No NHL? No Problem!?! Actually, slight problem in that the NHL is pretty much the only league which has a following that supports mainstream fantasy leagues... but let's be honest, we're hockey fans first, right? fantasy hockey fans second, n'est pas?
Now that we've convinced ourselves of that let's move on to how all of us hockey junkies are going to get our fix during what could turn into a "winter of no-content".
1) Other Pro Hockey Leagues - If you're the type that really needs to watch the best players in the world and want to follow your favourite NHL players wherever they go then start watching some AHL, KHL or SEL action as there should be lots of familiar names in all three.
The AHL offers live streaming games ($6-7 per game) and highlights right off their site, the KHL has a Youtube Channel where you can watch lengthy game recaps and maybe some live action and the Swedish Elitserien has great quality highlights on their homepage and, surely, live streaming games that I could probably find if my Swedish was better.
2) Amateur Hockey - For those of us that are the purists or really enjoy discovering the next big thing then there is plenty of amateur hockey to keep us entertained. Put the scouting aspect of it aside and I may argue that some of these leagues offer hockey that is far more exciting than the NHL brand. Lots of options here:
- Canadian Junior Hockey - It has never been covered on a national basis like it is currently, with some fantastic blogs like Buzzing The Net and Coming Down The Pipe (and corresponding radio show The Pipeline Show) complimenting the local news and each of the QMJHL, OHL & WHL offer highlights and various live streaming offerings. It's a great season to dive into the CHL as each league has some top shelf prospects up for the 2013 draft, including Nathan MacKinnon, Sean Monahan, Seth Jones & Hunter Shinkaruk and it all leads to one of the most interesting tournaments in hockey, the Memorial Cup.
- US College & Junior - If you enjoy intense rivalries, student athletes and bands, then the NCAA puts on a good show. Depending on your location you can often find games kicking around the television dial. Can't say I've ever been to or watched a USHL game, but there is always that option if you frequent places like Des Moines, Omaha or Muskegon.
- International Hockey - Between the Canada-Russia Super Series, WJCs, U-17s, U-18s & World Championships, your cup can runeth over with best-on-best international action. This is a great opportunity to see the future stars of the NHL playing their guts out for national pride instead of 57% of HRR.
3) Alternative Fantasy Leagues - We're not aware of fantasy leagues that are based on non-NHL leagues but we've toyed with the idea of creating some kind of contest revolving around other league (KHL/AHL), the WJCs or prospects... not sure how it would work, let us know if you're aware of any that are already out there. Maybe we'll come up with something that is better than the NHL fantasy leagues of today... not likely but it's not like we have anything better to do.
So that's how we'll be getting our hockey fix, how bout yourself?