It's the MOST wonderful time of the year…!!!
The Stanley Cup Playoffs, the greatest spectacle and the toughest trophy to win in all of professional sport!
And while my hapless Leafs have missed the playoffs for the sixth 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 the time for those with hockey smarts and the courage of their convictions to 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 organizing hockey pools almost as long as we've known each other. No matter where we were or what we were doing, we honored our on-ice warriors season after season by picking who we felt were the best among them and putting a little money on their sweaty behinds.
Many seasons back, being thousands of miles apart and with most of the people with whom we regularly communicated passing through our blogs, we cooked up a plan to hold our hockey pool online. It was an astonishing success! Last year was especially awesome. And this year it'll be even bigger and better.
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 13/2011) when the first puck drops in Pittsburgh.
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.
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 you tally 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 visiting our private online pool site whenever you like. All players will be provided with a login and 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 other poolies and their teams. You'll also receive a twice weekly (Monday and Friday) update of the pool standings, which I will post for all the world to see here at the Legion.
See -- easy and fun! The only thing missing is the chance to share 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 Twitter 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 their 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.
Like everything else in the game, it's ultimately up to the Hockey Gods.
WHAT DO YOU WIN?
Well, since gambling is technically illegal around here, and the Infamous Writers entrants come from several disparate currencies, your entrance fee must be something either related to your career or a sports souvenir you've acquired along the way.
What you choose to wager is completely up to you and never revealed to anyone but the Pool Winner.
Once our winner is decided, all entrants must ship he or she their prize. In the past, the winner's booty has included DVDs of other people's films, autographed scripts, playoff worn jerseys, signed hockey cards and who knows what else.
There will also be prizes for the poolies finishing 2nd or 3rd as well as side contests along the way, including our incredibly popular "Props" contest in the final round.
There are no other restrictions to participating. Just join up, pick your players and set aside your victory swag.
A lot of great Canadian artists (even some you might recognize) and hockey fans from here and elsewhere are all looking forward to playing with you!
So jump in the pool!