Fantasy fix


Popping my fantasy hockey cherry

Braden Dupuis
Sports Writer

I like hockey. I’ve been watching it for as long as I can remember, and played competitively until I was out of high school. I also like fantasy. Sometimes I pretend I have a life-threatening disease to solicit donations and sympathy from Christians.

Being that I enjoy both of these things, it seems only natural that I would enjoy the combination of the two, which is why when I was asked to join a friend’s fantasy hockey league this year, I jumped at the chance.

And with that, the Regina Rockstars were born.

Unbeknownst to me, however, I was headed down a path of broken dreams and mental anguish from which there would be no return.

Now, being a fantasy hockey virgin, I’ll admit I was a little intimidated in the week leading up to the draft.

The league I joined, called The Amazing League of Excellence, consists of 11 experienced and knowledgeable fantasy hockey owners. Having no idea how fantasy hockey works, I was at a clear disadvantage.

So I did my homework. I scoured stats sheets and asked for opinions on message boards. I googled ‘How does fantasy hockey work’ and read up on the topic on the all-knowing Wikipedia.

Soon enough I had compiled an exhaustive list of desired NHL players, and I was ready
to draft.

With the third overall selection, the Regina Rockstars chose Steven Stamkos – a bona fide goal-scorer certain to notch up the points in a shortened season.

Next to join the Rockstars were Scott Hartnell and Jordan Eberle, lending some grit and finesse to our top line.

With my number one unit signed to one-year deals, I was confident we could compete on a goal-scoring level, but before the ink could even dry I noticed a major flaw in my drafting strategy – nearly all the best goalies were already committed to other teams.

In a scramble to make things right, the Rockstars drafted Canucks’ keeper Cory Schneider. It would prove to be our first misstep.

In his first start, Schneider allowed five goals in less than half a game, putting the Rockstars in a hole that would be too deep to climb out of in week one.

After one day, our goals against average (GAA) was an abysmal 11.75. It was not a good start for the Rockstars, and a sign of things to come.

But for better or for worse, hope would survive on the strength of a well-balanced squad.

Late picks like Boston’s Brad Marchand and New Jersey’s David Clarkson proved fruitful, as both forwards notched a pair of goals for the Rockstars in week one.

The power play performances of St. Louis Blue defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz helped lock up the power play points (PPP) category as well.

For much of week one, the Rockstars rolled along nicely, steadily thumping our opponent, Team Heisenberg, in nearly every category.

Even our goaltending, led now by backup Martin Brodeur, bounced back to provide respectable numbers.

But in the final two days, Heisenberg closed the gap until we were dead even.

Going into the final day of the week, the Rockstars were a sad looking bunch.

The news that Hartnell would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot seemed to deflate the locker room. The fact that restricted free agent primadonna P.K. Subban had yet to sign a new contract, soured things even further.

In just the first week of the shortened season, it seemed inevitable that the $50 investment I had made in my team would not be returning to my bank account.

I turned to alcohol to curb my deepening depression. I did my damndest to drink away the pain of being the manager of a god-awful hockey team.

“This is how Brian Burke must feel,” I thought to myself, as I signaled to the bartender for another.

It’s been one agonizing week, and the season ahead is sure to be a long one for the hard-luck Rockstars.

As I hit the refresh button for the hundredth time only to see my stats remain stagnant and my opponent’s steadily rising, I come to a foregone conclusion.

For some people, fantasy hockey is just far too real.

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