The 2015-2016 Penguins roster started playing fantasy football together as part of team bonding, and continued the league the next year in the 2016-2017 season. Brian Dumoulin appears to be the league commissioner.
Said Olli Maatta, "I think it's absolutely one of the best things we do as a team, just to see guys compete in something else other than hockey. It's pretty cool to see when you can bring the competitive side of each other out."
Sidney Crosby won the league the first year, together with co-general manager, Kevin Porter, and followed it up with back to back wins as he won the next year on his own, as well.
It's unknown who's idea the fantasy football league was, but the players all seem to think it's great fun and some even take it extremely seriously. When they're on a road trip, fantasy football dominates the conversation, including strategy and chirping at each other.
The League Edit
The Penguins league comprises of 12 different teams. Some players work alone, while others pair up as co-general managers.
- Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz
- Marc-André Fleury and medical staffer Curtis Bell
- Eric Fehr and Jeff Zatkoff
- Sidney Crosby and Kevin Porter
- Phil Kessel and unknown person
Solo GMs Edit
- Sidney Crosby
- Eric Fehr
- Phil Kessel
The Competitors Edit
According to the players, Crosby, Eric Fehr, and Olli Maatta are the most competitive guys in the fantasy league. Olli is reportedly one of the most active GMs in the league, but works quietly, looking to make deals.
"He watches a lot. He knows all the players. He's always open for business, Olli." - Sidney Crosby
According to Fehr, there's not a lot of rivalries in the league, but the players enjoy seeing the guys who have a hard time winning lose, especially Phil Kessel. And as Crosby won the league in the 2015-2016 season, he was the guy to beat in the 2016-2017 season. Crosby explained that his win included managing a couple of big deals, picking up players from the waiver wire, and making some smart trades.
Adjusting the League Edit
After having finished at the bottom of the standings with co-GM Jeff Zatkoff in the first season (partly because an unfavourable deal with Crosby), Fehr wanted to reedem himself and decided there needed to be new rules in the second season.
In the first season, the league was based on a free-for-all system, so if a player was injured during a game, GMs could pick up a new player there and then. This created an unfair advantage to the single Penguins players who would be watching the games live and react accordingly, while the married guys were busy with their families and might miss out on players. Olli Maatta, especially, was taking advantage of this, picking up and dropping as many as 8 players a day.
Consequently, Fehr proposed a waiver process for the second season, so that all GMs had a fair chance at the football players. Now, when a GM picks up a player from the waiver wire, they go to the bottom of the line. According to Fehr, this has increased the parity of their fantasy league.
Although agreeing that the change was good for the league at large, Maatta admitted that he didn't care for the rule and found it to be an adjustment as he could no longer deal as freely as he had the previous season.
Another change was rewarding whoever won 1st place each week. Fehr explained that this came about because certain GMs would be too scared to make any moves if they had a bye week (a week when a player's team isn't playing in real life). Because these GMs would lose on purpose, rewarding whoever earned the week's 1st place gave them incentive to win. The GM or co-GMs who finish 1st in the league in the regular season also gets rewarded. It is unknown what these rewards are.
While Fehr's changes have improved the overall league, he is the least-liked GM in the fantasy league, partly because of deal he made with another GM that shocked the rest of the league.
"I made a fair trade with another individual. We both agreed upon it. Guys don't like that not everybody got a chance at this player, that I snuck in and took him before everybody knew he was available. So guys are mad at me. I feel like that's just their fault for being bad GMs and not having their ear to the ground. You need to know what's going on. Everybody has a price. Every player is available for a price." - Eric Fehr
Phil Kessel Edit
According to Crosby and Fehr, Phil Kessel's team is the one struggling the most. They claim Kessel is too passive as a GM and should be more active.
"His team is struggling; he's got a lot of injuries. He needs to pick up the phone and try to make a deal but he overvalues his players way too much. He thinks the world of them, which is great, but he needs to have a bit of a reality of the situation he's in or he's going to miss the playoffs." - Eric Fehr
"Phil's team is terrible. Like, it's awful." - Sidney Crosby