Sunday, April 08, 2007



The Stanley Cup Playoffs, the greatest spectacle and the toughest trophy to win in all of professional sport!

This is where we separate the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, the real heroes from the wannabes and poseurs. This is where those with hockey smarts and the courage of their convictions can also shine. Because next to getting stitched up on the bench and playing with a broken leg, the most venerable tradition in the quest for the Stanley Cup is the "Hockey Pool"!


Will Dixon and I have been in hockey pools at least as long as we've known each other. No matter where we are or what we're doing, we have honored our on-ice warriors season after season by picking who we feel are the best among them and putting a little money on their sweaty asses.

I remember the two of us ending up in LA one season with the Leafs (our beloved team) making a run for the Cup. Hockey wasn't on TV down there back then (and seldom if ever even now) and the playoff games could only be had with access to an ANIK-B satellite. We drove all over LA until we found a bar called "Yankee Doodle's" in Santa Monica that could rotate its rooftop dish to access that particular Deathstar.

But the owner didn't want to upset his regulars, who came in to watch pansy sports like basketball and golf while sipping their light beers and wine coolers, so we made him a deal. In return for NHL access on the big screen in a basement back room, we'd drag in all the ex-pat hockey fans we could find and not only eat him out of chicken wings, but put to use every case of Molson's and Moosehead he had languishing in the fridge.

By the time we were done, we had up to 40 rabid hockey fans there every night cheering so loud, the guys on the Golf Channel were having to speak in a normal voice to be heard.

This season, being thousands of miles apart and with most of the people with whom we regularly communicate passing through our blogs, we cooked up this little plan to hold our hockey pool online.


You join "The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool" by sending me an email at with "POOL PICKS" in the subject line between 6:00pm EST Sunday (today)and 6:00 PM EST Wednesday night (April 11/07). The Playoffs begin an hour or so later.

In your email, list the 10 skaters and 2 Goalies who make up your team. They can be members of any of the 16 teams competing in the opening round. The scoring is as follows:

For every goal or assist scored by your skater you earn 1 point. Every time your goalie wins you also earn a point and seven points each time he earns a shutout. Shutouts in Stanley Cup play are rare and skaters will always earn more points than a Goalie, but this is a way of evening things up.

The 12 players you choose are yours for the entire tournament. As the teams your players represent fall by the wayside, they cease earning you points, but their totals remain a part of your totals. In the end, the poolie with the most points wins.

I'll post your team online. From then on, you can check your progress by going HERE. The pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley.

Once you're inside, you'll see all the information on the poolies and their teams. You'll also receive a weekly email update of the pool standings, which either Will or I will post for all the world to see on our blogs.

See -- easy and fun! The only thing missing is the chance to share the beer and wings and make fun of each other's choices.

Now, playing in a hockey pool is very simple but a certain amount of strategy is involved. I've seen poolies pick players from teams that exited early still win because those players racked up so many points in the early going. I've also seen poolies with terrible picks come out on top because they had a hot goalie in their pool.

Like everything else in the game, it's ultimately up to the hockey gods.

If you're new to pools or the game, you can learn more on who you should pick by visiting HERE or HERE or HERE.

But let me give you a few tried and true pointers of my own.

1. You absolutely don't want the guys who are scoring leaders in the regular season. Especially if they're from Russia, Sweden or the Czech Republic. Remember -- it's a Canadian game! The regular season is also full of games nobody really cares about and games against terrible teams where those wussy European scoring leaders rack up most of their points. You want guys whose stats indicate they've barely scored at all. This means they're DUE.

2. Look for guys who are injury prone, particularly players who've suffered a number of head injuries. There's an old hockey adage that guys who win are playing like they're "unconscious" or "out of their minds". Pick skaters who have had several recent concussions.

3. Also look for a stat called PIM, that stands for "Penalties In Minutes" and it denotes the roughest, toughest customers in the league. The Stanley Cup is won by the team with the most grit. This means lots of fights for a team wanting to stay in it for the long haul. Fighters are the guys who rack up the biggest PIM numbers. Grab them first!

4. Never pick a first string Goalie! These guys have played 82 games of the regular season and they're tired. You want the back up Goalies, particularly the guys who play "third string". They're fresh. And they've had the most time to practice the art often repeated in the old adage "to win the Goalie has to stand on his head".

Just to make things even more fair, I promise not to take ANY of those guys, to give you a better chance at winning.

And what do you win?

Well, since gambling is technically illegal, and the entrants are going to come from a lot of disparate currencies that have trouble competing with the Mighty Canadian Dollar, we've decided that your entrance fee must be something either related to your career or a sports souvenir you've gathered along the way.

Once the winner is decided, all entrants must ship he or she a DVD of a film they made, an autographed script, their Bobby Orr lunchbox or even that old Honus Wagner baseball card that's just gathering dust in grandpa's desk.

I'm personally contributing my "talking" Paul Henderson Hockey card which features Foster Hewitt making the call of the "Goal of the 20th Century" as well as an autographed copy of the final episode of "Friday the 13th" (which is probably worth a small fortune or at least five bucks on eBay).

There are no other restrictions to participating. Just join up, pick your players and set aside your victory swag.

Looking forward to playing with with you! Game on!!!!


Webs said...

Another hint for your readers: this is a Canadian game and the Canadian teams shine in the playoffs. Go heavy on Canadians playing in their own country and stock your team with Canadiens, Maple Leafs (a good pick every year), and last year's Stanley Cup finalist Oilers.

wcdixon said...

Take those players with high PIM's, and the first string goalies are "tired"...too funny, Jim.

Christopher Walks said...

Wow! Great tips for Playoff Pool "success". I also like the picture of the Leafs and Canadiens at the top; two teams with lots of long term playoff success.

Any "guides" for choosing regular season hockey pool?
Fantasy Hockey Pool Stats .ca