It's that time of year again. No, not for college and pro football players to get arrested in droves after opening night, but you're getting warm. We're officially a month away from hockey season, and that means it's time to start up, or think about thinking about starting up, a fantasy hockey league.
For most people, this wouldn't even be a thought in the deepest, darkest parts of their mind. But you, you're different. You read mediocre hockey blogs in August. You check your calendar daily to see how many days are left until training camp starts. You take joy in the fact that one of your arch rivals will no longer be getting 'any' from Elisha Cuthbert. And of course, you're still wondering why in the hell Tampa Bay is going to pay Marc Denis $2.8 million this year to sit on their bench for at least 41 games.
If you've done any of these things or pondered any of these questions recently, then this post is for you. This is for the people. You know who you are. You're the ones who don't care about baseball, aren't overly excited by the start of football season, don't realize basketball is a professional sport, and live in parts of the continent where ESPN shoves NASCAR and Arena Football down your throat constantly. For you, the people, I give you BMR's Handy Pocket Guide to Fantasy Hockey.
Do not use ESPN fantasy games to host your league. Not only do I have a sneaking suspicion that ESPN might continue it's campaign to rid the world of the NHL by 'accidentally' forgetting to even host an NHL fantasy website this year, they'll probably just start everything over a couple weeks into the season, anyway. Hey, I'm just saying.
Do not pay extra for StatTracker® if you're using Yahoo! Yes, it only costs $9.99 for the entire season. But is it really that hard for you to either; A) wait until the system automatically updates nightly at 4 AM EST or B) just check a God damn box score, which just so happens to be updated by Yahoo! on their website in real time?
Your league name won't be any good, no matter how hard you try. Might as well just name it Ted's WalMart Employee Fantasy League or something generic like that. Not only does it save you the trouble of looking like an idiot when you try to whip out some gangsta slang and totally screw it up, but this way you'll be able to tell the difference between the five leagues you're in that all have the same name. Now, they won't all be named some variation of the Bay City Ballas Mad Fly Hockey Shizzle Dizzle League. Honestly, you should just name your league Poop. Naming your league after fecal matter is way more original than anything else that you're going to come up with.
Rotisserie scoring leagues don't hold a candle to head-to-head leagues. That brings me to my next point, when given the option, always choose a head-to-head style league over rotisserie scoring. Not only is head-to-head much easier to spell, but there's nothing better than the trash talking that is birthed from a head-to-head league. Under rotisserie rules, only the winner gets to talk trash at the end of the year. When you have a head-to-head match up against a different opponent each week with the chance for a rematch later in the season, and playoffs, that's almost more trash talking and bragging rights than you'll know what to do with. It will be amazing, I promise. After all, without trash talking and bragging rights, there wouldn't be fantasy sports at all.
Always invite the guy who should be in gamblers anonymous, but isn't. The best part about playing fantasy sports for money is that when you need to fill those last couple of spots in the league, everyone has a friend (or two) that is a compulsive gambler. Not only will it be fun to watch them crumble when their team goes into the shitter before the All-Star break, but it's extra money for everyone else to win!
Convince your friends/family/coworkers that fantasy hockey is, actually, fun. This is the most important part of creating a fantasy hockey league. Unless you live in Canada or a select number of cold weathered American cities, you probably don't know too many people who like hockey. Even if you do know a lot of hockey fans, chances are most of them won't be crazy enough to join a fantasy hockey league with you and pay to do so. This is where your skills as a used car salesman come in (you do have those, right?). You've got to sell other people on joining your league, and you've only got a month left to do it.
For co-workers, the best angle would obviously be to explain to them just how much time can be wasted at work thanks to their involvement in a fantasy sports league. Chances are that any employee worth their weight in slacking ability knows this already, and will be quick to sign up.
When it comes to friends, playing the guilt card is a sure bet. Remind them how little you see them as it is because you work such long hours, or are always at school/doing homework. For the guys out there, just remind those friends in a relationship how whipped they are by their girl, and watch how fast they give in. It's fun! As for the rest, seeing as you're already friends, they'll probably cave easily as well and coincidentally forget to check their team regularly once the season begins. That's because they really couldn't give a rat's ass about any of it in the first place. No worries, you've got their money and they'll probably be an easy beat thanks to a bad draft and unkempt roster.
If none of these attempts succeed in filling up all the spots in your league, then you might have to resort to, you know, talking to your family. Seeing as you're reading this blog and have read almost the entirety of this long winded post, that leads me to believe that you don't have much of a family life, either. This assignment is on your own, class. Good luck!
Schedule the league's live draft at a time when only you can attend. If you know your league is going to be a sham anyway, since the only people that you could get to join were a bunch of friends and co-workers who have never heard of Alex Ovechkin, don't worry. Make sure to schedule your live draft at a time when you'll likely be the only person who cares enough to show up. This actually happened in one of my leagues on Yahoo! last year. One friend was the only person who showed up to the live draft online, and he ended up coming away with Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin and Selanne. Needless to say, he won.
Don't try to be a smart ass when naming your team. Please, spare us the trouble of trying to understand the joke in your team name. Chances are, you only get about 25 characters to use in naming your team, and that won't be nearly enough room to explain that really funny line Keanu Reeves said in The Replacements that you can't believe everyone doesn't know and think is completely hilarious. Just do everyone a favor and name your team something like Average Joe's or Skillz That Killz and be done with it. We'll all get the Dodgeball movie reference and wonder how you ever came up with applying it to a fantasy hockey team. You're so witty and amazing. I wish I could be just like you.
Previous Handy Pocket Guides on BMR
A Handy Guide for Beginners: Hockey Blogging (8/13)