Fantasy Hockey

Fantasy hockey emerged shortly after fantasy basketball but without the luster.

Nonetheless, fantasy hockey has a loyal base and there are very good reasons why new players would be interested in joining a league. Thus, with the opening of the 2010-2011 NHL Hockey season upon us (Oct. 7), let’s take a brief look at fantasy hockey.

I have a particular adoration for fantasy hockey. My immersion into fantasy hockey is recent and reflective of this blog’s purpose.  I drafted my first fantasy hockey team in 2008. I considered myself a Chicago Blackhawks fan but, frankly, had very limited knowledge of the sport. However, because the Blackhawks were at the beginning of a rise to greatness, I started following the sport a bit more than usual.

In 2008, I decided to play fantasy hockey in an effort to learn more about hockey. It worked wonders. By the end of the season, I had a fairly strong base of knowledge about the players and the rules of the game. Although my team finished 6th out of 12 teams, I started to become a fan.

By 2009, with the expectations for the Blackhawks high and my interest in the NHL even higher, I drafted a fantasy hockey team that ended up finishing 2nd overall in my league. By the end of the season, not only had the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, but my knowledge of hockey was at a very high level. I had great familiarity with nearly every team, every player and understood the various nuances of the game. This knowledge was directly related to playing fantasy hockey.

As a result, I truly believe that those who are interested in learning about a sport should start with fantasy sports. Like Mike Beacom said in my previous post, it is a great way to learn about the game.

As for fantasy hockey, I think it’s a lot of fun. Its loyal base is directly related to the NHL’s fan base. There may be less fans than Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association, but NHL fans have extraordinary knowledge for the sport and its history and they take it very seriously. Therefore, it is much harder to compete in a fantasy hockey league because your opponents are very active and have great knowledge.

Lastly, a little piece of advice: of all the fantasy sports, fantasy hockey is the only sport that I advocate a salary cap auction league. In this type of league, each owner is given a salary cap (i.e. a budget) and as players are announced, the owners bid on each player. The highest bid gets the player. However, each team must stay under the salary cap and remain under throughout the season.

The reason I find this to be the best option for fantasy hockey is because of the limited amount of great players and, like I mentioned earlier, the depth of knowledge among fantasy hockey managers. With the amount of great, high-producing players in the NHL at a premium, owners are forced to employ an effective bidding strategy to have success.

Also, with an auction, a league is less likely to experience an extreme gap in managing skills. If a hockey player is being auctioned, each manager can see the relative value he holds and, by witnessing that, other less-knowledgeable owners are informed.

Hopefully, that gives you a bit more knowledge of this unique fantasy game. Good luck this season!

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