We asked the SimLeague Hockey community to nominate one of their own for a User Interview, and bb_icetime was the popular choice. He takes questions from both WhatIfSports.com and his fellow SimLeague Hockey players.
bb_icetime SimLeague Hockey Overall Records
|Game||Seasons||Record||Playoff Appearances||Finals Appearances||Stanley Cups|
|SimLeague Hockey||490||22,452-19,537 (53.5%)||390||66||28|
WIS: Who is bb_icetime?
bb_icetime: I'm the brooding sort, with a dark past. A mystery. The kind of guy that others want to be and women want to be with.
I'm just a regular guy, happily married with three kids. I'm a Treasury manager for a large non-profit research company and I live in the Raleigh, North Carolina area.
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
bb_icetime: Well, go back to 2004 and I was playing several rotisserie and fantasy hockey leagues on public online sites. It was getting towards the end of the season and I didn't really want to stop (I was winning most of the leagues I was in!), so I started looking around the internet for other leagues and came across WhatIfSports and thought I'd give it a try. Signed up for a franchise league, was the Hartford Whalers, and have been here ever since. By the way, that first team did not do so well. This was during Version 1 of the sim and I was playing against a lot of teams using the Rambo glitch at the time, but I asked a lot of questions and learned a lot. My next team was much better.
WIS: Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?
bb_icetime: Well, I have a lot of interests, however, with three kids, their activities keep my wife and I quite busy. Between Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, band, soccer, hockey, softball and the many clubs my eldest is in, we are constantly on the go. Doesn't leave much time for other things. I do read a lot though. One thing that you may find interesting is that I am completely infatuated with the whole Kennedy assassination. I've read many books on the subject, including the Warren report. I don't know why it fascinates me so much, perhaps it's just the incredulousness of it all, but it seems that I cannot get enough of the subject. As for what I think, well, to quote Jim Garrison from the movie JFK, "Back and to the left... Back and to the left....Back and to the left."
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
bb_icetime: Of course I would want Lee Harvey Oswald on any roundtable. He is the key to everything and I would want to know what he knew.
I would like my grandfather, who passed away when I was really young. I would fill out the rest of the roundtable with General George S. Patton, Richard Nixon and Robert Kennedy.
WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?
bb_icetime: Yes, I played basketball and baseball and wrestling. Was State Champ my junior and senior years, although it was Arkansas and there wasn't any real formal wrestling structure. There were about 35 clubs throughout the state and only two school-supported teams. I did go to a couple of summer camps at the Oklahoma State and was even asked to enroll there and try out for the wrestling team there. But I was set on going to the University of Arkansas so I didn't go.
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
bb_icetime: Well anyone who has been around here for some length of time would know that my favorite player is Stan Mikita, especially after my campaign to get his 1966-67 season back in the database after it disappeared after the last upgrade. When I was about six and my family was still in the Chicago area, my dad had a barber shop on Grand Avenue. At the corner was a Vienna Hotdog stand. One Saturday, my dad had me go the stand to get some hotdogs for the guys. I walked down the street to the stand and when I got there, Stan Mikita was there! He gave me a signed picture and I ran back to the barbershop to show my Dad. Forgot the hotdogs.
Other than Stosh, I also loved Bobby Hull growing up. I was heartbroken when he left the Blackhawks. My other favorite at the time was Bobby Orr, who I still feel is the best ever. Other all-time favorites of mine are Joe Sakic and Ray Bourque.
WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
bb_icetime: I've been pretty fortunate so far in that I've gotten to see most of what would be on my wish list. I've been to the Olympics and was there for the gold medal game in 2002. I worked part-time for the Carolina Hurricanes and was there for Game 7 in 2006 and got to see them raise the cup. I even received a Stanley Cup ring that the Canes presented to their staff. I've been to a NHL draft and went to the All Star game last year. Other than being in Chicago for a Stanley Cup clinching game for the Blackhawks, the only thing left would be to see my son get drafted. I would also like to see the Cubs win the World Series, but I think there is a better chance of my son getting drafted than the Cubs winning the World Series.
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
bb_icetime: I would say that I have three moments that meant the most to me. The first was my first cup. It was with my seventh team and was with a Boston Bruins team in a franchise league. Cam Neely was unstoppable!
My second was my 25th Cup. When I started, that was the number to get to so I set my goal to win than many.
And my last would be to finally win a Stanley Cup with Stan Mikita on my team.
WIS: Build your all-time hockey dream team.
bb_icetime: Of course, any all-time team of mine would include Stosh, however I would slot him on the right wing. Even though he is most commonly listed as a center, he did play a lot on right wing, so by slotting Stan Mikita on RW, it allows me to put Joe Sakic at center. There can only be one person for left wing, Bobby Hull.
For my defense, I will go to Boston and pick up Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque.
As for goalie, I loved Tony-O when I was a kid and I think Roy is the best all-time, but for my team I'm going to stay current and select the hometown boy Cam Ward. Because he plays in Carolina, he goes mostly overlooked and I don't think people realize just how good he is.
WIS: What are some of your favorite theme league formats?
bb_icetime: I like leagues that require the use of different players, especially those players that don't fit into the typical team setup that is the standard today. I remember back in the day, there were a ton of themes that would require a lot of thought. There were various letter leagues and number leagues where you had to draft players based on a random set of letters or numbers. I remember this one running theme where there were 24 questions and you would draft your players based on the answers to the questions. Themes like this were fun, they were creative and challenging. They made you think. The real fun was in drafting the teams for these leagues and we would spend hours drafting and re-drafting our teams. There was a group of us, the Sapheads, that would join, en masse, these themes. To get the "Saphead Seal of Approval" on your theme meant that it was fun and challenging and would no doubt fill quickly.
Theme leagues used to drive the hockey sim. It's where everybody played and it was a challenge to come up with a new and creative theme. Nowadays, it's all about how much you can spend and getting the highest dollar players.
And it is high cap leagues that are, I believe, a key factor in the decline in theme leagues in particular and the hockey sim in general. Allowing large or unlimited caps has made a whole generation of players from the late 1940s to the early 1970s completely obsolete. Nobody wants to use them. gollum even tried to start a theme using these players only and even he couldn't get enough interest to get the theme up and running. It's because they don't work in the high cap leagues. Allowing high caps has allowed the use of Gretzky AND Lemieux AND Bossy AND Orr all on the same team. It allows for the best and highest priced seasons of all players to be used on the same team. I understand why high cap leagues came into being. It's because people wanted to be able to play Gretzky and Orr together, but I think an unfortunate side effect was that it killed creativity and uniqueness of themes, the very essence of what made them so popular. If you can use Gretzky and Orr in a high cap league, why go back to lower cap league where you can't? As a result, creativity and uniqueness died. After all, how creative can you be if your cap allows all the best seasons? It's why today we only have a couple of themes in the classifieds and they take forever to fill. And in the end, I think it's this lack of themes that drove away a lot of long time veterans of the hockey sim.
gollum: Who and what is a Saphead?
bb_icetime: If you go back to a time when gollum was just AS old as dirt, not older, there was a group of us that always joined many of the same themes together, including the ones we were starting. The initial group, I believe, consisted of gollum, myself, cpetsche, SAKABAKBRG, bigbuzz, booman, slatz, smeric and logain, with later additions of ntbaer, kobo and bradpark22. (My apologies to those that I've missed) The term "Saphead" was frequently used by the late Mr. Gollum (gollum's father) as a term of endearment. It went on to become our group's namesake as a tribute to Mike's dad. I believe the only requirement of entry into the club was a liking for unique and creative themes and being able to take unique and creative verbal potshots at gollum! I've gotten to know these guys fairly well over the course my eight years here. Unfortunately, most of the original Sapheads have left the sim, but I'm still in touch with many via other social media avenues.
WIS: What is your general strategy for building SimLeague Hockey teams? What is the most important thing to keep in mind while drafting?
bb_icetime: I may not be the best person to give advice on building teams as, outside of gollum's BALD league (Below Average Minor League Dynasty), I've pretty much given up on trying to win Cups. It's not that I would not be capable but rather that it holds no challenge. The sim is very predictable and building a team to win a cup is very formulaic, very...boring. Of course I want to win cups, it's just not a priority for me anymore when building a team.
However, if someone is looking for advice, it's pretty simple. Put your lines together with a goal scorer, point producer/assist generator, and a low cost, high D forward. Defensemen should be high D, low cost, low point producers and perhaps one offensive D man. Check out the teams in the Top 25 for examples and try to emulate them.
WIS: Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your team?
bb_icetime: Unless prohibited by league rules, I will always have Stan Mikita on any team I make. In addition, I like to have Bobby Hull, Duncan Keith and I've been using Cam Ward as my goalie a lot recently. If you are trying to win cups however, these may not be the best players to have on your team. As I said earlier, building teams to win cups is not my priority anymore. I tend to build my teams based on my favorite players and personal whims. Typically I will draft by line and will generally keep them together for the season. Since most of these teams don't fit into the formulaic template of winning teams, they tend not do very well at times.
WIS: Are there any players that you feel consistently underachieve or overachieve?
bb_icetime: All the high shot, low shooting percentage guys underachieve. Players like Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr always seem to underperform for me.
I did this experiment once when I built a team with all high shots guys. Each forward line averaged over 15 shots per game and the defensive pairs averaged over eight shots per game. Every combination of forwards and defensemen average over 20 shots per game. The team as a whole averaged 85 shots per game! I started each line at aggressive for 20 games and then went to medium, then conservative and finally to checking. I started the defensemen at no restrictions for 10 games then at "let forwards take majority" for another 10 before changing the forward lines. The idea for the team was to create a ton of shots per game, and thus goals, and I wanted to see how close they would come to their averages. What I got was disappointing to say the least. First of all, even though my forward lines held more than a 2-to-1 advantage in shots per game, the defensemen ended up out-shooting the forwards, with the biggest discrepancy being when the forward lines were on aggressive. In fact, things were so bad on aggressive that the team averaged only 11 shots per game on the aggressive setting. That's only 13 percent of real life numbers! The most shots I averaged were when my lines were set on checking, where they averaged 28 shots per game, or 33 percent of real life numbers. Anyway, the results were much less than expected and the team itself didn't fair very well.
Other players that are underachievers are the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s players. They just don't have the stats to work in the sim the way it is currently set up and that's a shame because these are some of the league's greatest players ever.
WIS: How do you go about setting your lines?
bb_icetime: Well it's pretty obvious from my experiment above that aggressive doesn't work. My teams tend to get less shots per game, and less goals, when set on aggressive. I tend to stick with conservative and checking for the most parts, but will throw in a line at medium at times. Basically it depends on how the line is fairing. If the line is a minus, then I will fiddle with the setting to see what works the best.
WIS: Do you make transactions during the season? Why or why not?
bb_icetime: No. I despise trades and the wavier wire. I build my teams by lines and players that I want, so there is no need for me to change players. These are the players that I chose for this team. If they don't work, then I will try something else next time. I hate it when a league just starts and people are already making trades and 10 games in someone has already traded away half their team. If you didn't want the team as you drafted, then don't draft it that way!
WIS: How much time do you spend on your SimLeague Hockey teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
bb_icetime: I don't spend near as much as I used to. Most of my time is spent on the drafting. I pretty much draft the team that I want and then basically let it go once the league starts. I will follow the results and make minor adjustments as needed to keep the team winning or try to change the fortune of a team that is not doing so well.
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
bb_icetime: My piece of advice would be to decide on what you want out of the site. If you want to win cups, then stick to the formula and emulate those that win. Otherwise, don't take it too seriously. There are some really great guys here, so enjoy the camaraderie, lighten up and have some fun.
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Hockey?
bb_icetime: Right now I would say the camaraderie with some of the friends that I've made on the site. As for the game itself, I really enjoy gollum's BALD league. It is by far the most unique and interesting theme going today.
WIS: Least favorite?
bb_icetime: Unfortunately, I would say the game itself. The hockey sim has gotten very stale and the engine needs a complete overhaul to breathe new life into SLH.
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
bb_icetime: Well, I know there is a large clamoring for a Hockey Dynasty. I would like to see it too, but I think the bigger need is a complete overhaul of the sim engine and the database itself. I think it's been nearly four years since the last overhaul and it is way overdue.
I don't think the assist guys are as effective as they should be. They are better than they were in the past, but I still think it needs work. I think something needs to be done about the line settings as well. There is no way that a lineup that averages 85 shots a game in real life should average 11 shots on an aggressive setting. No way. And I don't care what the defensive ratings for the other teams are, they should at least be able to average half of that. Goalies need some work as well. It's better than the past version where save percentage ruled, but still needs some tweaking. Also, we need to fix how the defensive rankings work in the sim. They shouldn't be able to completely shut down the offensive guys. Again, Esposito shouldn't be able to average seven shots a game, but neither should he only average one.
Speaking of defense ratings, I think the whole way player ratings are determined should be revamped. There is no way Dan Hamius should be higher than Bobby Orr or Larry Robinson. It's ridiculous how high these ratings are for the defensemen for the last couple of seasons. And there is the whole generation of stars from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that are useless because their shooting percentage and defensive ratings are too low. I know in the last update we revamped the ratings and shooting percentages (remember the 12.5 percent shooting percentage for all the old-timers!), but I think we need to do that again. These are great players and they should be viable options.
In general, I feel a major overhaul of the engine itself and the database is desperately needed before Hockey Dynasty is brought online. I know it is probably not the popular choice, but I think it would be the best thing for SLH right now. Upgrade the engine, create a buzz and excitement about the new engine, then bring Hockey Dynasty online.
hockey1984: When the hockey dynasty comes out what do you feel are the most important aspects to include?
bb_icetime: Well, that is a tough question because I really don't know. I'm not familiar at all with any of the other dynasties so I don't know what they are all about. Off the top of my head though, I would hope that it would include at least an AHL-type of minor league system for each franchise. Also, I think it would be cool if you had to also develop a fan base and make the team financially viable as well as win games.
hockey1984: What is your opinion on trading future draft picks for players when Hockey dynasty comes out.
bb_icetime: I think trading picks for players would be OK as long as there are safeguards against teams being gutted of picks and players and then being abandoned. I know in gollum's BALD league that has been an issue in the past, so as long as there would be a way to keep that from happening, then I suppose I would be all right with trading of future picks for players.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
bb_icetime: Well, first there are the Sapheads, gollum, SAKABAKBRG, cpetsche, bradpark22, logain, smeric and all the others that are no longer playing WIFS but are still friends. These are the guys that I've been friends with the longest and are good and decent people and who I most enjoy playing with here.
Then there are others like damag, steveajolie, chuckinrlp, god_mike, Kiteport and demon_8 that are pretty good guys as well. I don't know them as well as the Sapheads, but I enjoy being in leagues with them and try to support any leagues they may start.
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
bb_icetime: That's easy, I would be Alex Smith, defensemen. I used to play up until recently in the local roller and deck leagues, but I had to give it up as both age and RA became too much to overcome anymore. Ahh, but when I played, I was a legend! I would dazzle you with my lack of foot speed, overwhelm you with the weakness of my shot, and surprise you with my complete lack of offensive talent! Actually, I was your typical stay-at-home defenseman. I was a steady player, not flashy but didn't make a lot of mistakes. I always seemed to be in the right place and make the right play.
WIS: Thanks to bb_icetime for your time and contributions to the SimLeague Hockey community. Also special thanks to all SLH players that provided interview nominations and questions.