Welcome Everyone to the first ever installment of the Neutral Zone. A brand new media piece that will cover anything and almost everything that is NZHL. In these segments I will provide interviews with Captains, Players, League Managers as well as cover other stuff such as league news as well as a Rookie watch this season which is one of my favorite things in virtual leagues to keep an eye on. I think that this will be a good thing for the league going forward as it will provide information to not only players in the league but maybe new players joining for the first time. So without further ado I would like to kick off my first segment getting to know what the Alcohooligans are about this season and what we should know and expect from this team this season.
Sandin: Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to now take this time and welcome the Captain of the Alcohooligans MacShrimp. Thank you for taking time out your schedule and doing this today.
MacShrimp: Thank you for having me. I am glad to do it.
Sandin: My first question I would like to start with is: What is it about the NZHL that makes you want to come back every season and why is this league one that is worth the time to play in?.
MacShrimp: Well first off why I feel this league is worth my time is the times the games are scheduled at. I like how late the games are so I do not feel rushed in my personal life and then I can get on late at night and be ready to go.
Sandin: I agree as a West Coast guy the times work well for me as well. It is tough in a league like LG where they start there games at 8:30 ET which is 5:30 for myself and sometimes I am just getting in the door maybe an hour before and I am rushing to get dinner fixed and time spent with the family before I disappear to my XBOX lol.
MacShrimp: As for the motivation part of your question. I would say I am motivated to prove people wrong who have a certain and almost a big majority opinion of me and I would like to prove the “ Shrimp Narrative “ about me false.
Sandin: I can relate to that, sometimes you feel like you have unfinished business and sometimes it is about proving to yourself instead of others. It is one thing to come back to play in a league but it is another to return and take captainship again. As a person myself who knows how stressful running a team can be, What is the motivation for wanting to return and be a Captain?.
MacShrimp: I think the idea of getting to build a team of guys you want to play with is exciting. Everyone who is a fan of a sports team has once or many times in their lives said to themselves “ Man I could build a better team then this “ or “ I can make trades that would make more sense “. Also it gives the fantasy of building with a salary cap as well. Plus when you can build a team with guys you enjoy actually playing the game with then it makes it a lot more fun, especially if you can create something that has good chemistry and can work to build around it for the future. Results are sometimes secondary but that feeling you get when you do win even though it may be a virtual league it is very redeeming especially because all the other guys on your team followed you and trusted your process.
Sandin: It is true, you sometimes sign up for leagues and you end up on a team that you have no fun playing with and it can really ruin your love to get on and play and sometimes getting traded does not really work better for yourself. I also agree that controlling your own fate in virtual hockey leagues by creating your own environment is a huge selling point to being a captain.
Sandin: So just going back to last season and the hurdles your team faced over the course of the schedule. What do you think is the biggest issue to your team being off track last season? And what lessons have you taken to learn and move on?
MacShrimp: Yeah It was not a pretty picture for my Riverhawks last season. I think a big issue was we did not have the best availability in the beginning weeks of the season. It is tough to put out competing lines when the vision you have for matchups needs to be changed on the fly.
Sandin: I have been there and done that my friend. Some people do not realize when a player does not show or is unable to play a certain night it causes more stress for their owner or Captain depending on what league you are in. Nothing worse than a Captain needing to switch lines and figure out availability but also trying to find a replacement on sometimes short notice. They have a saying and it is used a lot in life “ The Best Ability is Availability “
MacShrimp: Yes but we also understand that this is a video game and we all have personal lives and things that are more top priority then an XBOX league but when we sign on and make a commitment to the league and its authority that we will stick it out all season and be competitive as possible we would just appreciate more of a heads up most the time. Family and work emergencies do happen and we understand but the excuses like “ I made late plans to hang out with my buddies instead “ or “ I have a chick coming over “ are frustrating. I am not saying in any way that Women and Friends are not important but how about telling the chick to wait till later for your booty call or telling your friends I will catch up with you guys after.
Sandin: I agree I have committed to running teams in many leagues for almost 13 years now dating back to the XBOX 360 NHL 09 days and I could create an entertaining power rankings on all the excuses I have heard lol.
MacShrimp: As for the lessons I would take from last season I would say that last time I put a lot of risky bids down that just did not pan out and it became a revolving door of shipping and bringing in players to try and make the puzzle fit and sometimes too much tinkering with your squad is a bad thing. You most of the time never figure it out until the end and by that point you have run out of time. This season with it being a snake draft and not feeling the pressure to spend more than another team It gave me a more relaxed approach in finding the guys that work well together and I know will show up and compete.
Sandin: Yeah you sometimes end up spending more than you want to because A) he is a top player in the league and you feel he can make your team compete with the topper echelon of the league or B) He is your buddy and you have the belief you will cook with your friends. The negatives to this is it doesn’t work and A) the top player is not giving you a choice and you trade him and most the time you do not get the value back he is worth and B) You trade your friend away and the relationship is sour for a bit. I have been in both boats.
MacShrimp: Yeah it can put you between a rock and a hard place for sure.
Sandin: So let’s talk about your co-Captain for a sec. What is it about Geezer that makes you say this is the guy you wanna go to battle with. And what was the direction you two had your minds focused on going into the draft?.
MacShrimp: Me and Geezer have run teams together in other leagues before where we have achieved much success. I see him as a difference maker, he is a guy who can carry a whole line by himself. I mean I finished as the top goal scorer in a different league playing as an enforcer lol. The guy does all the work and gives me the puck in a spot that makes me look good.
Sandin: That is very impressive I must say. Can’t imagine the names under you on that goal scoring list.
MacShrimp: Yeah it is quite surreal for sure. As for direction CHEMISTRY! CHEMISTRY! CHEMISTRY!. I am a big believer that Chemistry trumps Skill 9 times out of 10. If you have a roster full of skill they can sometimes all play like individuals and can end up disastrous. A team that knows how to play together as a unit can be key in late stages of games when you need a late goal or you have the lead and it is time to shut it down.
Sandin: Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes elite skill players can make mistakes in key times chasing the stats.
MacShrimp: Yes, we are making sure that everyone on our team knows their role in certain situations of the game but also everyone knows where they need to be on the ice.
Sandin: I will be the first to say I know a few of the players on your team but not all. To the other people in the league, What can you say about some of the guys on your team that most people in the league would not know and why you think this roster is a good fit for all?
MacShrimp: Coach, Toe and Elmer have played together for a few years now. They have amazing chemistry and have won together in other leagues. Boston and CN work exceptionally well as a pairing on the blueline. I understand that many people in the league are looking past us and are sleeping on our squad but I feel we have a lot of depth here and I see ourselves as a top 3 team in the league if we do not run into availability issues once again.
Sandin: That is quite the statement but I gotta admire the swag and confidence. And yes availability issues always throw a wrench into a team’s plan. Hoping for the best.
MacShrimp: *knocks on wood*
Sandin: Going back to the look of your roster I noticed you grabbed a few players that were on the LG memorial cup Chicoutimi team. Why were only some picked and some passed on by your club?.
MacShrimp: The plan from the start was never to “ Make the Chicoutimi team “ yeah a few of these guy were apart of that dominant powerhouse squad but we took the guys that we had a history playing with. No offence to the guys we did not grab, they are very good players but as preached many times Chemistry is and was the strategy.
Sandin: I can not argue with that.
Sandin: Who is a player that no one expects but has played in the league in the past that you think will have a breakout season?.
MacShrimp: I truly believe that Elmer will have a huge season being on a line with Geezer and Coach. I think playing with those two guys will up his level of play and he will contribute more on that stat sheet as well.
Sandin: I will have to keep my eye out for him then. Maybe I see nightmares of me fishing the puck out of my goal from him burying it lol.
MacShrimp: *chuckles at the comment*
Sandin: You mentioned CN a little bit ago, I gotta ask. With all the activity that went down last season between CN and yourself, What is it that feels that CN is still a good fit on your roster?
MacShrimp: The league may have seen me and CN have our differences a lot during the course of last season but I did not hold any grudge from it. I consider last time a complete wash. We may have had our arguments and disagreements on things but we didn’t hate each other. I think a lot of the meltdown was of availability not being the best so it drew frustration from both us about each of our guys we vouched for. I mean the Bottom line is CN is still a good and valuable player in the league and he fits in the plan we have here.
Sandin: as a person who works with him on the media team I can say my own experiences with the guy are positive. I see him as a real solid guy and a real straight shooter and has done some great work with the media so far.
MacShrimp: He is doing a very good job.
Sandin: I am pretty sure you have read my first attempt at doing the power rankings, as expected you have members already voicing their opinions whether they are positive or negative so I can relate to why you did not want to be involved with them anymore.
MacShrimp: Oh Yeah
Sandin: But I will ask, What did you think of my placing of your team on the list?. And if you feel it was unjustified, where do you believe your team should be placed on the list?.
MacShrimp: As a fellow person who like you said did the rankings as well it can sometimes be difficult to make the list and justify your reasons. However with that being said I feel you had our team pretty low then where I see ourselves. I personally think we should have been 4th.
Sandin: 4th wow that is saying something.
MacShrimp: That is how strong and confident I feel about this roster.
Sandin: Well I think that is all I have for questions about league stuff. Let’s ask some fun questions to lighten up the interview. I noticed lately with all the Grilled cheese talk that you are a fan of the delicious snack so my question is what is the perfect bread to use in a grilled cheese sandwich?.
MacShrimp: Sourdough all day everyday.
Sandin: They say that sourdough is one of the healthiest breads for you. Personally, I like using Rye bread. Jon says Kraft singles are what makes a grilled cheese sandwich, do you agree?
MacShrimp: I mean Jon has had some out to lunch takes in his time so it comes to no shock to hear a take as ridiculous as that one. Me and Jon like to troll each other a lot so it comes back and forth with us but for that take I am not surprised it came from a guy who does not know his left from his right.
Sandin: Yeah I have to agree Kraft singles on a grilled cheese is awful. I love using a nice slice of fresh marble, it is quite a delicious cheese.
MacShrimp: I don’t hate it.
Sandin: I notice you are a fellow fan of the Leafs as myself. We have endured a lot of pain and it seems like it is groundhog day every year with these guys lol. Do the Leafs finally get out of the first round this season?.
MacShrimp: I do but then we lose in the second round cause that is something that I see the Leaf doing to their fans. Finally give us some happiness and hope then crush as at our high lol.
Sandin: I mean at this point I will take it. Obviously with our window right now the goal is to win it all. I never thought I would be waiting this long to see them win another round lol.
MacShrimp: You just become numb to anything that may have hurt or bothered you in the past about this team with how long they continue this charade. You find yourself laughing and enjoying the jokes and memes you see.
Sandin: Yes I can not blame anyone for gaining so much joy off Leaf fans pain every spring so I get it, The jokes and memes are funny though. What would you do in the moment if the Leafs won the Stanley Cup?.
MacShrimp: Oh man it has never been a thought to me. Right now I could not give you an answer because who knows what my emotions would be.
Sandin: Myself I will say without a doubt that I will be the most insufferable human being to be around. They say act like you have been there before, buddy it has been 55 years. Hockey fans pray every year for it not to happen cause they know we Leaf fans will make the rest of your lives a living hell everywhere. And you all deserve it.
MacShrimp: *laughs in agreement* Yup
Sandin: Well that about wraps it up here, I would really like to thank you for taking time and joining me for this interview. It was much appreciated and good luck to you this season.
MacShrimp: Thank you for having me, this has been fun and a pleasure and good luck to you as well.
Well there was my very first edition of the neutral zone. Hope you have enjoyed this time and keep a look out for many other editions of The Neutral Zone in the course of the season. Wanna wish you all the best of luck as you start your regular season tomorrow and let’s have fun. This is Sandin signing off but before you go I would like to say “ Whatever you do in life, Always make sure to KEEP IT NEUTRAL 🙂 “ Until next time.