Barn Fight! Fantasy League Dispute Resolution

Glen Hoos




Fantasy Hockey League Disputes, they’ve become the stuff of legends.


Back in 2007, shortly after hoisting the Cup with his Anaheim Duck teammates, Dustin Penner signed an (ill-advised) offer sheet with the Edmonton Oilers. This was so long ago that Penner was actually considered an impact player for the Ducks, and to say that then-Ducks' GM Brian Burke took exception to the Oilers' tactics would be an understatement.


After trading barbs with Oilers' GM Kevin Lowe through the media, Burke went all schoolyard on him, challenging him to a barn fight in Lake Placid. Actually, Burke issued the challenge by sending Lowe a message through his buddy Glen Sather, the NHL equivalent of asking the kid next to you to pass a note to the guy behind him.

When Gary Bettman inevitably got wind of the showdown, he missed a golden opportunity to turn it into a pay-per-view spectacular that could have generated enough revenue to avoid the lockout of 2012, and regrettably pulled the plug on it with threats of lengthy suspensions. Something about the integrity of the game. Pffffttt.


One of the least fun aspects of being a commissioner, whether in real life or in fantasy, is dealing with disputes between rival managers. Whether the arguments arise out of shady trade dealings, skirting the edge of the rules, or questionable in-game strategies, when two or more owners are at each other's throat, the wise commissioner must diffuse the situation before it engulfs the league. It takes a delicate touch.


Here are a few strategies to help you navigate these tricky waters, listed in ever-widening circles. Because there's such a wide range of disputes, and every league is unique, I'll let you decide which is most appropriate for dealing with your next controversy.


Commissioner as Benevolent Dictator: One option is for the commissioner to act as an independent mediator. Let both sides present their case, review your league rules, think through the precedents that you may be setting, and make a binding decision. This is often the easiest way to put out small fires, but be warned: when you go this route, you could be setting yourself up for some serious vitriol. The "loser" in this situation may not look upon you too kindly, and others could accuse you of acting out of self-interest. It is critical that you set aside any interest that your own team might have in the out