Bio: I am a New Englander to the core. I grew up in Connecticut, I currently live in Massachusetts, I went to college in New Hampshire, I often ski in Vermont, I vacation in Maine and I often visit Rhode Island. I work in downtown Boston at a hospital and this COVID-19 outbreak has been tough. Deemed an essential worker from the start, I often would have to go into rooms with people that have the virus. Luckily, Massachusetts is one of the states that took the virus seriously and we are now flattening the curve and have much fewer cases. Other states that started to open up too soon are really struggling and need to get their shit together.
For fun, other than fantasy hockey, I am a bit of a movie and gaming freak. In normal times, I go to about 70-80 movies in the theater a year and my home collection is somewhere in the 700s now. I love watching them in the home theater that I have built, another passion of mine. I am a gamer geek and I love not just video games and Pokemon Go but also table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. I love to go to the beach in the summer and swim and go to the mountains in the winter and ski as New England has it all in close proximity.
Growing up just northwest of Hartford in the ’70s and ’80s, my father bought season tickets for the Whalers every year they were in Hartford and with that being the only pro sport in Connecticut at the time, it is not hard to see how my love for hockey and the Whalers developed. I often viewed the Whalers as an underdog. I knew Hartford was dwarfed by the bigger cities and fan bases of the Bruins and Rangers on either side of us, so a closeness developed between the Whalers’ fans and the team that is not seen in big markets. I literally jumped out of my seat with every goal and win and felt terrible after every loss. This was not just some game I went to on a random night, this was an event every game. Everything is important to a diehard fan — every pass, every missed power-play opportunity, every fight, every goal. As you can imagine, my heart was ripped out when Bettman decided he wanted his southeast division and he made a deal with Peter Karmanos to move the team. Do you know they had the rules of the game on the jumbotron at Hurricanes games? Did you also know, in the early days, they would give away a CAR to get people in NASCAR, NCAA basketball and football country to go to a game? Don’t get me started.
After that, I was a bit lost in my fandom. Who do I root for now? The Whalers left in 1997 and I graduated college in 1995, so I moved to Boston for a better job market and since no hockey team was keeping me there. You have to understand, being in such close geographic proximity to both Boston and New York, the Bruins and Rangers were bitter rivals of the Whalers. We often had fights in the stands in the sold-out games. It made it hard to become a Bruins fan since they were now the closest team to me. It took about 10 years until I could honestly call myself a Bruins fan, but I am now. The AHL moved the Rangers’ farm team to Hartford, so I also root for them. I enjoyed watching future Ranger stars — like Henrik Lundqvist — play in Hartford before making the big club. The 2006 Cup win by the Hurricanes was at best bittersweet. It will always be the Hartford/Carolina franchise, so I will have an interest in how they do, but I can’t say I am a big fan.
I got into fantasy hockey back in the mid-90s when a friend was the commish. Then after a few years, he gave up and I took over as commish and we have had a CBS-based league now since the early 2000s. I got invited to a few more leagues over the years and I am still in multiple leagues with pretty good success in all of them. Most are keeper leagues and I pride myself in being a very good scout of talent. I often have players that I drafted go from being prospects to full-time NHLers during each season and not just big names. One of the best draft picks I made was in the compensation round (the very last picks) — with the 84th pick of the draft, I took a player named Frederik Andersen. He ended up being a pretty good pick at 84th overall. Even if I don’t win money, that is nice though, I love everything about fantasy hockey. I love the competition, building a team, scouting for prospect talent, making in-season adjustments often daily, etc. I am very excited for the UFHL and the potential it holds. I am very glad I got in as an original owner and I can’t wait to see what is next!
QUESTION: First off, I’d like to extend a huge thank you on behalf of the entire Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League for all that you have done — and will continue to do — during COVID-19! Like the saying goes — not all heroes wear capes … or do you? Serious question Sean, how do you find any time for fantasy hockey — let alone multiple leagues? Doctor by day, movie buff by night, with a dash of Dungeons & Dragons … you lead a very busy life and you aren’t a single man either. Add it all up and I’m left wondering whether there are more than 24 hours in a day down in New England or do you just not sleep? However you pull it off, it’s mighty impressive, so please share your recipe for functioning success!
ANSWER: Well, just to clarify I am very busy in the hospital I work in and I do care for patients with the COVID-19 virus, but I am not a doctor. I am a technologist in the Neurology department, specializing in administering a test called an Electroencephalogram or EEG for short. I have been here for 3 years now but just prior to this I worked for 10 years the Children’s Hospital next door administering sleep studies as a Sleep Technologist and I got registered as an RPSGT or registered polysomnographic technologist — a polysomnogram is a sleep study. It is nice to not have to work nights and weekends anymore like I did as a sleep technologist. I appreciate the thanks for my work, it is a world-wide group effort and I also thank all the other front-line workers.
I will admit, some days it is hard to find time for all my hobbies, but I try to make time for ones that interest me the most like fantasy hockey. I am married, but I have no kids, so that frees up a lot of time that I am sure some dads do not have. Some hobbies get the focus sometimes while others take a backseat other times, but I am glad I have been able to continue to make it all work out.
QUESTION: I feel for you on losing your beloved Whalers. I couldn’t imagine bidding farewell to my favourite team — and then having to embrace the big bad Bruins or the ultra-rich Rangers. The struggle would be real, no doubt. But I saw you wearing that Whalers jersey during the UFHL Redraft and your Warriors certainly have a Whalers feel to them — in their colour scheme and jersey designs — so let’s go nostalgic with this one: What are your three favourite Whalers memories? That could be a live game you attended with your father, a trade or draft pick that the franchise made, or perhaps an off-ice encounter with a Whalers player — just three sentimental memories that stand out to you … and to enlighten those among us who were too young to remember much of the Whalers’ existence!
ANSWER: I would have to say the 1986-87 season is one that sticks out, as it was one of the most successful in team history. They won the Adams Division that season and honestly were a strong threat to win the Cup. The previous season (1985-86) ended on a sour note, losing in Game 7 overtime in the playoffs to a team and player I have hated ever since lol — Claude Lemieux of the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens then went on to win the Cup, not really getting tested anywhere near as much as they were against the Whalers. It is very possible had Game 7 gone our way, we would have won the Cup that year. That team was stacked and so fun to watch. If you look back at the names, you will see a who’s who of management and coaching in the past and current NHL and other leagues — Ron Francis, Joel Quenneville, Kevin Dineen, Dean Evason, John Anderson, Dave Tippett, Doug Jarvis, Mike Liut, Ulf Samuelsson, Steve Weeks and I am probably forgetting a few. It was so fun watching that team win.
My second memory is a trade that I will never forget or forgive, which was when the Whalers traded our best forward Ron Francis and one of our best defensemen Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings to Pittsburgh for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker. So yeah, we all know how that worked out. The Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups — that year of the trade 1991 and again in 1992 — and the Whalers were never the same and then were moved in 1997. Ever since that trade, then-Whaler GM Ed Johnston (also a Penguins GM) was booed very loudly every time he stepped on the ice by the Hartford faithful and he deserved it. One quick random memory before I say my third one is my season tickets were in the section where the seats are behind the other team’s penalty box. Our player Stu ‘The Grim Reaper’ Grimson was in our box for a penalty. His time ended and he was going out the door and some poor bastard must not have seen him and skated right into him. Stu, not two feet out of the box grabs the player by the shirt and connects four punches to his face right in front of our section, the player goes down and Stu goes right back in the box hahaha, it was great!
My third memory was when the NHL All-Star Game was in Hartford in 1986. My father had two season tickets, so he got two tickets to the All-Star Game but he has two sons. So, he did not know if he should take me or my older brother to the game. What he decided was, since I had better grades than my brother, he surprised me by showing up to my junior high school and pulling me out to go see them practice. I will never forget it, superstars everywhere. I tried to get an autograph from Wayne Gretzky, but he was in his prime and was mobbed by media and I couldn’t get near him. I did get one from Ray Bourque at the side of the ice, and I believe a few others at the practice. My father then took me to lunch at the restaurant inside the hotel all the players were staying in. I passed Phil Esposito in the hallway and got his autograph. Mark Howe was eating near us, but I didn’t want to bother him. An older gentleman was leaving and he saw me and wished me well and handed me a Canadiens pin. My dad told me that was Toe Blake. It was a day I will never forget, but the best part came as I was leaving and my dad said ‘that’s Mario Lemieux, go get his autograph’. Mario was with 4 or 5 other people and was heading to get on the elevator when I asked him. Mario reached up and stopped the elevator so he could sign his autograph for me and then got back on the elevator! I was so thrilled, what a day!
QUESTION: I know the Whalers’ departure has left you with a bittersweet attachment to the Hurricanes, but I see several current and former Carolina players on your Warriors’ roster. From Jordan Staal and Petr Mrazek to Noah Hanifin, Derek Ryan and Calvin de Haan — that’s a handful! Do you still have a soft spot for that franchise or is it more of a sore spot? You did get Filip Chytil as one of those up-and-coming Rangers who developed in Hartford. Brett Ritchie is a Bruin — splitting this season between Boston and the Baby Bs in Providence — and Anton Khudobin is also a former Bruin. It’s a nice mix of players from the NHL teams that you follow closest, so I assume you’re happy with your roster and how you fared in the UFHL Redraft — in terms of picking a few familiar faces?
ANSWER: It is interesting when you list them all like that and their links to those teams, especially Carolina. I have a passing interest in the Hurricanes as they will always be the Harford/Carolina franchise, but the Cup win in 2006 was at best bittersweet. I did love seeing fans in the stands with Whalers shirts on when they won though. The links are interesting but honestly not intentional. I went into the redraft with a master list based on research using our scoring system and I based my picks mostly on talent, salary, age and extended stat ability. For example, I probably had Staal and Cousins higher on my draft board than other owners because while they may not have had amazing offensive seasons, they both had great numbers in both shots on goal and hits.
As for Mrazek, I was all set to take Sergei Bobrovsky with my second pick when he was taken with literally the pick right before mine, so I went to the guy next on my board in Mrazek. Among the goalies available that I considered starters, Mrazek had the highest winning percentage among all of them just based on games played last season. He also is only 28, which is young for a goalie. So again, all about numbers — not really about what team he currently tends the twine for.
Hanifin I got because I love his age, talent and potential — and, again, he did not disappoint in the shots and hits categories. At only 23, even though he has had 5 full NHL seasons, he has not entered his fantasy prime yet. Ryan is a player taken with a later pick thinking he can add some depth scoring. De Haan I think would have had more offense if he had played a full season, but he makes up for his offense with shots and hits. Chytil is a player I probably noticed more due to playing in Hartford, but I really like his profile and his potential on a team looking to be on the rise. Ritchie was a bit up and down between leagues last year but, for the spot we drafted him, he had decent offense and he was impressive in all three of PIMS, shots and hits. As for Khudobin, if I couldn’t get a second starting goalie, I had him at the top of my ‘rest of’ goalie list as I feel he showed very well spelling Ben Bishop and it really was a two-headed monster in Dallas.
As you can see, I drafted based on many other things and where they played was one of the very last things considered — if considered at all. I just want players that can help the Warriors win, but it is a nice bonus that some of them play for or have ties to teams I follow.
QUESTION: Your Warriors had the second overall pick and selected Elias Pettersson behind Sidney Crosby. I loved that pick and the potential to build around a budding young star. You surrounded Pettersson with five quality veterans among your top-six forwards. Your top four on defence are real solid too — right in the prime of their careers — and that goaltending tandem should work out well. On paper, the Warriors could have made a run in this year’s Klein Cup playoffs — they appear built to win now — but I’m sure you’ll have individual players to cheer for coming out of the UFHL Playoff Draft. Do you like this unique and innovative playoff format — it is a rental system that keeps everyone involved and interested — where some of the Warriors will be helping other franchises chase a championship with the possibility of bringing earnings back home to New England? Or is that going to feel like watching the Hurricanes hoist the Stanley Cup with “your” players on another team?
ANSWER: I am pretty happy with my picks at the redraft. I loved getting Pettersson. At only 21, he has the ability to be a fantasy stud for the next 15 years. One thing that surprised me was I thought I would ice a younger team. I did not think I would pick that many veterans, but I also did not want all young guys that are all potential with little to no current high-end talent. I went with, from my draft board, what I thought the best pick was at that time and again I am happy with the results. It does not mean I might not make a few transactions before next season, but we will see how things progress for all my Warriors.
As far as the playoff format honestly, I like the idea, but it will take a full playoffs for me to give my full opinion. I am fine with my players playing on other rosters and possibly helping them and the Warriors of New England. I know that those players are Warrior contract players and that they will return as soon as the playoffs are over. It is an intriguing system and I look forward to watching my players in both playoffs and rooting for them.
QUESTION: On the bright side, by missing the playoffs, your chances of winning the Lafreniere Lottery doubled! The Warriors are now one of seven franchises with 2-to-1 odds for securing a top-five spot in the Entry Auction, which would ensure you are bidding on Alexis Lafreniere. The eight play-in round losers will round out the 15 franchises in that lottery. Have you been actively scouting this 2020 NHL draft class? What do you make of Lafreniere and the talent available in the top 15 — the top 15 since the Warriors are now guaranteed a top-15 auction spot? Are you also looking forward to the Already Drafted Auction — where you’ll be bidding on top prospects from recent NHL draft classes and starting to fill out your 27-man protected list? Do you have targets in mind or a favourite date that you are eyeing for that week-long auction — or do you have all those dates circled on your calendar?
ANSWER: I love scouting talent — both drafted and undrafted — so I will be pouring through it all soon, but to be honest I have not delved too deeply into it yet. I have heard this is one of the deepest drafts since possibly all the way back to the famous 2003 draft! That is exciting, especially when thinking how high my Warriors’ pick will be. I look forward to adding a significant piece of our team’s future from the 2020 draft. I have done some research on the already drafted players and I will do a lot more. I don’t have any strong opinions yet on Lafreniere or the rest of the top 15, but I am very optimistic. I have to get more familiar with how these auctions will all work — the bidding, the dates, all of that — but I will get it all squared away soon.
QUESTION: All in all, how are you enjoying the UFF Sports and UFHL experience thus far? Any early highlights — and, no, you don’t have to say the commentary from the UFHL Redraft host?!?! In all seriousness, what attracted you to this platform and what aspects or concepts do you like the most?
ANSWER: I just love fantasy hockey, so that is at the core of what interested me initially. Then when I learned teams will own the players and be able to build from young talent over time, that really hooked me. I tend to be an owner that is not afraid to build over the long term. I like having players I scouted, drafted/acquired, and watch them grow to be NHL players and fantasy contributors. Other aspects of the platform are very interesting and I can’t wait for all the fun parts of it in the coming months and over the first full season. I think there will be growing pains for a lot of owners but once we get the hang of it, this league has the potential to be really fun!
I love that this league mimics the NHL as closely as possible — it really feels like a real league. I love that we each have our own team logos and designed team jerseys that are marketable for real world profits potentially. The crypto currency I am very new at, so we will see how that goes, but again I like the potential to be getting in on something at the start. I love the videos on YouTube — the commentary and info is great. I even am officially on YouTube as I saw myself on camera at the redraft haha.
Also, so far all the admins have been amazing. Me and others have a ton of questions and none of them ever get annoyed at explaining something multiple times. They all are very nice people — polite, helpful, energetic and excited, which is infectious! I hope to be in this league a very long time and I wish us the best of success!
Anders Lee-Elias Pettersson-Blake Wheeler
Zach Parise-Jordan Staal-Alexander Radulov
Michael Rasmussen-Filip Chytil-Dylan Sikura
Nick Cousins-Derek Ryan-Brett Ritchie
Noah Hanifin-Ivan Provorov
Devon Toews-Jared Spurgeon
Calvin de Haan-Michael Stone
Extra Skaters: Christian Wolanin (D), Sebastian Aho (D), Antti Suomela (F)
Sean will always be Dr. Cosgrove in my eyes — kidding, my apologies on the career mix-up, but that doesn’t diminish his efforts during this pandemic. But thankfully we’re all talking hockey again these days — not COVID, with no positive tests inside the NHL’s bubble to date as the playoffs forge ahead.
Sean clearly has a love-hate relationship with the last name Lemieux. He’s not alone in his hatred of Claude Lemieux — one of hockey’s most hated players in recent decades, for what he did to the Whalers and to the Red Wings with that Kris Draper hit in 1996. Lemieux was a dirty player and his son Brendan is very much a chip off the old block, having been suspended for the first two games of these playoffs. They are not related to Super Mario — Claude and Mario are the same age, both turning 55 this year — but I loved that Mario autograph memory and how the highlight and lowlight of Sean’s hockey fandom both involved the last name Lemieux.
As for the present and the Warriors’ franchise, I loved Sean’s selection of Elias Pettersson second overall and was a little surprised that he didn’t surround him with a younger supporting cast. But looking at the Warriors’ top-six forwards, you can see why it made sense to draft win-now players and why the Warriors could be contenders next season. The Warriors are built like an NHL team in terms of their roster, with a strong top six up front, a very strong top four on defence, and a quality goaltending tandem.
There is lots to like in that lineup and even more so if that kid line of Rasmussen, Chytil and Sikura develops into impact players for the Warriors, who will be getting another impact player for their future through the Entry Auction in October. Sean will find out where exactly his auction spot will be — when he’ll be entering the auction — with next Monday’s Entry Auction Lottery (aka the Lafreniere Lottery). Best of luck to the Warriors there and going forward in the UFHL!
I love that this league mimics the NHL as closely as possible — it really feels like a real league.
— Sean C.
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