Off The Draw
The hockey blogosphere lost an important and influential site over the weekend.
CapGeek.com, the source of first reference for player contract information suddenly, and permanently, went dark on Saturday night with this announcement:
“Effective immediately, Jan. 3, 2015, CapGeek.com has permanently ceased operations,” the statement read. “This sudden decision is made with a heavy heart and is due to the personal health of CapGeek.com founder and director Matthew Wuest. While this decision may raise many questions, it is requested that you respect Matthew’s privacy and wish for no media or purchase inquiries. Thank you for your co-operation and understanding at this difficult time.”
Obviously, our first thoughts are with Wuest as he deals with what must be a tremendous personal challenge. Hopefully he was able to take note of the outpouring of concern from the hockey world on social media over the weekend.
But while he handles his health issues, the hockey world will have to move on without one of its most valued and trusted resources.
There were, and are, other places to find information about player salaries and team cap situations. But through the years Wuest’s site had emerged as the most reliable and the most rapidly updated database, with information gleaned from what appeared to be a vast network of unimpeachable sources. It became the site of record for financial information, routinely referenced by media and team officials alike. It also evolved into a virtual playground for the league’s cap-obsessed fans, with tools that allowed users to work through the implications of possible trades and free-agent signings—something that could quickly quash speculation about any deals where the numbers didn’t add up. In fact, the inspiration for Wuest to create CapGeek.com was talk among Red Wings fans about Detroit’s ability to retain a pending free agent.
“It all started around the cap calculator feature,” Wuest said in a 2010 interview. “I built the original calculator on a whim to help Red Wings fans calculate whether Marian Hossa could be re-signed at the end of 2008–09. When that launched, fans of other teams started emailing me begging me to build a calculator for their team, too. A month later, I launched CapGeek.com. Initially, it was only supposed to be a cap calculator, but I started adding layers and grew it to where it is today.”
It was a revolutionary concept that quickly became an essential resource in the post-cap era—not just for media members like myself, who often referenced it for accurate numbers, but also for fans who were looking to make sense of a confusing and convoluted system that could (and did) trip up more than a few NHL general managers. There may have been sites that generated more traffic, but few made a greater impact than Wuest’s creation.
So, what now? There are other sites that traffic in the same basic data, including nhlnumbers.com and spotrac.com, but they lack the bells and whistles that made CapGeek so fun. And it remains to be seen how vital and accurate they’ll be without CapGeek leading the way. Looking at them, it’s clear they owe a debt to Wuest and his efforts.
Just like the rest of us.
What to watch tonight
San Jose’s offense has been in hibernation for weeks, having scored just nine goals in the last five games. Now the Sharks’ defense is looking suspect as well. San Jose was lit up for seven goals by the Blues in a non-compete effort on Saturday night, a loss that all but eliminated the good will engendered by the Sharks’ 9-1-0 run in December.
If they’re going to rebound on Monday night in Winnipeg, they’ll have to do it without Joe Thornton. San Jose’s leading scorer (33 points) went on IR over the weekend and will miss at least two games with an injured shoulder. Against St. Louis, Thornton’s absence was felt keenly on the power play, which went 0 for 6 and is now mired in a 1-for-20 skid. Look for Alex Stalock to get the start in net after Antti Niemi allowed six goals on just 27 shots against the Blues.
The Jets, meanwhile, broke out of a two-game losing skid with a 5–1 thrashing of the Maple Leafs on Saturday, led by three points from Bryan Little. The red-hot center, who has three goals and nine points in his last six games, will be under the gun tonight with Ondrej Pavelec expected to get the start. The veteran keeper has been brutal of late, with a save percentage of just .880 in his last five games. Coach Paul Maurice would like to get Pavelec on track, but with a playoff spot on the line the goalie is running out of time to work out the kinks.
Rest of the schedule: Canada vs. Russia (World Junior Championship gold medal game; 8 p.m. EST; NHLN-US); no other NHL games
What you missed over the weekend
• Joe Thornton's consecutive games streak came to an end on Saturday when an upper-body injury forced him onto the IR.
The numbers game
• Of the more than 35 million All-Star votes that were cast by fans this season, 27% came from outside North America.
• In Saturday's 7–2 win over San Jose, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Steen became the first three Blues with at least four points apiece in the same game since Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull and Craig Janney did it on Jan. 26, 1993.
• Mike Russo offers a heartbreaking look at Wild forward Zach Parise as he deals with the impending death of his cancer-stricken father, J.P. Parise. A must read.
• Jack Todd makes the case that Montreal isn’ just Carey Price and a bunch of plumbers, even if that’s the way they’re constantly portrayed by the folks at Hockey Night In Canada.
• Bruce McCurdy says the Oilers made the right call in not sending Leon Draisaitl to the World Juniors—and they made an even better one by returning him to the CHL this week.
• Gotta hand it to the crowd at the Air Canada Centre for recognizing the real MVP for Slovakia in the World Junior semifinals.