November 12th, 2010

Fantasy Hockey Team Struggling? 2 Players Can Feel Your Pain

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Being intimately involved with the real game (not as dirty as it sounds) apparently isn’t helping a pair of NHL players in the fantasy version so far.

Via a partnership with the NHL Players Association, Yahoo! Sports is putting on a public fantasy hockey league this season that combines six consumers, four writers and pro skaters Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils and Eric Staal, the captain for the Carolina Hurricanes.

With the season nearing its proverbial quarter pole — as far as I can tell, since I couldn’t find any mention of the letters “N,” “H” and “L” in succession on TV — Parise and Staal rank just seventh and 14th in the 14-team outfit.

Parise — who appears fairly active with the team, having made five roster moves to date — was interviewed on camera as he drafted his team and got off to a strong start. With his first pick, at the No. 3 spot, the Devil (not that one) landed Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who sits as the NHL’s leading scorer as of this posting. His “sleeper pick” of Drew Stafford has yet to really wake up, though, with just one goal in his past five games and a mere eight points for the season.

Staal was reportedly taped at draft time as well, but “technical difficulties” kept his video from being posted. For the record, neither player drafted himself, Parise selected two teammates and Staal picked three (as well as drafting Parise).

Fortunately for Parise’s fantasy team (and unfortunately for his real team), he has a lot more time to manage things these days. He recently had knee surgery for a torn meniscus — and likely other stuff — and is expected to miss three weeks.

Overall, the integration of actual athletes into fantasy games and the use of these public leagues as a marketing tool seem to be growing, and why wouldn’t they? It’s fun for all involved. But then, you already knew that about fantasy.