User Interview: Gollum

Q&A with noted WhatIfSports user Gollum

Though the calendar and the change in weather would lead us to believe otherwise, hockey season has yet to start due to the current NHL lockout. We at WhatIfSports remedy that situation with our SimLeague Hockey and No Lockout Challenge as well as our support of NHL.com's Quest for the Best all-time tournament.

Recently, WhatIfSports interviewed Gollum, a hockey fan and veteran SimLeague participant who was also fortunate enough to land the GM role for the Ottawa Senators (currently third place in the Northeast) in the official No Lockout Challenge league to discuss hockey, Tolkien, dragonflies and life in Canada, eh..

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

Who is Gollum?

Gollum

Aside from being one of the characters from Tolkein's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gollum is the name I chose simply because I liked that character best of all from the series. When I was teaching in Colombia and Chile, I taught my Grade 5 class The Hobbit and Gollum was the character that I enjoyed the most.

WIS

How did you learn about WhatIfSports and our SimLeagues?

Gollum

As I recall I saw an ad for WhatIfSports on NHL.com.

WIS

Which coaches, teams or players, past or present, do you draw on for inspiration?

Gollum

Being Canadian I have always been a hockey fan, I suppose. I am also old enough to have been around the last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Back then the Leafs were not my favourite team, but rather I rooted for Chicago Black Hawks, and I used to follow their Jr A franchise, the St Catherines Teepees/Black Hawks. My favourite players were Stan Mikita and Pat Stapleton.

WIS

You have played baseball and hockey SimLeagues. Which do you prefer and why?

Gollum

That is an easy choice. Hockey, for sure. I suppose that the main reason is the little bit of success I have enjoyed playing sim hockey as opposed to the frustration that I endured playing sim baseball.

WIS

As a fan of hockey, what do you think of the current lockout situation in the NHL?

Gollum

Regarding the lockout, like many fans in both Canada and the U.S., I feel that WE are the ones that are getting hurt most by the lockout. The players, and their ridiculous salaries can't be too bad off, and many of the owners, I feel, are finding they are losing less money now than if the season were underway. I really can't say who is right and who is wrong, but sadly I fear there will not be a season this year.

WIS

What are you doing to get through these times without the NHL?

Gollum

Thanks to WhatIfSports, I can still enjoy hockey. Maybe not live, but sim hockey is the next best thing to the real thing, for me.

WIS

As proud GM of the Ottawa Senators in our NHL No Lockout Challenge, what are your thoughts on the season so far?

Gollum

I am definitely not doing cartwheels over my current record. However, looking at our division and conference, it will not take much of a winning streak to turn things around.

WIS

After looking over your team, what were your expectations going into the year?

Gollum

I was a bit dismayed at the number of players who had such low games played. I was also hoping that I could grab a couple of free agents to shore up the team offensively. Goaltending, on paper, looked solid.

WIS

In the No Lockout Challenge league, you are one of the most experienced users. Do you think this has been to your advantage? How?

Gollum

Looking at my record so far, I would have to say, no. Basing things on owner experience, I would have to say that my division is the strongest. I do feel that we know the subtle nuances of the sim, maybe better than some other owners, but the sim itself is so unpredictable. The other owners, with less experience seem to have picked up a lot in the short time the league has been running. Hopefully some of those owners will start to play sim hockey on a regular basis as well.

WIS

Have you received much feedback from other users (or media members) in the NLC league or not, concerning your team and your fortune?

Gollum

I have had no feedback from the media so I have not had to apologize for my teams mediocre showing so far. Two or three of the owners I have played against before, but to be honest, the most feedback has come from "the regulars" who play sim hockey and unfortunately were not lucky enough to get a team in the NLC.

WIS

How are you approaching the ability to make transactions, such as waiver wire moves, trades, etc.? Do you think this has helped you gain an edge for the season? Is it helping others? And, do you think that this can be helpful in SimLeagues?

Gollum

My team is basically the same as when the season began. Unfortunately I was away when the free agents became available via the WW. I have attempted to make a couple of trades, but they have been unsuccessful. Thus, in answer to question two, neither has given me an edge for the season. Some others have improved their teams it appears, via trades especially. As for the effect on the regular sim leagues, I feel that the use of trades especially might be helpful. However, I play exclusively theme leagues, and usually with many of the same owners. Trades definitely could be used. The waiver wire often does not come up with players who fit the themes, and many times it is turned off due to the difficulty of policing the transactions.

WIS

In the SimLeague Hockey, what is your general strategy for building teams?

Gollum

Oh, so I have to give away my secrets, eh? Well, considering my owner rating, and the plethora of cups I have won so far, I guess I can - high shooting percentage forwards, high defensive ratings for defencemen, and high save percentage for the goalies. Now I know that probably 95% of the owners I play with on a regular basis do the same thing as well. Why some of them have had more success than others (including myself) is an enigma.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams, or that you feel consistently under or overachieve?

Gollum

Warren Young is a sim God (someone else's quote). If a theme league criterion does not restrict his inclusion you can almost guarantee he will be on almost everyone's team. As for underachieving, many of the high-priced players (10 million and over) do not perform up to their real-life stats, and are rarely, if ever, worth their price tag.

WIS

What do you do during the season to try and separate yourself from other teams?

Gollum

All too often I am separated from the other teams, but not in a position where I am looking down from above. I suppose what I try to avoid is a significant losing streak. Interestingly, at the present time I have a team that started 19-8 and is now 19-17. Like many owners, I have no idea what happened to the team, since there were no major injuries, no fatigue issues, and no reason for a 9-game losing streak.

WIS

What do you believe is the overall biggest key to success in SimLeague Hockey?

Gollum

Between drafting and managing your team I feel that the drafting of the team is the most important factor during the regular season. Once the playoffs begin, managing the team, setting up the defensive keys, matching the lines (when possible), and determining how to play the lines (aggressive, medium or conservative) become the determining factor.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and who challenge you the most?

Gollum

I was hoping you would ask this question. There are tons of owners here whom I have the utmost respect for. However, cpetsche, booman35, bb_icetime, and bigbuzz are the owners that I would have to call my top four. The first two I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, the latter two I have not due to our geographical separation. Though I mentioned only those four owners, there are so many more that I consider not just owners, but friends. It is interesting that when these four owners or I start a theme league, the owners who join always seem to be the same group. I feel that many of the owners feel much the same as I do. We are more like a bunch of friends, even family, as opposed to just owners' names following their team's record in the league standings.

I also have to say a word about the ladies who regularly take part. Eclipse33, smerics_wife, julz55, tlenihan and dragonflydeb (my fiancÚ) have joined many of the leagues I have been in, and believe me, their presence does add to the fun we have.

WIS

Do you seek help in the forums/sitemail from other users? Do other users seek help from you via the forums or sitemail?

Gollum

Yes, I have groveled & begged for help on several occasions!!! Seriously though, I do bounce ideas off several owners, especially cpetsche, booman35 and bb_icetime. Buzz and I just console each other on our lack of success. :) I guess that is the beauty of the sim...always trying to find something that works consistently.

WIS

What advice can you give to new SimLeague Hockey users who want to succeed?

Gollum

The best advice I can give is do NOT get frustrated. Seek help from the experienced owners. Most will volunteer it willingly. Experiment with your drafting techniques. Try different strategies on how you play and set your lines during the year. Join theme leagues, if for no other reasons than the fact that the salary caps are higher and the owners who play them are the ones who can offer you the best advice. Lastly, HAVE FUN!

WIS

What do you think of SimLeague Hockey 2.0?

Gollum

Having played near the end of 1.0, I find that 2.0 is more challenging and more frustrating. What worked with 1.0 does not work with 2.0. What works with 2.0 one week sometimes doesn't the next week. Often times it would reduce me to pulling out my hair...if I had any. :)

WIS

What is your favorite part about SimLeague Hockey?

Gollum

I really have two favourite parts. First of all I enjoy the drafting of the teams. Especially in theme leagues, where the criteria can be very demanding and restricting, I love the challenge of trying to put together a winning team. But the other favourite part about the sim hockey is the people I meet and the friends I have made. I dare say that might be the same in the other sim sports, but due to the nucleus of owners who regularly play the sim hockey; I think we truly do have something special here.

WIS

Least favorite? If you could change one thing, what would it be?

Gollum

I cannot keep the list to just "one" thing, so I will list the changes that most owners are really hoping to see in the near future: 1) Changes in the shooting percentages for the pre-expansion players. 2) Significance of defensive ratings would be another (especially for forwards - low d-rated forwards don't seem to be penalized for having a low d-rating and high d-rated forwards don't appear to be rewarded). 3) PIMs never seem to approach their real life values... meaning cheaper, high PIM guys get to play more and score more. Also, a few months ago some proposed changes to the draft center were displayed. I know I speak for many owners who start theme leagues, a draft center similar to the baseball one would make things much easier for drafting a team to meet a theme league's criteria.

User Profile

LoginID:Gollum
Name:Mike Bible
Age:58
Location:Whitby, Ontario / Middletown, Ohio
Occupation:retired teacher
Favorite Sport(s):Hockey. I am Canadian, eh!
Favorite Team(s):Toronto Maple Leafs
Member Since:9/24/2003
Greatest WIS Moment:Beating cpetsche in game 7 for my one (and only) cup
Motto:Just when I see the light at the end of the tunnel...the roof caves in.

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