User Interview: Thunderwolf

Q&A with noted SimLeague Hockey user Thunderwolf

Paralyzed from the shoulders down, Thunderwolf has been a successful SimLeague Hockey user for over three years, even recently winning his first Cup (after five trips to the Finals). Thunderwolf puts things into perspective in the latest interview where we discuss checking lines, D-rating, shooting percentage, Thunder Bay, Gilbert Perrault, Scotty Bowman, the New York Mets and his Good High-Scoring Theme League (NHL17811).

WIS

Who is Thunderwolf?

Thunderwolf

The Thunderwolves is the name of the University hockey team here in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They have been really popular since we lost the junior teams. I go to some games when I can. The wheelchair seats are actually the best. That team has been to the college finals a couple times.

WIS

How did you learn about WhatIfSports.com and our SimLeagues?

Thunderwolf

I get a TSN email regularly. There were two ads for fantasy hockey and one of them was yours for SimHockey. It sounded very intriguing so I signed up. At first, I was worried about how the site would work. It's just a matter of doing it with the voice activation and that fits right in.

WIS

Which games have you played?

Thunderwolf

Just SimLeague Hockey. I am a big baseball fan as well, so I will try a team in that pretty soon. I became a big Mets fan when I was 7. My aunt took care of me and she watched baseball every Sunday. She told me that I either had to learn to love baseball or go play outside - in the cold and wind of Nova Scotia. I think I could make a good baseball team and probably could do a good job with basketball as well.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Thunderwolf

I follow all sports. I read a ton and watch movies. For me now, it is a lot of work sometimes just to stay alive. I take 35 pills a day and am bed ridden almost all the time. When I do get out, I use a wheelchair with a headrest that I control myself. It has three panels and I just tap either side to go, turn, etc.

WIS

How did this happen?

Thunderwolf

I am paralyzed from about the shoulders down. In 2000, I was a passenger in a pickup truck that was carrying a camper. The camper was not fastened on tightly enough. The truck went into the ditch and the camper came through the back of the cab, hit my neck and severed my spine.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

Thunderwolf

Scotty Bowman, Don Cherry, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Gilbert Perrault.

WIS

Which are some of your favorite hockey teams of all-time?

Thunderwolf

All the Canadien's teams.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Thunderwolf

I watched Perrault all the way up through juniors. He is the best stickhandler I have ever seen. I love Mario and there are some great young kids now, but there was no one like Perrault. I also liked Frank Mahovlich. In baseball, I remember watching Pete Rose as a rookie. He played so hard that I thought he would never last - I guess I was wrong about that. And when he was at the plate, it looked like he could just through the ball out there wherever he wanted it. Mickey Mantle was one of my favorites and definitely Tom Seaver.

WIS

Build your all-time dream hockey team:

Thunderwolf

I would keep the line of Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Jacque Lemaire. On defense, I would play Bobby Orr and Dallas Smith. In net - Patrick Roy.

WIS

If you had the power to replace Gary Bettman as commissioner, what is the first thing you would try to change?

Thunderwolf

I would cut back the regular season schedule. It's just too much. Financially, I am not sure if every team could afford losing a few games, but it has to come down to 78 - 76 would be perfect. Look, careers are being cut short , the equipment used by the pro's now is causing a lot of the concussions I'm sure and with the speed of the game getting faster and faster one of these open ice hit's could kill someone (and I love good hard hockey) .

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

Thunderwolf

Paul Henderson's goal in '72 to beat the Russians.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

Thunderwolf

I recently won my first Cup finals in a seven game series where I was up 3-1 and almost grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory by letting my opponent (damag) come back to tie it up. With home ice advantage, I double-shifted everything and that was almost not enough. I had been to five previous finals, but no cups. There was one series I was fond of where I had been the seven seed in my conference and made it all the way to game seven of the cup finals. That was great, but there is nothing like winning.

WIS

Which coaches, past or present, do you draw on for inspiration?

Thunderwolf

Bowman, Bob Gainey and I guess some Al Arbour.

WIS

What can you tell users who may be unfamiliar with the game about the merits of SimLeague hockey?

Thunderwolf

It is a fun game, but you have to realize that it is different from real-life. Wayne Gretzky never played against the best goalies every game so he is not going to have the same numbers he did. This makes it a true challenge. There are so many different combinations and interactions going on. And, join my theme league (NHL17811) if want to see some scoring!

WIS

What is your general strategy for SimLeague building teams? What is the most important thing to keep in mind while drafting?

Thunderwolf

Health because I want to make sure they last the season. After that, the two biggest things are D-rating and shooting percentage.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your team?

Thunderwolf

Bryan Trottier is a wonderful checker and can be excellent offensively. Larry Robinson can play on both ends of a kill and you can put him there all season. I put Perrault on my teams, mostly because of loyalty. He may be the best short-handed goal scorer and can kill penalties. Putting him on the wing comes in handy as opposed to forcing him to his natural center position.

WIS

Are there any players that you feel consistently underachieve?

Thunderwolf

Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek.

WIS

How do you go about setting your lines?

Thunderwolf

I am scared of the aggressive setting because it allows the other team to get more opportunities. Sometimes aggressiveness is necessary to get the most out of a player. If I have a guy who had 70+ goals but took over 500 shots, I need to increase his shot chances to get him to score. At first I did not fully grasp the defensive shooting settings, but I see now that they can be pretty nifty. I tend to set them on rarely shoot during even strength and penalty kill situations and I let them shoot as much as they want on the powerplay.

WIS

Do you make transactions (call-ups/demotions, trades, waiver wire, etc.) during the season? Why or why not?

Thunderwolf

I do a few trades, but not that often. I enjoy the waiver wire, yet have no faith in the minor leagues. That may be because I don't feel I have had any luck with minor leaguers. Now you will probably slip a few good ones by me, but I will use the waiver wire before I rely on a minor league player.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and who challenge you the most?

Thunderwolf

Sergei91 is a good guy and I hate to play him. Yogsloth - Yogi is great. Nickneely can be absolutely punishing. Damag, Couillu98 and Lounpink are some of the other real good owners.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague hockey?

Thunderwolf

The complete control that I can have over players. With lines and scouting and matching lines, I feel like I really have control.

WIS

If you could change anything about SimLeague hockey and/or the site, what would you change?

Thunderwolf

I feel like I can fly around the site as quick as someone with a mouse, but there are a few shortcuts that could help. Matching lines is not really as tight as it should be. In the NHL, a guy can check a guy exactly. And the traded or waived players should show up at the bottom of the stats. With the shading and the player list, it takes a lot scrolling to see the players on my team. The players who are traded or waived should be bunched together at the bottom of the player's stats list.

WIS

All of us at WhatIfSports.com would like to thank Thunderwolf for his inspiration, enthusiasm and passion. Congratulations on the cup and good luck in the future.

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