Supporting Cast: A Mafia Story Pt 1: NHL

Aside from video games, I’m also known to enjoy sports from time to time. In sports, a lot of times when a player will go into free agency (or be traded) you’ll have people saying that player is overvalued and their production only came from playing with a certain player, or on a certain team, or under a certain coach. So I wanted to put that to the test…

 

The Story

I was sitting at my desk, just dumbfounded… I still couldn’t believe my luck. How was I, the guy with absolutely no references or experience was able to land the GM job of a National Hockey League team. And not any team, the Anaheim Ducks, the most alphabetically first team in the league! As I commanded new training regiments for all my players (boosting them all to 99 overall) I got a buzz on my intercom.

“Mr Heals” cried out my secretary. “Some intimidating men to see you”.

I didn’t recall sending for any intimidating men, but perhaps though the mere mention of intimidation I requested they be sent in.

As the door opened, five men in pinstriped suits walked in. Each more intimidating than the last. Except for the fourth guy, he was probably only the third most intimidating.

After the door closed, the eldest stepped up to my desk.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Heals.”

“Who are you?” I questioned.

The men just laughed, until the apparent leader spoke up. “The reason you got this job. I mean you have no qualifications, how do you think you got it?”

I was stumped. To be honest mafia interference made much more sense than anything else I could come up with.

“So what brings you in today, sir?” I asked.

“Please, Don is fine” He shot back. I don’t know if it was his actual name or just title, but I just nodded. He continued “since we’ve done you a favor, I figure you can do me one”. I gulped. Drug running? Would I have to murder someone? Would it be my secretary? That’d suck, I’m just getting to know her.

As my mind raced Don spoke up. “I’d like my son to be on your team”. Well, that’s… reasonable. If course I’d think that to just about anything when the alternative would involve coke balloons in my butt.

“You see” Don continued, even though I never asked him to “My boy isn’t cut out for our work. Hell, if I’m being honest he isn’t cut out for anything, but we figure we send you the salary, and you keep him busy and out of our hair.”

How could I decline? They’ve already done a lot for me, though I didn’t ask it and it was clearly for this favor, but still. “Mr. Don, you’ve got yourself a deal!”

 

The Experiment

 

For this experiment, Don’s son, Jimmy “Smith” (yes, his birth certificate has quotation marks) will be joining my otherwise stacked Anaheim Ducks team. We want to see if we can transform Jimmy into a Hall of Fame player, despite no natural skill whatsoever. Now Hall of Fame is subjective, but I think as long as there is a debate it’s good enough. In order to succeed we will do whatever it takes to stack the deck in our favor. The steps done to do so are:

  • Injuries have been turned off.
  • All other players are 99 overall and offensively minded.
  • “Smith” will play on all lines and all situations. Reality be damned, this kid will suit up for almost 60 minutes a night.

Now to see what we’re working with. Jimmy “Smith” is 36 overall (the lowest you can be in NHL, surprisingly won’t let you set stats to 0 or even 1), he is a 19 year old sniper with the lowest potential he can have (low AHL extra forward).

And with that we’ve started

The Results

2018: The Ducks set the record for best season ever, earning 140 points (69-11-2). In 82 games “Smith” scored 4 goals and added 1 assist for 5 points. Not a great start. He chipped in 2 assists in 19 playoff games, but did end up with his name on the cup for his efforts. At the end of the year he took home the Masterston Trophy.*

2019: The Ducks continue to smash records, this time earning 143 points (71-10-1). “Smith” manages to increase his productivity and finish with 13 points on 7 goals and 6 assists. In 20 playoff games he added 2 goals, yet brought home his second cup and Masterston.

2020: Before 2020 “Smith” managed to increase his overall to 51, which made him no longer the worst in the game. And the improvement showed. The Ducks again beat their previous record going 77-4-1 earning 155 points. In 82 games “Smith” scored 48 goals and added 12 assists for 60 points, demolishing his previous bests. The Ducks won the cup again in 18 games with “Smith” chipping in 5 goals and 1 assist. No doubt due to his massive playing time “Smith” not only took home the Masterston in 2020, but also the Lindsay Award and the Hart Trophy.

2021: Proved to be a tough act to follow on all fronts. The Ducks only finished with 150 points (74-6-2) and “Smith” (who regressed to 43 overall) put up only 23 goals and 4 assists for 27 points. The Ducks won the cup on the strength of “Smith”‘s strongest postseason yet with 13 goals in 22 playoff games. Again he earned the Masterston.

And then surprisingly he called it quits. In the middle of a 10 year contract worth $10 million a year. His career ended quite unspectacularly stats wise, with 82 goals 23 assists and 105 points in 328 career games. However he did quite well hardware wise, being on a part of 4  President’s Trophy winning teams, 4 Cup winning teams, winning the Masterston 4 times, as well as the Hart and Lindsay once each. He was only 23, so my thought is I made his potential too low, it’s the only explanation I can think of: he had playing time, money, long term contract, and he wasn’t injured. I guess he just had to follow his true dream, but that’s for next time…

Glossary

Now I know not everyone is a hockey fan, so I thought I’d give some definitions here. I’m gonna assume that Cup, goals, and asssits are fairly straightforward and well known so I’m not gonna go over them.

  • Masterston Trophy: A yearly trophy. Awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. Past winners have received it for coming back from debilitating injuries such as MS or from returning to the game after tending to dying loved ones. I imagine “Smith” got it for all of his ice time, especially since the game probably doesn’t delve into such heavy occurrences in its simulation. Either that or he got it for persevering in playing hockey day in and day out with no natural skill.
  • Lindsay Award: Is basically the MVP trophy voted on members of the NHL Player’s Association.
  • Hart Trophy: The MVP voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association.
  • President’s Trophy: Awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the season. Each team plays 82 games and earns 2 points for a win, 1 point for a loss in overtime or the shootout, and 0 points for a loss in regulation time.