe the latest “totally awesome” plot twist in a favourite Batman book (no seriously guys, he *really* is dead this time…). However, I’ll attest that the format is fast-paced, cruel, and oddly addictive.
If you aren’t familiar with what Sportsnet bills as “Canada’s favourite hockey pool”, you are allotted a set number of points to draft a squad of any ten players (2C, 4W, 3D, 1G); all adjustable each week. Its scoring is uncomplicated: one point for a goal or an assist, two points for a goalie win, and four for a shut-out.
Obviously, fortune plays a great role in attempting to predict scoring at the individual level over such short periods of time, and this is why I imagine more discerning poolies might skip such a junk-food delicacy. But I assure you, it can provide some soaring highs (like when you select Tom Gilbert for the week and he brings home an unbelievable eight points for you), but likewise, it can also issue some spirit-crushing lows (why, why did you have to get injured Nicklas?). Fortune is fickle.
If you are going to play, I can’t stress enough the importance of consulting Marcus Schalle’s uber-useful column, Looking Ahead with Crazynuck, posted each week right here at DobberHocky. Invaluable.
As for me, I play with the lads from work and it’s a good morale builder – accessible for the newbies yet still challenging for the veterans. But as the season pulled into its endgame I found myself bouncing around the nation’s top-ten, and I got stars in my eyes.
Honey, have I mentioned that I’m third…in the country? This totally makes up for my receding hairline! Needless to say at this point, my wife puts up with a lot.
I began the week in seventh place, miraculously peeked at third, and well, you know the rest. Most humiliating of all, I even attempted to brush up on my grade-three math skills in preparation for the “time-limited, mathematically skill testing question” required to be correctly answered by all prize claimants (sadly, you can’t make this stuff up folks). My wife thought all of this was very amusing – in pathetic sort of way – as I gleefully strutted around verbalizing my long unused BEDMAS skills. Hubris is an ugly, ridiculous thing my friends.
I’ll probably never know who you are, speciald. My ego wonders if it’s possible that you’re Scotty Bowman indulging in a secret pastime. Or maybe Ken Holland. Or maybe you really are Snoop Dog, and you knew that Orange County’s favourite Finn had just enough left in him. You’ll be happy to know that I ignored my wife when she suggested that you are more likely a teenager from Kamloops, or a retired public-school librarian from Kapuskasing. In any event, you’re obviously a poolie evil-genius of high order.
But in truth, I’ve got to thank you. Because of our last minute scuffle I thoroughly enjoyed the final week of the regular season, when all my other pools had been rendered meaningless affairs. And it’s that internal fire, that need to compete and win that vindicates our otherwise peculiar and vicarious activity of placing our faith (and sometimes a nickel or two) in professional athletes who would likely think our struggles mundane. That glorious feeling of meaningful competition makes all the number-crunching, theorizing, and hoping worthwhile. It makes it fun.
So I doff my cap to you speciald. Well played, sir (ma’am?). But I’ll remember your handle…and I’ll be gunning for you next year.
It’s what we hockey poolies do.