The Obligatory Fantasy Hockey Airing of Grievances

Updated: December 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm by Alexander Monaghan

Back on Thursday, December 18th, 1997, during the annual holiday episode of Seinfeld a new holiday — Festivus — was born. To fully explain the origins, we give the floor to Frank Costanza, played by the great Jerry Stiller all those years ago .

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born … a Festivus for the rest of us

And with keeping with the Festivus tradition, we air our grievances. As Costanza put it, “The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!” Seeing as there were eight people at that table on that fateful evening, we bring you the eight fantasy hockey players that simply need to hear about it!

Bobby Ryan, Left Wing, Anaheim Ducks

Where do we start with Ryan. We knew there were some red flags with him entering this season but we never expected him to be this bad! We knew he rarely played on the top power play unit. We also knew bench boss Randy Carlyle had this wacky idea to try him out as a center on his own line. But this behavior was simply unprecedented.

To say that he has stunk would probably be giving the former 2nd overall pick too much credit. Six of his 10 goals came in multi-goal performances which not only makes his production feast or famine, it also makes him relatively useless in head-to-head leagues — where he’s produced goose eggs in more than one week.

Additionally, his minus-8 rating has been killer. This mega talent seems to have a problem with putting it all together and stepping up when the offense-starved Ducks need him most. As far as festivus is concerned, Ryan has a very low strength-to-weight ratio; where has all this talent gone?

Eric Staal, Center, Carolina Hurricanes

I’ve got a lot of problems with Staal! Where do I begin. First, he has a League-leading minus-21 rating. Somehow that is the worst on the Canes and the rest of the cellar dwelling teams, which is definitely not what you expect from a guy you likely took as your first or second center.

It seems to get even worse from there. Staal has barely contributed to his team’s 10 wins with only six points in those games. While the team and Staal denies his decline has anything to do with knocking out brother Marc Staal, his downfall directly correlates with his baby brother missing the beginning of the season.

Festivus, or the New Year for that matter, could not come any quicker for captain Staal as he hopes a change in calendar will heal the team’s descent to the cellar. A new coach hasn’t helped, and with top scorer Jeff Skinner sidelined, Staal likely can’t wait for the feats of strength.

Alexander Semin, Left Wing, Washington Capitals

A change in line doesn’t help. A change in coach doesn’t help. What will help Alexander ‘Sasha’ Semin care about winning, his offensive production or just get back to normality?

Back in July we pondered keeping Semin off our draft sheet but it seemed more like a good reason to buy low. After all, the enigmatic Russian scored at least 26 goals in every NHL season since the 2006-2007 campaign. Despite the jokes and idioms passed around about his work ethic or inconsistency, he seems primed to score at least 25, right?

Wrong. Sasha has potted only seven markers through 29 games and figures to finish the year with about 18. Definitely not what we expected when he was taken to be a first or second winger.

Michael Cammalleri, Left Wing, Montreal Canadiens

Where as many of the above selections were not personal, this choice certainly fits that bill. Coming out of the preseason, we ranked Cammalleri as a number one left wing, just shy of the elite ranks. The Richmond Hill, Ontario native was coming off a 19-goal campaign in 67 injury plagued games but looked like a perfect buy-low opportunity.

In four of the previous five seasons he scored at least 26 goals. Furthermore his down season was mainly contributed to scoring only four goals over the last 19 games of the year — a slump he broke out of in the playoffs. It seemed like his timing was off but those issues can typically get fixed with time.

This season, the 29-year-old has been neither healthy nor consistent. Instead his brutal production has led to the Canadiens becoming candidates for a rebuild. Think they would be in trouble if he had 15 goals opposed just six through 31 games? He’s paid to fill the net and provide very little else — something he simply has not done this season.

Tomas Vokoun, Starting Goalie, Washington Capitals

For years we’ve heard the plight of Vokoun — an excellent starting goaltender on lesser teams who just needed a change of scenery. When the Florida Panthers failed to re-sign him — as they signed the rest of the League — we felt for the guy. When he later signed on with the Washington Capitals, we thought it the feel-good story of the year.

However, none of those thoughts have come to fruition for the ‘paid employee’. He’s just started 21 of 32 games for the Caps which includes Michal Neuvirth taking over for the last four starts. On top of that, his .906 SV% is 12 points lower than his career average and his 2.81 GAA would be his personal highest since the 1998-1999 campaign — Vokoun’s first full season in the League.

Selected to backstop your team to a championship, Vokoun has failed to be a valuable starting goalie in fantasy hockey circles and on the struggling Capitals. To top all of those complaints, he remains on the Yahoo! can’t cut list, forcing GMs to keep him on their roster regardless of his inconsistency.

Ryan Miller, Starting Goalie, Buffalo Sabres

Miller has aired some grievances of his own over course of the season, focusing on his ‘unbelievable’ lack of respect as opposed to his unbelievable lack of consistency. While the talk remains on how opposing forwards choose to run him in the crease, the main discussion should be pointed at his struggles in keeping himself and the puck out of the net.

Last season, Miller was touted as a first round pick following an amazing Vezina Trophy performance. However, he likely tanked any team that took him that high with a concussion-filled season which produced a 2.59 GAA and .916 SV%. Expecting him to bounce back, we, as fantasy hockey owners, took the leap of faith and expected him to revert back to his 40 win, 2.20 GAA potential.

All the money in the world could not improve his bottom line as the East Lansing, Michigan native has an awful 3.11 GAA and .904 SV% while once again struggling with concussion problems. Although an injury-marred season up North has hurt the Sabres chances at competing for the Division, we still hoped for much, much more from both them and Miller.

Drew Doughty, Defenseman, Los Angeles Kings

Doughty missed training camp — an obvious red flag. Nevertheless, we expected more from an all-world defender like him.

Instead we get a player almost afraid to use all of his tools. Even though his shot totals are relatively higher than the previous season, his shooting percentage is nearly half of his career average (which could signal bad luck or simply lessened skills). Right now, the former 2nd overall pick projects to score just six goals over the entire season. When we took him in the 5th round, we expected at least a 10 goal, 40 point output with the potential for 60 — none of those totals seem likely at this point.

The London, Ontario is still very young at the ripe age of 22 and has a whole lot of hockey left in his body. But if he doesn’t start turning things around under his third coach of the season he could be one of the biggest busts in fantasy hockey.

Chris Stewart, Right Wing, St. Louis Blues

Stewart is on pace for 13 goals as of this writing. By comparison, the power forward scored 13 goals in only 36 games with the Colorado Avalance last season. To say that his season has been a disappointment is an understatement.

Opposed to many of the players listed above, Stewart was not taken with a high pick but he was expected to provide value as a second or even third right wing off the bench. While 30 goals may have sounded ambitious, a 25 goal campaign following consecutive 28-goal outputs should have been expected.

His shooting percentage is roughly half of his career average which again could signal a lack of luck. Regardless, coach Ken Hitchcock has no shortage of wingers fully capable of taking over his spot on the second line which makes his struggles that much more alarming. That, and being tied in points with Jamie Langenbrunner.

We hope you enjoyed our airing of grievances. Please be so kind as to air your own in the comments and enjoy the tradition with Festivus celebrator Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford.

Alexander Semin, Anaheim Ducks, Bobby Ryan, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Center, Chris Stewart, Defenseman, Drew Doughty, Eric Staal, Left Wing, Los Angeles Kings, Michael Cammalleri, Montreal Canadiens, Right Wing, Ryan Miller, St. Louis Blues, Starting goalie, Tomas Vokoun, Washington Capitals