User Interview: SAKABAKBRG

Q&A with noted SimLeague Hockey user SAKABAKBRG

We recently contacted veteran user SAKABAKBRG to discuss SimLeague Hockey, setting lines, the upcoming offensive update, UMass-Lowell, Gene Simmons, Peter Gammons, the Big, Bad Bruins and Sapheads.

WIS

Who (or what) is SAKABAKBRG?

SAKABAKBRG

SAK (as his friends call him), is a 36-year old meteorologist from the "Live Free or Die" state. He's been married for 6 years to a wonderful woman that loves hockey and baseball nearly as much as he does. They have season tickets for UMass-Lowell hockey, and have missed just 1 game (home or away) in the past 6 seasons. As for the name itself, there's a long involved story that dates back nearly 15 years to an old job. It basically is the initials of 3 different people (SAK being mine), with an extra "A" thrown in.

WIS

How did you learn about WhatIfSports.com and our SimLeagues?

SAKABAKBRG

I read about it in a Bill Simmons column on ESPN.com and decided to check it out. Being a guy that loves sports and stats, it appealed to me immediately and I've been hooked every since.

WIS

Which games have you played?

SAKABAKBRG

Everything except Clutch Dynasty. Auto racing does not appeal to me at all.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

SAKABAKBRG

My wife and I love to travel, and following the UML hockey team has been a great excuse for us to do so. With the team, we've been all over New England and New York, as well as to Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, and Alaska. The weather is also a big interest (since I have a Bachelor's Degree in Meteorology), but it's much more fun as a hobby than as a profession.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion (need not be sports related)?

SAKABAKBRG

Gene Simmons, Herb Brooks, Ted Williams, Don Cherry, and Peter Gammons. That would certainly be quite the interesting conversation, if any of them would stop to let someone else speak.

WIS

Which are some of your favorite hockey teams of all-time?

SAKABAKBRG

The Big, Bad Bruins of the 70s. The Miracle on Ice US Olympic team. And of course, UMass-Lowell.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

SAKABAKBRG

I was always partial to Terry O'Reilly and Cam Neely from the B's. Those 2 defined what it meant to be a Bruin, something sorely lacking lately. I've also been a huge fan of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, especially from the Pens glory days in the early 90s. These days, I love watching Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Dwayne Roloson (who was a freshman at Lowell when I was).

WIS

Did you play hockey (or other sports) growing up?

SAKABAKBRG

Aside from a bunch of us in the neighborhood playing boot hockey when the local pond froze over, I never played organized hockey. I did play Little League baseball when I was younger.

WIS

Build your all-time dream hockey team:

SAKABAKBRG

Mario Lemieux centers Cam Neely and Terry O'Reilly (Taz can play left wing). On defense, Raymond Bourque and Bobby Orr. Dwayne Roloson in net.

WIS

If you had the power to replace Gary Bettman as commissioner, what is the first thing you would try to change?

SAKABAKBRG

The first thing? So many choices, but I'd have to say that I'd get rid of the shootout. Sure it's exciting, but it's a horrible way to decide a hockey game. Make it 10 minutes of 4-on-4 and if that doesn't work, then that's it. There's nothing wrong with a game ending in a tie, unless it's the playoffs. I'd also fix the point system so that every game is worth the same. Right now, most games are worth 2 points, but if it goes to OT, it's worth 3 points.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

SAKABAKBRG

Nailing down one is pretty tough, but if I'm forced to choose, I'd say it was the night of October 27, 2004, when the Red Sox finally won the World Series.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

SAKABAKBRG

Probably my first Cup (in SimeLeague Hockey). It was a twist league using some of the worst teams in NHL history. I won the Cup with the 1997-98 Tampa Bay Lightning, who were 17-55-10 in real life.

WIS

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

SAKABAKBRG

I don't know that there's really any one coach in particular, it's just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I've stolen ideas from the best (and worst) of them.

WIS

What is your general strategy for SimLeague building teams? What is the most important thing to keep in mind while drafting?

SAKABAKBRG

On defense, 5 "defensive" d-men and one offensive one, who usually still has a decent D rating. In net, 1 goalie that played at least 90% of his RL games and a backup that played 50%. Up front, I try to get high-D forwards, at least 8 of whom also can score on a semi-regular basis. The most important thing is probably to make sure you pay attention to the rules. I once picked a baseball team for a twist league thinking that the cap was $120 million. When I realized it was only $80 million and it was too late to change my choice, I was forced to take the worst season of nearly everyone on the roster. I think that team lost 110 games for me.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your team?

SAKABAKBRG

In Baseball, Willie Mays will always find a way onto one of my teams if the rules allow. Lately, Jacoby Ellsbury has found a way onto my bench as a 4th outfielder and Jonathan Papelbon is usually in my bullpen. In hockey, I usually try to get Neely, Orr, and Roloson on there. I'll also try to use Ryan Walter, who is a terrific guy that I've met a few times when his son Ben was playing for Lowell. Lately, I also try to use Johnny "Pie" McKenzie, another guy now associated with the Lowell hockey program that I am privileged to chat with every week. The other Lowell guys (Ron Hainsey, Mark Kumpel, Jon Morris, and Craig MacTavish) are ones I try to use often. These may not always be the best choices, but sentimental ones are always good with me.

WIS

Are there any players that you feel consistently under or overachieve?

SAKABAKBRG

For overachievers you've got a lot of the old-timers. The Joe Malone's, Cy Denneny's, the Newsy Lalonde's and the guys who played 60 minutes a game 90 years ago, but now get those same stats in the sim in 1/3 of the playing time.

For underachievers, it's the guys who dominated their time and re-wrote the record books, but never meet their stats here - the Bobby Orr's, Wayne Gretzky's, Mario Lemieux's, and Paul Coffey's of the 70s and 80s. That and nearly all of the goalies.

WIS

How do you go about setting your lines?

SAKABAKBRG

Usually 2 high-shot scorers with 1 low-shot, high-defense forward. I usually will keep them at medium, maybe 1 line on aggressive. On defense, I keep them on rarely shoot, except 1 pair with my offensive d-man will be on "let the forwards take the majority". On the PP, forwards are on aggressive, d-men are on no restrictions. On the PK, everyone's on conservative/rarely shoot.

WIS

Do you make transactions during the season? Why or why not?

SAKABAKBRG

Usually not, because most of the leagues I'm in don't allow the waiver wire (either in baseball or hockey). I'll use ML if they're good enough, though mainly for injury replacements in hockey. I use the AAA guys a bit more in baseball, mostly as bench/bullpen filler though. Never been much of a trader, because I'm usually looking for fair value in return, and I hardly ever seem to get that in trade offers. I'll list guys on the trade block, but rarely will I initiate a trade.

WIS

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

SAKABAKBRG

Well, this list starts with the Sapheads. Cpetsche, Gollum, bigbuzz, bb_icetime, booman35, slatz, logain, ntbaer, kobo, newsensation, bradpark22. As PR director for the Sapheads, it's my duty to give them top billing (yes, even Gollum). As for others, there are several people I compete against not only in hockey, but other sports as well, namely smeric, god_mike, kettlevalley, damag, julz55, whatifgirl, zlionsfan, and hockeyhead to name a few. Also, I'll give a special nod to thehuseman, who's not only my neighbor, but also a feline babysitter when my wife and I travel.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague hockey?

SAKABAKBRG

It's helped me learn even more about the history of the game, and appreciate some players, especially the old-timers even more. I've also met a lot of great people on here, many of which are now my friends.

WIS

What are your thoughts on the upcoming engine update that you have been testing?

SAKABAKBRG

It's not ready yet, but we're getting there. We're trying to make assists mean more in terms of offense. Right now, guys like Adam Oates aren't as important as they should be. Without Oates, Hull doesn't score 70+ and Neely doesn't score 50+. Plus, guys like Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey aren't worth their price, because it's based on their high assist totals, which they don't reach. Hopefully, we can find a way to make that work. Bobby Orr shouldn't be taking goals away from the forwards because he shoots so much. He should be shooting and letting the forwards bang home the rebounds, giving him the assists. That's not happening in the current version.

WIS

If you could change anything about SimLeague hockey and/or the site, what would you change?

SAKABAKBRG

I'd add Hockey Dynasty ASAP. I know this is something the hockey guys want, given that the "Big 3" sports as well as NASCAR already have it. I'd love to see it personally. Whether it be in the Hoops/Gridiron mold of using college (or for hockey - junior) programs or in the hardball mold of an entire organ-eye-zation, I hope it becomes a reality soon.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, how much would you cost?

SAKABAKBRG

In hockey, I'd be a 4th line wing: 75 GP, 7G-10A-60PIM-50D rating and about $800,000.

In baseball, I'd be 4th outfielder: 250AB .275-3HR-30RBI-5SB B/B-, and about $1.2million.

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