Ramblings: Blackhawks updates on Seabrook, Saad, de Haan; World Juniors – December 27

Michael Clifford



We got significant updates on a few Blackhawks players, and none of them good. Brandon Saad is going to miss a few weeks with an ankle injury while both Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook are out for the season with shoulder surgeries of their own. On top of that, for Seabrook, he will undergo surgery on both hips sometime in the new year. It seems like he’s going to be much longer than just this season.


We were blessed on Boxing Day with a Canada/USA game at the World Juniors. It featured 10 goals, six coming on the power play, including five goals in the final 10 minutes of the contest. Canada managed a 6-4 win, but the game was really about Alexis Lafrenière. His vision and hands on the power play directly resulted in two Barrett Hayton PP goals, while he scored the game-winner with 3:11 left in the game mere seconds after USA tied it up. He is a game-breaker in every sense of the word.


The Czechs skated away with a 4-3 win over the favoured Russians on Thursday. It was largely thanks to Jan Jenik, who posted a goal and an assist to go with four shots. You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.

Jenik is a guy that our very own Cam Robinson has been discussing for a couple years now and when Cam is high on an offensive player, readers would be wise to take note.


So, uh, this is a pretty good goal from Nils Höglander!


Sweden took that game 3-2 in overtime. 


This won’t be my last Ramblings of the decade – I’m scheduled for New Year’s Eve – but that one will be filled with news, notes, injuries, scores, and an assortment of other stories. This is the last one where I have some level of autonomy over what is said, so I just wanted to say thanks.

Looking back over the decade, it’s pretty crazy to think that as 2009 turned into 2010, I hadn’t even taken part in a fantasy hockey league. Literally. I had played box pools or points-only draft-and-holds with a few friends or whatever, but never had I sat down at a computer with 11 strangers and drafted 25 players, and then had to manage that team all year. The following season, 2010-11, was my first real fantasy hockey season. That year, David Backes’ 31 goals, 93 penalty minutes, and 211 shots helped lead me to a fantasy title, and I was hooked.

I started writing about fantasy hockey at the start of the 2011-12 season. I had joined Twitter in the summer of 2011 and that opened my world up to fantasy sports writing. My first blog post (I don’t even remember the site that hosted me) was a season preview where I made my predictions. I’m pretty sure that besides myself, the only other people that read that blog post were my dad and my uncle. And then I read an article that, to be quite literal, changed my life.

Cam Charron, who was writing for theScore at the time but is now in the Leafs analytics department, wrote an article about Tyler Seguin that was published towards the end of November. The subject was Seguin’s plus/minus. Through Seguin’s first 18 games that season, he was plus-17. Me, being the idiot I am, would naturally assume he’s having a great defensive year. Charron, however, argued that he was getting lucky due to something called ‘PDO’ and that his plus/minus would crash later in the year. Seguin would end up plus-27 in his first 34 games that year leading to New Year’s Eve. Over his final 47 games spanning the rest of the year? Plus-7, and it’s worth noting that he was plus-7 in the first six games of the calendar year. That means he had a plus/minus of zero over the final 41 games of the season.

I was blown away. What sort of wizardry could predict a guy who was plus-34 in 40 games would end up going exactly even in the next 41 games? I had started writing for a relatively popular website named FantasyTrade411 by that point, and armed with my new-found love for hockey analytics, my writing career began in earnest.

After that, I wrote for XNSports starting in the lockout season, which featured a lot of great writers that have since made full-time careers in other sports, particularly football. It was my first paid gig, and I couldn’t believe people were paying me for my hockey predictions. I got into daily fantasy hockey at the same time, and opening myself to DraftKings and (unfortunately) FanDuel would be another major milestone in my writing/fantasy career.

XNSports helped lift me to a larger platform, and I even appeared in both the Chicago Tribune and Boston Herald. My fantasy writing with an analytics bent, I’d like to think, was something not many were doing at the time, and that’s what led Sportsnet to contact me. I worked with them for a year, while also picking up some columns at RotoWire.

Once 2015 rolled around, Dobber contacted myself and Neil Parker to hop aboard here at Dobber Hockey. I’ll be completely honest and say I didn’t know a lot about the site at the time. I was obviously aware of Dobber and his stature in the hockey community, but one thing I did infrequently was read the work of others. I didn’t like having my opinion, that others sometimes paid for, influenced by the opinion of others. Of course, that’s backwards thinking because reading the work of people you trust and respect is one way to overcome biases, but that shows the growth people need to go through in any sort of creative endeavour. Anyway, Neil and I joined in the spring of 2015 and the rest, as they say, is history.

So here we are. In the intervening decade between when I started getting into fantasy hockey and where we are now, I’ve gone from someone who thought plus/minus was a good proxy for individual defence to someone who digs through zone entry/exit stats for individual games. I’ve gone from someone who was afraid of the opinions of others to someone who embraces them. I’ve gone from someone whose work was solely read by their family, to someone whose work has been published in books, newspapers, radio, and is read weekly by thousands.

The reason for this exercise is two-fold. The first is that it can be easy to get bogged down by a seeming lack of progress. Sometimes, though, a little reflection is necessary for just how much progress has been made. Early-Twenties Cliffy would have laughed at the notion of Early-Thirties Cliffy being a published author, and yet here we are.

The second reason is, as stated at the very beginning, is to say thanks. It’s obviously very corny to say, “hey thanks readers, you guys are the real heroes” but there’s truth to it. If readers didn’t find value in what I had to read or what I had to say, I wouldn’t be here. It’s that simple. There are just too many options for people, no matter the subject, to find someone they would rather read instead if my advice were not valuable. So yes, thank you to the readers, and not just the ones that skim through our Dobber pages daily. Thank you to everyone who has been reading my stuff over the years. It’s your guys’ appreciation and continued patronage that ensures I keep having homes where I can write.

So, again, thank you. Thank you to the readers, now and in the past. Thank you to my bosses, both Dobber and the ones from years gone by. (A lot of people complain about the online economy, and there are some websites that treat their employees poorly, but every boss I’ve had has treated me fairly, paid me promptly, and given me the autonomy to often write about what I want. That last part is more important than people think.) Thank you to my colleagues for being sounding boards, and my DFS buddies for putting up with my relentless tilts. Thank you to friends and family who’ve encouraged me to keep up my writing/podcasting/vodcasting, even all those years ago when I was writing three columns a week and made a grand total of $50 in two seasons.

Will I still be here writing in 2029? Who knows; as I mentioned, thinking back to 2009, I didn’t dream in a million years I’d be in this situation. What I do know is that I have a lot for which I need to be appreciative, and it all starts with the support I’ve gotten over the years. Thank you.


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