June 15th, 2011. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. One of the lowest, most depressing days of my life (and that’s saying something, because I have had some doozies). I made plans to watch the game in my friend Jesse’s downtown apartment, so that we would be nearby to join in the victory festivities. At the end of the second, when Patrice Bergeron netted his second of the game to put the Bruins up 3-0, it became apparent that the game had just become out of reach.
“Fuck it” remarked Jesse, my lifelong friend,(and, to the best of my knowledge, a steadfast Canucks supporter) “If they are going to lose, I hope Boston gets like 7. I have 6 Bruins on my fantasy team and I’m in second place in my league.”
My first instinct was to grab the nearest blunt object and bludgeon Jesse to death with it. Luckily for him, a montage of moments from our decades long friendship flashed through my mind and I thought better of it, and instead responded with something like “My god, man, how can you say such a thing?”
Thinking in those terms at a moment like that was something I was simply incapable of getting my head around.
I have myself dabbled in the odd playoff pool here and there, but never really took it all that seriously, and have certainly never let it interfere with my Canucks Superfan status.
This year, my ballhockey team convinced me to join a fantasy hockey league, and I have definitely noticed that it changes the way I watch and follow the game in significant ways.
1) Paying attention to teams/players I previously didn’t give a shit about:
I have Kessel and Kadri on my team. I hate the Leafs. Suddenly I want the Leafs to win lots of games and score lots of goals. It’s fucking weird.
Pekka Rinne has been out for months. I know all the intimate details of his hip infection, treatment, and recovery, and I want him to get better. I have really been pulling for the poor bastard. Also I celebrated when Stephen Stamkos’s broke his leg, because it ruined my friend Paddy’s team completely. Celebrating someone breaking a leg is wrong and I feel bad about it. Having said that, I am kicking Paddy’s ass and am thoroughly enjoying it.
3) Canucks goaltending:
I got Luongo in the 6th round (steal). Every game Eddie Lack has won, especially every time he has gotten a shutout, it has felt like he has stolen something from me. Those should have been Luongo’s wins/shutouts, and therefore those should have been MY fantasy points. This has rendered me almost incapable of celebrating the fact that we now have what appears to be a highly capable backup goaltender.
4) Underperforming Canucks:
I could have selected more Canucks on my team. Kesler could easily have been mine. Daniel and Henrik were both still on the board when I took Tavares. Booth and Kassian could easily have been taken in later rounds as sleeper picks. I wish all those guys were producing more, but there is still this weird sense of satisfaction in the fact that they aren’t, and that I was right.
5) Nail Yakupov:
Watching an Oilers high draft pick flounder and fail used to be so satisfying. Yakupov’s impotence this year has only served to waste my third round pick. Moral of the story: Oilers scouts are retards, never listen to them.
I still think that Jesse’s actions were shameful and deplorable. I cannot envision the day where the needs of my fantasy hockey team trump the needs of the Canucks, but If you’d asked me a year ago If I could ever envision a day where I would be hoping that douchebag Yakupov would find his touch I would have said no to that too.
All that I do know is that something has changed, and that it is Fantasy Hockey’s fault. I’m pretty convinced that there is no going back, because its actually pretty fun. The scary thing is that I don’t know where this road is heading, I just hope I don’t end up like Jesse, because that would be a tragedy.
For now, let’s all just hope that Mike Cammaleri gets better soon and goes on a tear. Wait, did I just say that?