Rob Conte went down a rabbit hole and came out with a Sea Bass — reeling in the Chilean Sea Bass as the latest franchise sale for the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League.
Conte and his Toronto-based partners, Paul Ceccomancini and Nelson Martins, formed the Gumpa Sports & Entertainment (GSE) group that purchased the Chilean Sea Bass from Hernan Salas for $1,500 USD on Christmas Day. They also purchased a UFAHL franchise in that recent auction and founded a scouting service as well to go all-in on the UFF Sports platform as it exists today.
“For me, it could have all started last summer with the UFHL. I received a DM on Twitter asking if I had interest in joining a new revolutionary fantasy hockey experience. The timing just wasn’t right, I had a lot going on and couldn’t give it the consideration it required,” said Conte, a 46-year-old letter carrier by day and realtor by night (and weekends).
“Fast forward to late November 2020, and after seeing new franchises unveiling logos and jerseys, and franchises selling to new owners, I clicked a link that brought me to the Two Minute Tuesday clip (on YouTube), and from there I went down a rabbit hole of UFHL content,” Conte continued. “I reached out for information and sent a DM to Donny (Defenders owner) on Twitter, who invited me to the Telegram chat. Everyone was so nice and willing to answer whatever questions I had, and I just knew I wanted to become part of the group. I was hooked!
“I spoke with my very close friends about it, and we decided the newly launched UFAHL was a great way to get involved, and were lucky to be part of the inaugural franchise auction. We started sending messages to existing UFHL franchises and asking if they would consider selling, and we are super ecstatic to have come to an agreement with Hernan of the Chilean Sea Bass. Our group knew we needed to cover all our bases, so we registered our scouting service. It’s official, we have arrived!”
Indeed, and they came prepared — with plans already in place to rebrand as the Godfathers in the UFHL, to go along with the Enforcers in the UFAHL and the Wise Guys Prospects scouting service. It’s a neat mafia theme, but it’s more than that too.
“Gumpa is a nickname we’ve had for each other for years. It’s a play on Godfather. In real life, we’re Godfathers to each other’s kids,” said Martins, also 46 and a self-employed investor.
“We are three longtime friends looking for a new challenge, intrigued by the new philosophy and entity that was created in the UFFS,” added Ceccomancini, a 44-year-old operations manager. “The ability to create and control a pipeline to your pro franchise is the draw and ultimate goal. Our current roster will be an obvious challenge, but we are confident in our abilities to build a perennial contender.”
That work began immediately, with Wise Guys signing Lukas Rousek and Joel Teasdale as their first two prospects from the Open Market. They also own the rights to T.J. Tynan as their franchise player for the UFAHL Enforcers. Now that the cat is out of the bag, Conte will get his hands on the UFHL Godfathers as the franchise owner and general manager.
“I love the idea of building a team, and having to consider contracts and addressing needs, with an eye to scouting up-and-coming talent to feed the roster and protected list,” said Conte. “With our group having acquired franchises in the UFHL and UFAHL as well as starting a scouting service, we feel we are able to work together to scout talent, and use the UFAHL franchise to hopefully feed into the big league roster, and handle it all in house.”
Ceccomancini will serve as Conte’s right-hand man with the title of assistant GM for the Godfathers, while also overseeing the Enforcers as GM for their UFAHL franchise. Martins will head up Wise Guys Prospects as director of player development and will also contribute in an assistant GM capacity.
“I am very intrigued by the scouting and development of a prospect through the system all the way to the pro game — be it UFAHL or the UFHL,” said Martins.
“We will all have input on the day-to-day activities of our entire operation,” assured Conte.
That includes the branding aspects, with the unveiling of their tentative logos and creation of their Twitter account (@GodfathersHc). Colour schemes and jersey designs will soon follow.
Clearly, they came to play — already appearing ahead of the game. The branding will keep them busy in the coming weeks, but their primary focus will be on the rosters and fantasy gameplay, with hopes of hoisting the Klein Cup in the years to come.
“Our roster has some very nice pieces that we feel can be building blocks for us going forward,” said Conte. “(Mikko) Rantanen is a beast! We like our vets like (Jordan) Eberle and (Paul) Stastny. Some good young contributors like (Adrian) Kempe, (Brandon) Montour and (Travis) Sanheim too. We have a long way to go, but we like where we are starting from.”
Martins echoed those sentiments, also maintaining an optimistic outlook despite taking over a franchise that was voted No. 28 in the preseason Power Rankings from Dec. 1.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us, but we’re not too disappointed to have a top-10 player that is under 24 years old (in Rantanen). It’ll take some time for us to understand the value of players under the UFHL’s scoring system, but we’re up for the challenge.”
Overall, they are just grateful to be in the fold among the early adopters and embracing the experience. Forging friendships and working relationships with their newfound peers and rivals topped the list when asked what they are looking forward to.
“I am very interested in being part of what appears to be a great group of people brought together to celebrate the greatest sport in the world!” said Conte. “We look forward to getting to know everyone in the ever-expanding UFF Sports world.”
“We look forward to meeting and dealing with everyone,” added Ceccomancini. “Thank you for the opportunity.”
This opportunity came thanks to Salas, who reluctantly sold the Sea Bass franchise before ever debuting in the UFHL but not without turning a significant profit — netting $3,515 USD ($4,521 CAD) over a mere six months of ownership.
Salas, from Edmonton and of Chilean descent, joined the UFHL for the July redraft just as things were taking off. He got in for a $200 USD franchise fee — drafting the likes of Timo Meier, Sean Couturier and Viktor Arvidsson — and further invested $450 USD through a $200 annual entry fee, plus $200 in cash considerations as part of the package to acquire Rantanen in exchange for Meier, and $50 for a pair of prospects from the inaugural entry auction (William Wallinder and Will Cuylle). His expenses totalled $650 USD.
His profits grossed $4,165 USD ($5,346 CAD), with the following breakdown: $1,200 USD for 80 per cent of this franchise sale, $500 CAD ($375 USD) for 2020 1st Round Pick (4th overall), $300 CAD ($224 USD) as cash considerations in trading Arvidsson, $400 CAD ($304 USD) as cash considerations in trading Nolan Foote, $650 CAD ($502 USD) as cash considerations in trading Couturier, and a whopping $1,560 USD for this franchise’s 2021 and 2022 1st Round Picks in a blockbuster from earlier this month on Dec. 9.
Owning the Sea Bass proved to be a short-but-sweet investment for Salas, resulting in a bittersweet departure that brought about mixed emotions.
“Truthfully, it sucks not playing a game as I felt I made some solid moves,” said Salas, who cited time commitments — producing a radio show and three podcasts — that prevented him from being as involved as other franchise owners. “I really didn’t want to sell, but this was the sixth offer, so after thinking about it for a few days, I thought it was best for both sides. It’s a great league but I couldn’t commit and you guys deserve better. I’m good with the decision and wish you guys all the best going forward.”
There have been 10 franchise sales since mid-October following the inaugural UFHL playoffs and Entry Auction. Turnover will be inevitable in the early years as the UFF Sports platform emerges as a leader in the fantasy industry for its unique appeal of digital asset ownership on the blockchain.
The UFHL will be welcoming a 32nd franchise in 2021 — mirroring the Seattle expansion process in the NHL. That franchise auction will start in January and end in March on the same date that Seattle makes its final payment to officially join the NHL. The UFHL’s expansion draft will also take place on the same date as the NHL under the same rules, so that franchise promises to be in high demand with the newest owner getting the full expansion experience.
Worth noting, once UFF Sports and the UFHL transition to the Zilliqa blockchain this winter, the existing 31 franchises will all technically be for sale at all times. The current owners will be able to list their franchise for a set price on the sale block but outsiders will also be able to submit offers in the form of bids on any franchise at any time.
As for the Gumpa group, here is a preview of their Meet the Owners profile:
Franchise Name: Godfathers HC
Status: Purchased Chilean Sea Bass on Dec. 25, 2020 for $1,500 USD
Owner/GM: Rob Conte
Asst. GM/Director of Scouting: Nelson Martins
Asst. GM/UFAHL GM: Paul Ceccomancini
Rob - 46
Nelson - 46
Paul - 44
Rob - Letter Carrier by day, Realtor by night (and weekends) and Co-Owner of GSE
(Gumpa Sports & Entertainment)
Nelson - Self Employed, Investor
Paul - Operations Manager
Current Town: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Favourite NHL Teams:
Rob - Toronto Maple Leafs
Nelson - Toronto Maple Leafs
Paul - Montreal Canadiens
Favourite NHL Players Past:
Rob - Steve Yzerman, Doug Gilmour, Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Curtis Joseph, Pavel Datsyuk, Peter Forsberg
Nelson - Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom
Paul - Mats Naslund, Larry Robinson, Patrick Roy
Favourite NHL Players Present:
Rob - Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Sidney Crosby, Nikita Kucherov, Connor McDavid, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Nelson - Mitch Marner
Paul - Carey Price
Bio: Our group is known as Gumpa Sports & Entertainment (GSE). It is made up of the following properties:
UFHL Franchise: Godfathers HC, email@example.com
UFAHL Franchise: Enforcers HC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scouting Service: Wise Guys Prospects, email@example.com
Follow the Godfathers on Twitter: @GodfathersHc
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