I never understood it, but like everyone else, I rolled with it at first: if you play fantasy hockey, you benefit from taking players that take a lot of penalties.

The reason that makes sense is because, well, …hold on here.

The reason that makes sense is because….


Wait it’s actually really stupid.

Hockey fans in general seem to think PIMS are a good thing (gritty!), and they love the guys on their team that spend a lot of time in the box. Hell, Tiger Williams is the NHL’s most penalized players of all-time, and he’s widely beloved by fans, who are apparently unaware that penalties are detrimental to a team’s chances of winning.

Congrats on drafting more guys who harmed their team’s chances than your opponent did last week!

The reality is that when you’re sitting on the bench, and you’re next to get on the ice, it’s infuriating to see the refs arm go up. Sweet, instead of actually playing hockey, I get to either block shots, or not play at all. Thanks.

I played with Curtis Glencross in college, and I swear, that dude took more stupid penalties than anyone I’ve ever played with. He put us down a man with regularity because of either laziness, selfishness or ignorance, and it made our team crazy (though must of us did enjoy his charging penalties. He used to light kids up in college.)

So why would he have higher fantasy value (around 60 PIMS per season lately) than a clean player who doesn’t kill his team? I mean, I get that it’s fun to have more stats to compare in a week, but shouldn’t it work the opposite way? The guy with the least PIMS wins?

I ran a league a couple years back that took PIMs out, and I assure you, the number of people who wrote me to say they missed rooting for a hooking penalty totalled zero. If it’s fights you’re after, then hell, make the stat “Fighting Majors.” I’d be down with that. Picking a tough guy would be like picking a kicker in fantasy football. You’d wait til the last round to say “Brandon Prust.”

So don’t do it, folks. Delete this stat from your league this season, whenever that is. This should really be obvious. How are leagues still set up this way?

Comments (23)

  1. I refuse to play fantasy hockey until they only let you start one group for the week. I hate having to change my lineup every day.

    • You can do this. As commissioner you can have the line up lock after a certain day (typically locks on Sunday night). You can modify the line up for the following week at any time but it won’t take effect until Sunday of the following week. It makes playing guys that play more games an important aspect than just playing the better players.

  2. I’d say it makes leagues deeper, more value in those 3rd liners that would otherwise never be added. Occasionally makes players awesome, like Perry’s 50 goal ~100 PIM season. And it’s not like someone will shy away from guys like Eriksson or St. Louis due to their lack of PIMs.

  3. Thank you! I’ve been saying this for years.
    Who on Earth looks forward to opening their fantasy league and seeing their buddy say “Man, I was tied in the stats with you last night, luckily I scored a last-second point to surpass you after one of my players accidentally flipped the puck out for a delay of game call!” Or “Dude, did you see how well my defenseman did last night? 2 goals, 2 assists, AND a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty!”
    Hockey’s got to be the only sport where being an idiot and lessening your team’s chances of winning is rewarded as a positive

  4. I stop playing in hockey pools for about five years, in part because I hated PIMs as a category.

    I imagine that when Marty McSorely brained Donald Brashear years ago, he helped someone win their league. Which seems beyond crazy.

  5. My league adopted PIMs last season to add spice. The group of guys I hang out with don’t want to be in pools with too many stats or a rotating line up. Out of 16 of us, 14 liked the PIMs stat., while the other 2 guys wanted to replace PIMs with shots on goal, which makes no sense to me.

    Here’s how we score our pool

    Goal: 1 point
    Assist: 1 point
    PIM: 0.25 (so a minor penalty is worth .5 of a point)
    Wins: 2 points
    Shut outs: 3 points

    For my group, it adds a new element to those who are bored of straight up points, while it doesn’t over complicate it for those who aren’t as hardcore.

  6. actually i got a pretty funny story about pims saving me… i was in a yahoo league tied with some dude.. and the only way for me to win was get 27 pims.. well my only two guys playing that night were super mario and alexei morozov so i was fucked.. until super mario went bat shit crazy on andrew ference and got 29 minutes for it.. hockey pool saved

  7. I have no issues with counting PIMs.

    Again, it’s FANTASY hockey. Do the hockey players that take a lot of penalties give their team the best change to win? Well, no, but it’s fantasy hockey. I don’t see any reason that the best hockey players have to be the best fantasy hockey players.

    When the rules change in the NHL, some players become more effective while others become less effective. The same applies to fantasy hockey – change the rules and some players become better or worse.

  8. Just had this discussion with our league commish literally 10 minutes ago, come on here to see this, just great, of course I was on aboard with Bourne on this one, it hurts your teams chances every week, For say, Sweet my guy got 2PIM, your weekly opponent has guys who play on the other teams powerplay. For those who have powerplay points. Wake up and get rid of it or replace it with a fighting major category.

  9. It’s a holdover from the days when fewer stats were available. The main way to measure grit was in PIMs (for better or worse).

    Now you can use hits and blocked shots and such for a much better measure of player grittiness.

    I think PIMs are still around now because they’re tradition, but I can see it gradually changing.

  10. I commish a league and penalty minutes are minus .2 per minute. It actually balances better.

    Look at Danny Briere. Good goal scorer but gets a lot of dumb stick infraction calls. Should he be worth as much as someone who scores 10 more goals a season and rarely sits in the box? No!

    We then bolster the value of Defensemen and Penalty Killers with blocked shots being plus .2 per.

  11. The best (most fun) hockey pool I’ve been in was in the 90s. We used an old DOS program, Prostats, with rotisserie scoring that included PIMs and an auction/salary cap system for a 20 man roster. Having PIM put power forwards at a premium, so in one sense it simulates managing an actual team. You needed to assemble a decent balance of skill, toughness and goaltending if you hoped to win the pool.

    Say that Gilmour and Craig Janney had same point totals in one season. Gilmour was obviously the more valuable player in real NHL terms. But in fantasy without PIM, Janney and Gilmour are equivalent. With PIM Gilmour was more valuable which was a better simulation of “owning” a successful team.

  12. Fine, I’ll drop PIMs. Give me another stat for my league that somehow counts player physicality (toughness? grit?) as a positive. (We already count Hits and Blocked Shots.)

  13. Couldn’t agree with you more Justin. It’s ludicrous that a lazy hook or impulsive cross-check is tallied as a positive for that player’s jacket. I’ve written about that problem last year, my first year of playing ‘fantasy’ hockey surprisingly, although I’ve played fantasy football since the late eighties.


    “So this week I’m playing Hobie’s Ham Hawks in the Habs Inside Out Memorial fantasy league on espn.com this week. Hobie’s team, to his everlasting shame, include one Lucic, Milan. For being a clown tonight, he showed up on the scoresheet for 12 penalty minutes, which garnered his team 3.6 points.

    I hate this scoring system that somehow rewards a team for a player’s lazy play. If a player is lazy and hooks another instead of skating and backchecking, somehow that’s worth points. I know that some people think that a player with high PIM totals is a truculent and bellicose player, and is somehow more valuable than a gentlemanly player, but this is a reflection of how ESPN views hockey, and how the NHL has a long way to go still before it emerges from their self-inflicted Dark Ages.”

  14. what a bunch of pansies.

    • I could not enjoy that this comment comes from someone that goes by “noskillgill” any more. Just works so well in my head.

  15. The point is to find well balanced players, or to have players that those 4-line grinders/fighters to fill your roster, rather than just have superstars. You can either throw that category each week (if it’s a head-to-head pool) or try for a more balanced team. It’s just an extra element to the pool. Talk to Stote over at Getting Blanked – he’s in the same pool as me, not sure of his thoughts.

  16. I’d love to have a Blocked Shots stat in my leagues. It would make better use of the defensemen who we draft.

  17. It’s just an extra field to score and to use strategy with. How they occur in the game is largely irrelevant.

  18. I totally agree about PIMs. I want to try to ‘measure’ the effectiveness of the player at fantasy hockey, not just reward any and all events that get recorded by the league.

    Lots of fantasy leagues are eager to add more player categories to balance against the Reign of Tender that is a central reason fantasy hockey struggles for balance. Goalies are like the QB’s of fantasy hockey, but are more like the half back in terms of their importance to real hockey – an all star makes a huge difference to your team, but with a strong system or an amazing offence, you can kinda put in whoever and win a lot of games (see: Niemi or Crawford or, in my humble opinion, MA Fleury). With often as many as 5 stat categories for one or two goalie slots, the balance is tilted. Leagues tend to throw player categories in to balance, but newbies hate the 13 player stat category leagues and hits and blocked shots aren’t counted by the league officially so there is all sorts of Matt Martin/Cal Clutterbuck bs. And then Corsi enthusiasts start yelling about blocked shots…

    So here’s my pitch: In a category league, take out goalie wins. They win, sure. But so do the other 18 guys who played. And who is a better individual player – Kipprusoff who faces 30 shots a game and loses constantly, or Niemi who lets in the 2.5 goals a game but on 22 shots and wins? In a points pool, dial back their importance. Make good goalies on bad teams valuable to deepen the goalie market, and improve the balance between goalies and players.

    Do that and suddenly you don’t need a bunch of meaningless player categories, including PIMS (which is awful and a throwback to the days where kids watched Rock’em Sock’em videos to learn how hockey should be played – Goals and Guts, boys!)

    I run a keeper league on ESPN – our stat categories are as follows:

    Goals 1pt
    Assists 1pt
    PPG .5pt
    SHG .5pt
    STP .5pt (so a PPG or SHG is 2 total pts)
    Defenceman pt .5pt
    Hat trick +1pt (just a random fun point)
    Shots on goal 0.1pt
    +/- = +/- .5 pt

    Game started 1pt (stay with me)
    Wins 1pt (I know what I just said)
    Saves 0.1pt
    Shut outs 2pts
    Goals Against -1pt

    The result is that Jonathan Quick was still an awesome goalie when the Kings were losing every game 2-1 and 1-0. As it should be. He was amazing at an individual level.

    A 30 shot, 3 goals against win = 1.7 pts (1 + 1 + 2.7 – 3). That’s the same as a skater going 0G, 1A, +1, 2SOG. Both good, not great games.

    Also, the best way to test your system is to put in a scoring metric and then sort the players by how good they would have been last year under that metric (ESPN allows this). If you end up with Lucic ahead of Giroux, or Ray Whitney’s 77pt season at 90th best, you’ve made a mistake. And if Goalies score twice as much as players, or MA Fleury is your best goalie with 42 wins on a .913 sv%, you’ve made a mistake.

    Anyway, with all the crazy fantasy tools available now, there’s no excuse but disinterest to have the classic Goal/Assist/PIMs set up for players and the W/Sv%/GAA/SO set up for goalies. That’s not what hockey looks like anywhere but on the paper record of the game.

  19. Hey, I am pretty sure the Broadstreet Bullies were pretty successful. I guess we can make it like how they are trying to make the nfl. I think there are good penalties and bad ones, thats just the way it is when you have a CONTACT sport.

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