Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fantasy Hockey Picks and Fall thoughts!

We held our 9th (or maybe 10th..) annual NHL hockey draft last night, fun times! I made some good picks, had some good luck with high draft slots early on, and I'm hoping for a good season, lots of wins and few injuries.

Basically, we draw #s to see where we pick in each round. I got a top 2 pick in round #1, and had top four picks each of the next 4 or 5 rounds as well. We select any position we want, in any order we want, but we are limited to 2-goalies, 2-centers, 4-wingers and 4-defenseman. Each week, we start 1-goalie, 1-center, 2-wingers and 2-denfenseman; the weeks are played heads up, the team with most points wins that match-up. There are 2 divisions, ten teams and we also have playoffs later in the season. We do a Stanley Cup pool as well, but this is not from the fantasy teams, just a side venture we've done for years. We've had the same bunch of guys all this time, so it's a blast to 'compete' every year for the title!

The only mistake in my entire draft was in choosing Jiri Hudler, a center from Detroit Red Wings. Well, at least I thought he was with the Wings, and CBS (who hosts our fantasy league) said he was a Red Wing as of last night. But, here I check his profile today on CBS and it says this:

The IIHF will allow Jiri Hudler to sign with Dynamo Moscow of the Continental Hockey League.

Notice the date on their update; if they knew he was playing for Moscow as of 9/09/2009, why wouldn't they pull his name from the pool of free agent centers in the CBS online league?? Here he was my last pick overall, and I thought I'd gotten a sweet bargin. Well, I will start Sid Crosby 100% of the time, if he is healty, so it doesn't matter too much at this time. Crosby has been in the top 3 picks overall for the past several years, and I've owned him for at least 2 years (this will be year #3). He had a mild groin strain in the last few games of preseason, but they say he is feeling better and will take the ice on the season opener on Oct 1st.

Eventually, I will take a look at the free agent centers and see if there are any bargins out there, and maybe scoop one up just in case. I could always use the center I pick up in a trade down the road, maybe fill up an injury spot or bolster the line-up for a late season run.

Here are my picks:

Kiprusoff, Miikka G CGY
Vokoun, Tomas G FLA

Crosby, Sidney C PIT (keeper pick from '08)
Hudler, Jiri C DET

Cammalleri, Mike LW MON
Kane, Patrick RW CHI
Hemsky, Ales RW EDM
Langenbrunner, Jamie RW NJ

Green, Mike D WAS
Spacek, Jaroslav D MON
Campbell, Brian D CHI
Kronwall, Niklas D DET

We're hoping to get to Chicago to take in a Blackhawks game (or two) this year. We always hit Cheli's Chili bar (owned by former 'Hawk Chris Chelios), its the ultimate hockey bar, good food, huge place, hockey memorabilia all over, TVs playing hockey games year 'round. They've got a chili bowl, you've got to see this thing. They take a large round hunk of bread, hollow out the center, and make it a 'chili bowl'-they fill it up with hot chili, put on some cheese, hot peppers and sour cream, it is delicious! Can't wait to get back there this fall.

And back when Cheli played for the 'Hawks, he would come in after some of the home games, with other 'Hawk players, where they had a 'semi private' bar area set up. I remember seeing Jeremy Roenick in there, Sergei Krivokrasov, even Steve Larmer back in the day when he was still with the 'Hawks (pre NY Ranger Stanley Cup days from 1994-still one of the best Cup Finals ever, NYR and Vancover, a 7 game series that was pure adrenaline rush every game). Some celebs would even come in with the players, one night my buddy and I are sitting there and in walks Cheli, and behind him walks in Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan-a big old tall dude next to the much shorter Chelios (who is like 5'08" on a good day!). Got Cheli to sign my one Blackhawk hat one night, and we've talked with some of his family who works at and runs the bar, a pretty cool group of people. Just a fun place to go in Chicago!

Yep, this is like the official start of Fall for me-the start of hockey season. I will miss the warmth of summer, riding in short sleeves with the jersy unzipped all the way, running in sleeveless. Yeah, but Fall is getting to be my favorite season, I think the extreme heat, athletics, racing/running/biking and all that fun stuff are getting tougher for me to handle as I get older. Fall is much easier on the body-man, I remember some of the days riding this summer in the heat, like when I was out east in SC/NC, some of the upper 80s days were tougher on me than riding for 6+ hours in pouring rain and the low 50s.

Winter is no gem to handle in Wisconsin either-you can only bundle up so much and endure only so much of those strong 25+ mph winds in the 20s on a bike before it gets to you-both physically and mentally. I like to tell myself every year that those tough, HTFU rides I do when itsin the 90s and blazin' hot with a ton of humidity, or those days when its like 20 degrees and windy and snow is piling up on my bike as I ride-I tell myself these rides are making me harder, stronger, more dynamic and I will be able to enjoy those Spring and Fall rides that much more. Yeah-I tell myself that, but it doesn't make it any easier to tolerate! But...deep down inside, those runs and rides in those torrid and blustery conditions are something you can tuck away for later, to bring out when you really need to dig deep down inside yourself and say, "Yeah, this is bad. But I know I can do it, I can do it, so lets get it done".

Thats the kind of deep down sort of drive I'm going to be digging into on Sunday, Oct 4th 2009 for the MM. That deep, deep well you draw from, to get through a super tough bike ride or run in the past, drawing that mental picture to keep the legs moving and getting it done. Yep, 3 days and she is here. Legs-feeling good, strong. Right hip-a little tight, sore, maybe irritated might be the right term. Overall-feeling rested, maybe a bit restless...mentally, I am going over my run that I will run, thinking about how it's going to hurt, staying positive at the same time, knowing the pain will still come...but I can get by.

Like I've said before, I just want to hear the crack of the starting pistol-or the air horn? Not sure what they use at the's about time to get it on and get done. Yesterday, I found a video shot by one of the JS Online reporters, he drove the MM route with a small camera mounted on the dash to record the whole route. Talk about a cool idea-they edited the footage and sped it up, while he narrated where the run takes you. Yep, it was a little daunting watching this, but at the same time, I was able to draw some motivation in looking over the course from Grafton WI all the way down to the Milwaukee lakefront and Veteran's Park, where we will finish amongst a crowd of thousands of cheering, screaming fans-including my wife, my kids and my race buddies Bob and Kim! The course itself is a little rolling at first, and you go back and forth, east and west, all the time heading north to south (lets hope for a north wind to cool us and push us at the same time!).

But the last (roughly) 3-4 miles are brilliant, you make a few more turns and keep south on Lake Drive, winding through the sleepy North Shore suburbs, until you make a quick left turn onto Lincoln Memorial Drive-where you can suddenly see a mighty body of water glowing a brilliant, blazing golden sun reflected in a deep blue and gray of Lake Michigan-what a sight it will be! This very turn also means you turn and run downhill-a true downhill, all the way to the finish! Awesome, I say!! I am hoping the weather will cooperate-the forecast said sun and a high of 60 degrees. Lets hope the rain will bypass the area-I will gladly take the cool morning and even clouds, but lets keep the rain on hold!

So, lets cheer on the start of hockey season, the "start" of Fall and the MM! I'm looking forward to all of it.


  1. i got crosby on my fantasy hockey team this year too. can't wait for the season to start today!

  2. Love hockey season. But I'm more of a college hockey kind of girl.

    Good luck with the marathon this weekend. A few days ago I watched the JS video you mentioned, it looks like a nice course. Scenic.

    Good luck!