(Ed. Note: This season, we've had an ongoing feature called "I Hate My [expletive deleted] Fantasy Team!", in which we've lived vicariously through two Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey GMs and felt their pain. So much pain, in fact, that we felt it was time for a special edition of the column that pinpoints some of the most maddening NHL fantasy frustrations this year. Please join The Rev. Zamboni from The Palm Isle and Hextall454 of Melt Your Face Off in their fantasy loathing.)
By Hextall454 and The Rev. Zamboni
Hex: So Wyshynski wants us to identify the 10 most hated fantasy players from this season? And just how are we supposed to go about doing that? Even though the PD commentariat might disagree, we've done our best to keep such a group off our respective rosters, and now we need to go back and make them more famous by writing about them on the Internets? I don't know about you, but I hate this [expletive deleted] fantasy column idea.
Even so, online snark doesn't write itself. So I'll let you go first and get your diatribe about Marian Gaborik out of the way early.
RevZ: There's some kind of pop psychology at play here, but the reasons I end up hating a real player in my non-real league are generally tied to imbedded hatred of my own inability to make reasonable decisions under pressure in the draft. It's been well-documented in this column that I drafted Marian Gaborik in the second round this year, from the passenger seat of my car, with my wife driving, my kids talking, and a friend and fellow league member logged into my account and drafting from California with instructions coming by spotty cell connection.
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But even without extenuating circumstances, I make bad decisions on draft day every year, and seem to be able to execute no discernable strategy. Go strong on goalies? Address position weakness? Shore up some dominant scorers? How about all three at once?
This is tied to a complete lack of preparation, which may also be tied to the fact that I don't really even like playing fantasy hockey, until of course I have a successful team that is only reasonably successful because of some strong measure of luck, and some lingering knowledge of hockey from the mid-90s.
Hex: It's okay, Rev. You're a man of the cloth. God will reward your humility by giving you Ovechkin every year until he retires. Or by smiting Mike Milbury. Either way, you win.
As for my first entrant to this list of 10, I'll take the other easy one off the board and nominate Daniel "I'm Danny Now" Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers. Sure, his point-a-game pace may seem attractive to fantasy owners -- that's a Top 20 pedigree. It's just a shame that Captain Groinpull has only played in 10 of them. But at least the lining is silver -- if you've got No. 48 in your Injured Reserve slot, you won't have to waive two solid NHL players and send another two to your AHL affiliate just to let the man dress.
I wish the same could be said for the Flyers.
RevZ: We're only on our second player, and already I've got to create some artificial parameters to work up the hate. So let's get this out of the way: I hate the Rangers. More than any other team in any sport. I hated the Rangers before I even realized I liked hockey, primarily because of two prick Rangers fans in my school. I don't draft Rangers/trade for them/pick them up on the waiver wire. And I don't particularly enjoy when they perform well for other fantasy owners, but the real-world implications of that performance disturb me far more than in the Federal League, where hockey knowledge goes to die.
Ok, with that out of the way ...
I'll take Jason Arnott, the prototypical marginal fantasy player. I drafted Arnott. He helped fill the void left by the ghost of Derek Roy in the first few months of the season. He got cold. I dropped him somewhere along the way. He sits. And he sits. He plays a little good. He plays a little bad. And then the damn league leader loses Steve Ott to the WWE, and there's Arnott, waiting to be plucked, ensuring little drop off for "Ass Bonanza," the luckiest manager (I mean it, I've been running the numbers all morning) in the history of the Federal League.
So Jason Arnott and your ilk, the marginally good waiver wire cherry I'm forced to contribute to a winning cause other than my own (because I'm strong at center and nowhere else) I sort of dislike you.
Hex: But here's the thing about prototypical marginal fantasy players. For some reason, no one can recognize them for what they are, which is what allows these jokers to cycle through your league's franchises with as little fanfare as possible. Yahoo! needs to add a feature where these guys' names blink Carolina Hurricane red any time your cursor merely passes over their row on the free agent list. But hey, I know that Yahoo! probably is having money trouble like every other American company, so they may not have the cash to track such a list of mediocrity.
So I'll do it on their behalf. Blinking first with fire engine bullet? How about Niklas Hagman? Drafted, dropped, added, dropped, added, dropped, elbowed in the head. Oh, and he plays for Toronto. Fail.
RevZ: I like that idea. Yahoo! might also develop a similar warning system for players who keep weaseling their way back onto our rosters despite past abuses. Let's call it the Chris Brown alarm. My first candidate: Nikolai Khabibulin (if there's any indication of the length and severity of this relationship, it's the fact that I can spell his name on the first attempt without consulting the Googles).
During the course of four years, I owned Khabibulin twice, each time after a season in which he was mostly good and during a season in which he was anything but good. And then, in year five (this year, for anyone playing along), he spent the first three months of the season [expletive deleted] with my new flame, Cristobal Huet, just to ensure a rocky transition. He hasn't threatened to kill himself yet, but hey, it's only March. And we haven't talked in awhile.
Hex: Speaking of relationships, I spent the final round of our draft reveling in my own brilliance for sneaking out of the dance with Steven Stamkos on my arm. You can always count on a rookie to give the die-hard hockey fans an edge in fantasy, while your rivals spend their days banking on guys who were "pretty good" in "NHL 95" on their "Super Nintendo." But Stamkos proved to be a dullard of a date, insisting on quiet evenings flipping through books and magazines at the local Borders with polite conversation and NO SCORING WHATSOEVER. So I left him. I left him crying near the New Releases.
And over winter break, he turned into Alison Ashmore from "High Fidelity." Slut.
RevZ: We're getting into "I only hate you in the morning" territory here, but my fourth nominee is Carey Price (and really, the Montreal Canadiens writ large). I know he's hurt or something, and he's been solidly disappointing for most of the season, but he's been awful in January and February. Not only has he only won twice, he's allowed five or more goals five times. I don't care if he drinks himself under a bus three nights a week, as long as he's good for three of four victories a month.
And here's something: Did you know Price is 6-3, 226? Does he look it? Does he play like it? I would have guessed he was about 5-10, 180. Somebody on Les Real Mauvais Habitants better hire a Reggie Dunlop stand-in for the rest of the season. The boy needs a little competitive edge.
Hex: My next nominee really deserves no ire of my own; mostly for the reason that I didn't know he was a hockey player until moments ago. But after sorting Yahoo!'s player list by percentage owned, I came across an interesting fact. According to the Y!, seven players are owned in 100% of Yahoo! leagues. Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Lidstrom, Hossa, Zetterberg, and Iginla. That's it.
This means that in some league out there, Ilya Kovalchuk is a free agent.
There is also a league out there where Enver Lisin, apparently a Coyotes right-winger is owned. His 10 goals, seven assists, and minus-18 rating mean one of two things: 1.) There's a 30-team fantasy league out there with a billion bench spots. 2.) Enver Lisin plays fantasy hockey.
RevZ: Really, I don't hate five hockey players, at least not in a fantastical sense. Maybe I hate Huet? But it's probably just a conditional and occasional dislike. Tomas Vanek? Yeah, he screwed me a little bit last year, but this year he's another manager's problem...
But, if ownership is not a criteria, one player I hate in fantasy is the one and only soccerland star, Alex Ovechkin, teaching Canadian kids to love bicycle kicks and porn since 2005. I've never owned him, which only further emphasizes that in 10 or 12 years of play in this damn league, I've never had the first pick. Or the second pick. Or even the damn wheel on the back end. I realize this is a mathematically acceptable and normal trend, but it still sucks.
And seeing Ovechkin tear off his shirt and kiss the grass after he scores only serves to drive the point further home.
So I'm Don Cherry on this one: Ovechkin, stop scoring. You're making us North Americans look bad.
Hex: You took Ovechkin? Damn it. That was my big finish! In that case, I'm going to do something to get us both fired.
Zach Parise. Take that, Wyshynski.
(Note: Parise was drafted in the 12th round of our draft. In Round 12, I took Lubo Visnovsky.)