The Stanley Cup Playoffs, the greatest spectacle and the toughest trophy to win in all of professional sport!
And while signs like this spring up all over the country as my hapless Leafs miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year; once again it is time to 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"!
AND NOW YOU CAN BE A PART OF IT!!!
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 behinds.
Three seasons back, 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. It was an astonishing success! Last year was awesome. And this year it's going to be even bigger and better.
Because we’ve got one new rule designed to shake things up a bit!
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
You join "The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool" by sending me an email at email@example.com with "POOL PICKS" in the subject line between 8:00 AM EST Monday (today) and 7:00 PM EST Wednesday night (April 14/10) when the first pucks drop in Pittsburgh and New Jersey.
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.
This year, at least THREE of your picks must come from one team. Three skaters, two and a goalie, your choice. The point is to make a small commitment (25% of your roster) to a team you think is either going to win it all, go deep or roll up a lot of points.
The scoring is as follows:
For every goal or assist scored by your skaters 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 total. 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. All players will be provided with a password so they can check their progress throughout the playoffs.
Once you're inside the pool site, you'll see all the information on the poolies and their teams. You'll also receive a twice weekly 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. Anybody who wants to open a Facebook group to handle the trash talk or Twitters their opponents has our blessing.
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.
WHAT DO YOU WIN?
Well, since gambling is technically illegal, and the entrants are going to come from a lot of disparate currencies, 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.
There will also be prizes for the poolies finishing 2nd or 3rd as well as side contests along the way.
There are no other restrictions to participating. Just join up, pick your players and set aside your victory swag.
Both Will and I are looking forward to playing with with you!