Last night, I was listening to the Sharks/Panthers game. "Penalty coming up on Florida..." the play-by-play guy said. I hoped that it was on defenseman Mike Van Ryn, who is on my fantasy team. "...Van Ryn was beaten on the play, and he had no choice but to hook Cheechoo." Bingo!
This description rekindled my questions about penalty minutes as a fantasy stat. I've played fantasy hockey for years, and in every league I've played in, penalty minutes are always a category. The more penalty minutes, the better. I've never quite understood this. It seems like rewarding errors in baseball or turnovers in basketball or football.
My best guess as to why hockey penalty minutes are rewarded, and not penalized by fantasy leagues, is because fantasy leagues try to replicate the experience of creating a well-rounded team. Every good NHL team has an enforcer, so any good fantasy team must have one as well, the theory goes. This gives fantasy value to bruisers who don't score and sometimes can't even skate well. I sort of understand that -- rewarding penalty minutes gives fantasy value to unsung heroes who grind it out in the trenches but don't get the headlines.
But there are two kinds of penalty minutes. There is the fighting major for a guy who is protecting his team's star forward, and there is the hooking minor on a guy like Van Ryn, who made a bad play and committed a penalty rather than allowing a scoring opportunity. I'm not exactly sure what fantasy leagues should do. Maybe reward fights -- the theory being that these are necessary parts of the game because they protect star players -- but place a negative emphasis on minor penalties? It would be more realistic, because there is no way that my fantasy team should be rewarded for a bad play like I heard last night.
Posted by Ted Rossman at 11/1/2006 10:46:00 AM