Like every other fantasy game, fantasy hockey had humble beginnings. In the 1980s and early 90s, drafts happened in bars, rec rooms and garages.
Yes, friends actually came together, chirped each other and enjoyed a beverage (or two). And they kept track of their league (and teams) in a spreadsheet. And it might have actually been on paper!
Heaven forbid, right?
Paper, pens and spreadsheets were the staples of early fantasy hockey leagues. Back then, people referred to their leagues as "pools", which simply referred to the pool of people participating in the league.
In Canada, the term hockey pool lives on, especially in workplaces where fantasy leagues often allow poolies to select the same players for their teams. It's an easy way to allow many people to participate and keeps the league low-maintenance.
Early pools were often built on limited scoring categories since the many commissioners calculated statistics manually.
Talk about work.
Fantasy Hockey Moves Online
Fantasy hockey moved online in 1995 courtesy of a Canadian beer company. Molson Breweries unveiled the Molson Fantasy Hockey Pool, an online "pool" that pitted 10 owners against each other. They played for weekly prizes over the course of the NHL season.
At the same time, sites like Office Pools sprung up to allow league commissioners to customize scoring categories and set pool configurations. Suddenly, commissioners had access to software that updated scoring overnight, which did away with manual calculations and allowed poolies to check their scores and standings daily.
New online options