Another week, another franchise sale, another new owner in the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League.
Sonia Klisz has joined the exclusive group of 31 franchise owners by purchasing the Vengeance franchise for $1,000 CAD. That franchise had been operated and funded by the league in recent months after the original owner failed to follow through on payment. The league hired Jarred Hinger as interim general manager in August but he will now be a free agent, released from that role as part of this ownership transition.
Sonia was recruited to the UFHL by Colin Mills, who is serving as general manager for the Yetis franchise that boasts Connor McDavid as the ultimate franchise player on a star-studded lineup.
The Vengeance franchise features a balanced roster led by veteran forwards Claude Giroux, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Pavelski and James Neal, with a younger defence including Seth Jones, Jonas Brodin and Erik Cernak, along with Mattias Ekholm and Erik Johnson, plus a solid goaltending tandem of Matt Murray and Devan Dubnyk. There are also budding talents like Anthony Beauvillier, Jack Roslovic and Pavel Zacha providing youth for the future.
Sonia knows her hockey — as you’ll get to know in a moment — but her first order of business will be focusing on the brand.
“I, myself, am not a vengeful person and want a brand that better represents my personality, especially because I view this as a long-term investment,” said Klisz, a 31-year-old yoga teacher from Ontario who becomes the fourth female franchise owner in the UFHL — and that isn’t counting the inaugural Klein Cup playoff champion Ashley Murray, who sold high on her franchise at $2,000 CAD following her crowning moment.
Murray, the daughter in law of Tampa Bay Lightning assistant general manager Al Murray, was among the many original owners who bought in for around $200 USD and have seen their franchise values soar tenfold within the first year.
Sonia was able to land Vengeance at something of a bargain because the protected list investment has yet to occur for her franchise, with Sam Colangelo as the lone prospect at the time of purchase, while other franchises have sold for double with nearly full 27-man protected lists. Those prospects cost a minimum of $25 USD from scouts, if not acquired through trades.
Sonia’s favourite NHL player is Patrick Kane and she was a fan of Wayne Gretzky, Darcy Tucker and Cujo (goaltender Curtis Joseph) from the past. So it’s not surprising that her favourite NHL teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks.
The rest of Sonia’s story — on how she became a hockey fan and her experiences in the hockey world thus far — is best told through her own words.
“Growing up as a Polish immigrant in Canada, I wasn’t exposed to the world of hockey until I entered the dating scene, which is how my love affair with this sport began,” she recalled. “My first boyfriend was a Habs fan while the second preferred the Leafs. Though they were on notoriously opposing sides of hockey fandom, they had one thing in common (besides their love for me) — an obsession with hockey and the desire to watch nothing else. I had no choice but to adapt, and in doing so I learned about a whole world that I would have never explored alone.
“As more of a ‘student of human dynamics’ than a sports fan, I was more interested in the backstory of hockey — trades, drafts, contract negotiations, hirings, firings, and the like. I’ll admit, I’d be more happy to watch literally any episode of ‘30 for 30’ than an actual sports game, but does that make me any less qualified to own a team in this league? I say nay.
“If I had to choose a favourite team, it would have to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, because following this team’s infamous highs and lows throughout the 2010s has taught me more about ‘acceptance’ than years of diligent meditation practice. If I had to choose a favourite player, it would be Patrick Kane, because I developed a small crush on him while watching the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. My feelings didn’t make sense to me, because I could barely even see his pretty blue eyes through all that hockey gear. Maybe it was the way he moved so seamlessly on the ice, or that he seemed so humble despite his exceptional talent? Who knows, the heart wants what it wants.
“My favourite hockey memory was attending the 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto, which featured Mats Sundin, Pavel Bure and Joe Sakic. I remember shedding a tear during several video montages and Bure’s speech, though I can’t recall why (maybe I had too much ‘Wayne Gretzky Estates Merlot’). Either way, it was a night to remember, and somewhere out there is a lost iPhone 5 which contains a photo of me standing next to a very red-faced Brian Burke.”
There is more to that story, no doubt — a cliffhanger for another day, maybe over more merlot or once Sonia is more settled in the UFHL. In the meantime, it’s evident that Sonia has found her new hockey happy place and that she’ll fit in just fine.
“I am used to standing out as a ‘black sheep’ (so to speak) and I look forward to adding a different element to this fantasy hockey world,” said Klisz. “Luckily, I am surrounded with some great hockey minds that can get me up to speed on the sport and help me begin this journey.”
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.
Vengeance became the fifth franchise to sell since Oct. 19, with the three previous franchises — Power Players, Monarchs and Elite Assassins — all commanding $2K CAD for contending rosters. That seems to be the going rate for franchises that are in good shape on paper, including their protected list.
The Tornadoes franchise is presently for sale and the UFHL will be welcoming a 32nd franchise in 2021 — mirroring the Seattle expansion process in the NHL. That franchise auction will likely 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 launch on the Zilliqa blockchain this winter (projected for mid-January), 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. Exciting times ahead!
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