User Interview: Chuckinlrp

Q&A with noted SimLeague Hockey user Chuckinlrp

We recently contacted SimLeague Hockey guru Chuckinlrp to discuss games played percentages, scouting opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins, playoff strategies, Frankie Valli, Sidney Crosby, gaa, Badger Bob Johnson and Martina McBride.

WIS

Who is chuckinrlp?

Chuckinrlp

Chuckinrlp is Chuck from Red Lion, Pennsylvania (hence the chuckinrlp), General Sales Manager of a Chevrolet Dealership. I'm 48 years old and a lifelong Pittsburgh Penguins fan. My wife Pam and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in June of this year. We have a daughter Ashley who just graduated college, and a son, Andy, who is just starting college. And rounding out our typical average family is Gracie, our miniature schnauzer.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

If my memory is correct, I saw it either mentioned or advertised on ESPN.com I played a few exhibition leagues and then bought my first hockey team. I was in 10th or 11th place with a little over a third of the season left when I asked for help in what I was doing wrong. Many veteran owners gave suggestions, and I finished my first league in 5th place. I went out in 5 in the first round, but I'll never forget thanking all the guys who gave advice in helping me make the playoffs, and sergei made the comment, "The hook has been set!" Well, his statement couldn't have been more prophetic. I've been hooked ever since!

WIS

Which games have you played?

Chuckinrlp

I've played some exhibition basketball and football, but can't really grasp it too well. I've also had a few baseball teams, and my first team actually won the division, losing in the first round of the playoffs. My real love though is for the hockey sim. It allows me to recapture the memories of my youth, with the players I loved watching while growing up.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

I enjoy oldies (I've seen Frankie Valli at least 15 times) and country music (I've been backstage with Martina McBride 4 times), spending time with my wife (who I can't figure out why she's stuck with me for 25 + years), and watching 24. I'm also active in my church, singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school. I also love to travel. Other than our yearly trip to the beach, we've been on two cruises and to Vegas a couple of times (I won almost $2000 my last trip there). My favorite trips though, were a trip I won through Chevrolet to Monte Carlo for a week, and the trip I took the wife and kids on to Hawaii for two weeks in 2002, just so I could give the kids a "vacation to remember". I also just retired from the York County Oldtimers Baseball League, a league for players 35 and older (I'm just south of 50). I was proud of the fact I led my team in hitting one year, and hit .420 with an obp over .500 two years ago against players that can still throw in the low 80's. Injuries have taken their toll, as a broken ankle in a failed slide attempt 4 years ago, and a broken arm from being taken out at 2nd base last year (cheap shot) have forced me to hang up the cleats.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

Every interview I read that WIS does, I think "Wow! That person made a great choice! I could never pick just 5!" Well, OK, here goes:

#1. Franklin Roosevelt. I'd love to know what drove that man. He didn't know the meaning of the word quit, and was an inspiration to many at a time when it was sorely needed.

#2. My Grandfather. He came to this country with nothing but the clothes on his back, just to give his family a better life. Talk about courage.

#3. My Dad. He helped start my love affair with hockey, and when I was at that age where I knew everything and I wouldn't allow us to get along; we could always talk about hockey. He lost a wife, son, daughter, father and mother, but he always had a good outlook on life. I think about him and miss him everyday, even though he's been gone for 17 years.

#4. Sidney Crosby. My dad would have loved the way this kid plays the game. I would love to chat with him (my daughter thinks he's cute, so maybe I can hook them up!?).

#5. Mario Lemieux. My dad loved watching him skate and make plays that had to have been seen to be believed. I'd just like to thank him personally for saving the Penguins franchise on 3 occasions.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

Hmmm. Which Penguins team do I take? That's like asking who your favorite child is! No matter the won-loss records, I can honestly say I've loved them all, relishing every victory, and dying with every loss (just ask the wife!).

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Chuckinrlp

I've been to hundreds of hockey games, so I was fortunate to have watched a lot of the greats of the game while growing up. (I also listened to many more, especially when the Pens were playing late or were on the West Coast. I'd sneak a transistor radio under my pillow and lay on the earphone so no one could see me listening to the game. If the Pens weren't playing, I'd find Super CFL out of Chicago or KMOX out of St. Louis and listen to those games. I vividly remember how great Dan Kelly was). At the games back then, the glass was low on the sides and players would come over during warm ups and sign autographs. I remember Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr going around the rink signing for anyone who asked, but my favorites have to be Andy Bathgate, Dave Burrows, Syl Apps, Jean Pronovost, Les Binkley, and a kid named Michel Briere. I got his autograph right before he was injured in an automobile accident, which eventually claimed his life. I also loved Bill Mazeroski, and what Pittsburgh kid didn't love Roberto Clemente? I could ride the Port Authority Transit bus on summer weekends for $1, and get General Admission seats to watch the Bucs for $1. We'd then try to sneak down in to the box seats while the usher wasn't looking. So if there was a weekend doubleheader, I could catch four games for $4, plus food or drinks. From the Steelers, it had to be Terry Bradshaw, Joe Green, and Jack Lambert.

WIS

Build your all-time dream hockey team:

Chuckinrlp

Andy Bathgate on right wing, and I'm going to move Mario Lemieux to the left wing (hey, it's my interview, I can do what I want! LOL!) with Sidney Crosby at center. Bobby Orr at one point, with Larry Robinson on the other (What a power play!). In the nets, I'm going with my heart and starting Les Binkley.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

Either get rid of the instigator penalty and leave the game the way it is now, or make the punishment for the cheap shots that are happening more severe. I feel the players are losing respect for one another and that's why you see some of the dirtier things that happen. If you had an enforcer policing and protecting your star players, there may be some prior thought before the cheap shots take place with the instigator penalty removed. If not, then suspend the player doing the "dirty deed" for the same length of time that the player he injured is out, plus one game. Not only that, do not allow the team with the suspended player to dress someone else to take his spot. Make them skate each game with one less player on their roster. I feel that would definitely discourage one player from taking advantage of another.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

Chuckinrlp

I've been blessed with many to choose from, but two stand out. My first NHL game, I was 8 years old, and Andy Bathgate skated over to me, talked to me briefly during the warm-ups, shook my hand, and reached down and handed me a puck. That is how I got hooked on hockey (thanks Andy!). My second is going to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the North Stars when the Pens won their 1st cup in 1991. My dad had passed away in the fall of 1990, and he never got a chance to see the Pens skate with the cup. I had made myself a promise that I was going to a game in the finals, and I bought 2 tickets from a scalper for $750. I cried most of the first period, just wishing he could have been there with me. And when the Pens raised the cup for the first time in Bloomington, MN a few nights later, I cried again that he wasn't with me to share in the joy of ridding ourselves of years of losing, bankruptcies, and possible relocations.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

Chuckinrlp

I'm proud of the fact that every team I've had in the hockey sim has made the playoffs so far, and that I'm in the top 10 in all-time winning percentage; but I guess, like everyone else, the first cup will always be special. I beat nickneely in the semi's, and I won the cup in 7 games. Even though #1 is special, I enjoy every one just as much since I like to block out the scores and scroll down and read the play by play.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

I loved Danny Murtaugh and Chuck Tanner of the Pirates, and of course Chuck Noll of the Steelers. My favorite Penguins coaches have been Badger Bob Johnson (editor's note: It is a great day for hockey.), Marc Boileau, Red Kelly, Red Sullivan, and Herb Brooks.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

You don't need to be a math wizard or good at statistics to be able to assemble a competitive team.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

I personally like to build from the goal out. A decent goalie who played in the majority of his teams games, with high rated defensemen in front of him. If it is a high cap, I'll overpay for assists from my defensemen. If not, I go for low points and high defensive ratings. For my forward lines, lately I've been sacrificing some defense for more offense. I like to put a high shooting % guy with a high goals per game average on at least 3 lines (4 if it is a higher cap league), and put one or two good defensive players on the line with him, preferably players with low shots and high shooting % or with some assists. For me, the most important thing to keep in mind while drafting is games played %. If most of your players played a high % of games, why spend a lot of money on backups when you'll probably never need them?

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

Prior to this last update, no cup winning team of mine was missing Doug Jarvis or the standard 3 defensemen: Alex Smith, Al Arbour, and Ted Harris. In goal was almost always Terry Sawchuk. After the update, I'm having success with Martin Brodeur and Grant Fuhr in goal, and The Rocket up front.

WIS

Are there any players that you feel consistently under or overachieve?

Chuckinrlp

It's funny how players won't work for some owners and excel for others. Warren Young, Dominic Hasek, and Steve Shutt don't usually work well for me, while other high priced superstars such as Jari Kurri, Mike Bossy, Bobby Orr and George Hainesworth are hit or miss. For overachievers, I almost always get a ton of assists out of Doug Jarvis (he's a great winger on a line with Joe Malone). Grant Fuhr, at less than $2 million, is almost always at the top of the leader board in most goaltending categories for me also.

WIS

How do you go about setting your lines?

Chuckinrlp

Other than what was listed above, I set my lines according to whom I'm playing. You kind of get to know the other owners and I enjoy trying to outthink them by adjusting my lines and settings. I may go all conservative, all medium, or a mix. I may even use a line on aggressive just to see if it will work against a low scoring opponent who has a low gaa.

WIS

Do you make transactions during the season? Why or why not?

Chuckinrlp

Yes. I tweak my lines and settings whenever necessary. To me, the most important statistic is +/-. If I have a player that isn't doing well, I'll shuffle them with another player from another line. If that doesn't turn him around, I'll try to make a trade with another player, thinking that a change of scenery will help each player out while avoiding those dreaded ww fees. If I can't trade him and I need to hit the ww, I'll waive any extra players I won't think I'll use, and use the extra $ to offset the ww fees. I don't make many call-ups during the season, since I tend to draft high games played players and I try to spend as little as I can on back-ups, so they wouldn't be much help.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

If I listed all the owners I respected, I'm sure I'd forget someone and I don't want to do that. I do try to follow in their steps however, and I will help anyone who asks for it, just as they helped me while starting out. Personally, I think hockey fans are the nicest and most fiercely loyal fans out of any sport today. The owners in the hockey sim prove that. You couldn't ask for a nicer group of people to be associated with. As far as owners who challenge me the most, jakyll has run over me quite a few times on the way to his many cups, and cso_gunner (s'up, ya bum?) and I have developed quite a friendly rivalry. He's trounced me each of the 3 times we've met in the finals. I told him I'm reminded of that Snickers Commercial with Marc Levy, then coach of the Buffalo Bills, who tells his team after their latest Super Bowl loss, that "We're not leaving here until we figure out a way to beat those guys and win this thing!" (Not going anywhere for a while??? Have a Snickers!)

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague hockey?

Chuckinrlp

Being able to control a team of players you've grown up watching, and seeing "what if". It is a welcome distraction during my long work week, relishing each victory and dying with each loss. As I scroll down through the play-by-play, I can hear Mike Lange, voice of the Penguins, with the call, which is why you'll find many of my teams named after his goal calls.

WIS

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

Chuckinrlp

The first thing I'd do is to make assists count for something, since the snipers couldn't score many goals in real life if they didn't get the puck. I would somehow enhance their scoring opportunities if paired with a high assist man. Secondly, a hockey dynasty is something I think the entire sim hockey community is waiting for. The last tweak I'd make is for player shadowing. There seems to be a delay in when the shadowing player takes the ice to shadow his targeted opponent. Otherwise, there's always going to be someone who feels this or that needs to be done better. I think it's a great site, so keep up the good work!

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, how much would you cost?

Chuckinrlp

I'd never get through a 162 game baseball schedule with my recent history of injuries, so I'll go back to my past when I played goal for our street hockey team (there were no ice hockey teams in my area growing up). We won most of our games, including the York County Championship while I was in college. I had a quick glove hand and quick reflexes and my save % was high, but my GAA was also high since our offense was great but our defense was poor. I'd be a 70 games played out of 82 with a save % of 90.75 and cost $4,962,387.

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