In 2004 the NHL missed an entire season due to a labor dispute. In 2005 the NHL came back better than ever, in what is still refereed to as the "New NHL". With new rules making the game faster and more offensively focused to win back fans. Since the return of the NHL in 2005 fantasy hockey has exploded! Internet websites and blogs have propelled fantasy hockey into the main stream. Office pools are common place, and more and more keeper pools are starting to exist. With the emergence of fantasy hockey it is high time for fantasy hockey to take the next step in its evolution.
The role of enforcer in the NHL since the lockout has gradually been diminishing. The speed and pace of the game make a player who really only brings fighting to the game a liability. Players who can play and fight are much more common place these days. However this has reduced the amount of fights per game we now see and reduced the amount of penalty minutes players rack up over the course of a season. Gone are the days of Tie Domi and Bob Probert racking up 300+ PIM's per season. Zenon Konopka lead the NHL in PIM's last season with 307. Second was Ottawa's Chris Neil at only 210. No other player had 200+. With such diminishing value in the penalty minutes stat from the NHL many fantasy hockey pools have started to react.
The reason why goons and penalty minutes existed in pools in the first place was to create more depth in the drafting pool. In the spirit of creating more depth to draft, fantasy hockey pioneers have turned to other stats.
Most commonly rewarding points for stats such as shots, hits, and blocked shots for defensemen. The hits stat is along the same concept of penalty minutes. It rewards players who play a physical and intimidating style of play. In the NHL, defensemen who are defensive defensemen have unquestionable value. However in fantasy hockey they are worthless. By including stats like hits, and blocked shots players such as Toni Lydman, and Luke Schenn start to have some statistical value. Lets look at Luke Schenn more closely. Schenn scored a mere twenty two points. Not quite enough to be worth being in most fantasy pools. But if you include his 251 hits and 168 blocked shots (even if they score at fraction of points ie. 0.25) he suddenly is a valuable fantasy contributor.
More and more websites that track stats for fantasy poolies are incorporating stats such as hits and blocked shots. Sites such as http://www3.fantrax.com/, and office pools include these and many, many more. For the devoted hockey fantasy nerd such as myself, I enjoy being an a fantasy league that closely resembles the reality of the NHL. Since the role of goons is all but extinct in the NHL it is time for fantasy leagues to follow suit. Penalties by definition are a "punitive measure". So why does fantasy hockey reward them with points. Welcome to the "New Fantasy NHL"