In the interest of spending even less time producing valuable output while strapped to our computers, the good folks at AHF have all joined the same fantasy hockey league, along with a dozen friends, leaving me wondering who the hell else in America is playing fantasy hockey. When draft time came around Tuesday night, the chronological math of an 11 PM start time, 16 teams, 20 roster spots, and a minute and a half alotment per pick wasn't looking promising for those of us with actual, functioning circadian rhythms, so reckless, baseless picks were encouraged from the start. Though Yahoo's done some good things with tweaking the AI for fantasy baseball autodraft in terms of prioritizing you filling your roster before slavishly following the questionable O-rankings decided upon by the CFO's teenage son, no one trusted them to have been so attentive to the red-headed stepchild of fantasy sports, and it was nearly a full virtual house. After my team, the Sixth Hole, drew first slot in the order, I formally introduced myself to Mr. Crosby--all naysayers can march alongside your own drummer all the way to April, say hi to the Coyotes and Kings for me-- and poured myself a drink to sit back and watch everyone scramble to achieve mediocrity.
The AHF crew was nicely spaced throughout the snake, and other than the deafening crack that shook the city when Ben saw Marty Brodeur (handsomely) snapped up in the pick before his, and the general feeling that the Sabres have truly, truly broken Jack, the first few rounds went much as expected, somewhat regrettably. There's very few poor decisions that can be made at that point, so shittalking was minimized, but you gotta use your gems before the later rounds, when no one knows what the hell they're doing anyway and you have to fall back on rather specific insinuations as to Ben's mom's whereabouts and doings. The beauty of hockey is that the players are so distinct, in their look, their attitude, and the goddamn stupidity of their actions (Dani Heatley, here's looking at you), so shittalking can be regressed back to schoolyard namecalling, using particularly bad offenders. When Ritch picks up, say, Tim Thomas as his goalie, a simple "Who next, Yashin?" gets the point across almost eloquently.
Most of us assumed that even a passing familiarity with hockey would carry us through at least the first six rounds of such a large league, but it turns out there's some sort of weird top-down thing with Slavic hockey player names- you're familiar with one -qvist or -inen, you think you know them all, when in reality, it turns out you are an ignorant, ignorant fool. One doesn't understand how desperate things are until Teppo Numminen goes in the thirteenth round with the hope that it was only "light heart surgery", and odds are laid out on Mike Modano breaking a hip before the All-Star game. Drafting strategies evolved from skill level---starter---have heard the name before---name sounds Russian---suppose should take a Western Conference player---name sounds dirty---name sounds like he's hung well---pointer happened to be over his name. I dare each and every one of you not to snicker at the name Alexander Semin after five beers and two hours in front of a computer screen.
All in all, we clocked in at a little over two hours, and I walked away with a bomb squad, and Ritch walked away from a hockey event not in tears. For those who who joined an American Hockey Fan Contributor Fantasy League, results of Week One's showdowns, conveniently between Ben/Jack and Ritch/Myself, are to come.