Top 3 Sports Betting System Review: Betting System That Work

PGA: No Frills DFS Data - Bernhard With A Vengeance & RBC II: Satoshi's Island

Click here for an introduction of me and the PGA model
Masters Recap
So happy for Tiger. So happy the bookmakers lost millions as well.
My Bernharding Question
So fitting that just like the terrorists in Die Hard, Bernhard too is a German and last week he terrorized me. You may recall how much difficulty I had trying to incorporate someone like him in my model. And then, at one point he was putting together a pretty nice run and it made me think all the more about my model. It is normally nice to have a distraction when you have to look at these mementos of failure for 4 days. But this didn’t help, it only made things worse. I had horrible lineups and this geriatric German was pissing all over my model.
I didn’t just have horrible lineups in my all Hideki all the time strategy. In a week where I chased binary outcomes, I got the 0 instead of the 1. But to make matters far worse, in all my hype for the Masters I had registered a whole bunch of tables throughout the week (and would regularly register for more as they became available). I’d be doing some baseball stuff and figure “hey let’s see what new golf tables are available.” I was kind of on autopilot and hadn’t realized just how many exactly that I did register and by the time I realized what I’d done, it was too late.
If I had a chance I’d still roll out Hideki all over again, but would have cut back my cash investment a good 80% at least. The worst part of it is it mostly went poof in 10 mans, which are the scourge of DFS. It doesn’t matter how good you are, those things are viper pits always full of the top players. In this instance it didn’t matter who I played but there are so many spots out there to distribute bankroll that really nobody should ever play 10 mans unless it’s veteran restricted. I will happily create $109 h2hs every baseball slate and sometimes go up to $500 but I won’t be caught dead in most $1 10 mans. Golf is much softer than a sport like baseball, so I do venture in 10 mans there, but still, I shouldn’t have committed so much so foolishly into such a competitive field. What makes 10 mans even more poor a decision is there isn’t any upside to them with only 9 other people so you’re arguably taking on 3-5 of the guys who’ll finish top 10 in the 100 man yet in format with only 3-5 pay slots. It’s just dumb and this was an expensive lesson. No more 10 mans for any denomination that I wouldn’t feel comfortable tipping into a g string. Well… unless there’s overlay :)
I also want to clarify, this wasn’t results oriented. If I won them all I’d still feel the same. I felt that way the moment after lock when the amount in play was suddenly shoved in my face. I invested that much, in 10 mans, against arguably the best 7 or 8 golf dfsers out there… dumb dumb dumb. I still haven’t finished my bankroll long read, but not playing 10 man’s is going to be a key ingredient.
But back to Bernhard. After much agonizing asking myself what he was worth and whether or not he was playable, I realized how foolish I was being. One of the things I learned early on in my other projections is not to get too caught up in the details. Don’t try to project for a backup quarterback coming in mid game. Don’t bother trying to analyze and guess which random receiver is going to come off the bench for 2 plays and catch a Drew Brees TD. Don’t bother projecting for TE after the top 10 (and even that is pushing it).
The daily nature of my bread and butter which is baseball let’s me better roll with the variance. You see the guys you didn’t like pop homeruns and the guys you love go 0/5 and realize that on an individual slate nothing matters. I don’t have to play Mike Trout despite that my projections say he’s the best play every single night. Likewise, if I just feel like playing the 4th highest projected starter then so long as he’s not significantly more expensive than the other 3 I should go ahead and have at it. Like today, Matt Adams wasn’t all that high on my projections. I didn’t care, I liked his raw HR equity and place in the batting order and I played him anyway. Projections are guidelines and nothing more. In baseball, my projections are the invisible hand that influence the path but don’t shape it. It’s like this for me in the sports where I really excel like baseball and football, my work give me nothing more than very soft guidelines. They help me make better decisions, they don’t control my destiny.
I was letting my golf projections control my destiny. I was stressing out over giving the Bernhard question a DFS solution that I didn’t take a step back for perspective. Bernhard was an all time great, but for DFS he doesn’t matter. He’s that backup quarterback. So why am I even remotely interested in trying to project for someone not even on my player pool radar. I shouldn’t even have someone like Bernhard available for my optimizer to troll me like that.
To Bernhard. I can’t thank you enough for helping me smash the pedestal I put my golf model and projections upon. It was the pain and torture you gave me trying to figure out how I should project someone like you where I realized that very little of what I am doing actually matters. From this point onwards I’m not going to be adhering to such strict lineup construction.
Thank you Bernhard, prost!
Now that we’ve dealt with ze Germans, on to the Japanese.

Return of Satoshi
This is it, this course here is the beginning of my journey down discovering how OWGR is such a useless system. All thanks to Mr. Bitcoin himself, Satoshi Kodaira. This may have been Satoshi’s Island but likely won’t be again. That’s why the returning champ has vegas odds of 150:1 against him winning. If you guys love course history narratives and OWGR then that’s the most profitable bet imaginable.
Actually, I want to do a replacement ranking system based off FIDE and call it TIGER. I’m dead serious, if anyone wants to help contribute to that please get in touch, would love some collaborators and not even sure where to start.
Taking a lesson from Bernhard, this as far as we’ll go with Bitcoin.

The Original Player Pool
These are all the players my optimizer spit out. As always, in order of exposure. It’s a much wider pool this week – a lot of that has to do with course history conflicting with traditional performance indicators. It also has a lot to do with many of the players having insufficient data.
Tommy Fleetwood Byeong Hun An Dustin Johnson Jim Furyk Corey Conners Ryan Moore Luke List Lucas Glover Webb Simpson Jason Kokrak Matthew Fitzpatrick Francesco Molinari Adam Long Sungjae Im Joel Dahmen Luke Donald D.J. Trahan Patrick Cantlay Jordan Spieth Kyoung-Hoon Lee Rory Sabbatini Charles Howell III Ollie Schniederjans Ian Poulter Kevin Streelman Wyndham Clark Branden Grace Kevin Kisner Keith Mitchell Cameron Champ Eddie Pepperell Bud Cauley Denny McCarthy J.T. Poston Colt Knost Alex Noren Brian Stuard Justin Harding Whee Kim Troy Merritt Trey Mullinax Matt Wallace Satoshi Kodaira Tom Hoge Scott Stallings Ben Silverman Xander Schauffele
I was very surprised this wasn’t an all DJ build. DJ is head and shoulders above the rest in my rankings. I think a lot of this is price oriented. Either way, I’m pleasantly pleased by that because I have a feeling he’ll be so highly owned this slate I’d prefer to keep him mostly confined to cash and single entry.
Really don’t like how much it likes Moore, don’t have a good reason. But taking a page from ole Bernhard, I won’t be playing nearly as much of him as it recommends as a result. Same goes for Long and Trahan.

What? No Reavie?
I couldn’t believe it, my model that I jokingly referred to as the Chez Reavie model when I started this blog 100% faded Chez Reavie, someone it usually really likes. It doesn’t even necessarily have any problems with him either – it thinks he’s alright in the ranking.
This is actually an incredibly nice development. It really shows that player stats are fluid enough that the model won’t just get locked in on certain things all year. Much like I was locked in on Ilya Kovalchuk and Anze Kopitar most of the early NHL season, I just couldn’t get past their glory days and kept on believing the breakout was around the corner. At least Joe Thornton held up.

Final Player Pool
Corey Conners
Jim Furyk
Ryan Moore
Lucas Glover
Webb Simpson
Sungjae Im
Byeong Hun An
Tommy Fleetwood
Dustin Johnson
Joel Dahmen
Adam Long
Luke List
Charles Howell III
Cameron Champ
Francesco Molinari
Jason Kokrak
Wyndham Clark
Kyoung-Hoon Lee

This is a nice distribution, the top guys are all about 50% and then the others pop up here and there. I may make a few pivots (Cameron Champ, Wyndham Clark) and still haven’t chosen my cash lineup yet but I’m pretty happy with this build – which should be pretty low ownership at the top I’m hoping.

Good luck everyone
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/r/hockey NHL Power Rankings 2017: Week 6

Here are the individual responses that were submitted by Tuesday morning. (colored rows) If your team is missing a write-up and you would like to provide one, leave it in the comments and I'll try to update it when I can. This is week 6 of the rankings, I labeled week 5 as week 1, sorry for the confusion!
Here is a CSV of the data.
screenshot of the below table
SUPER COOL visualization of the data - click on Rankings over Time, and then click on a team on the right, to see how they've done over the past two seasons (as judged by /hockey). This was entirely done by Lang14, he is a champ. Here is his comment, show him some love:
The process: Over the weekend, I send out a survey to one representative from each team who has previously volunteered. They rank the teams however they feel is best and send in a short write-up for the last week or so. I take all the surveys I receive and average out the responses to give the teams the final ranking you see below. I will start contacting the backups on Monday evening to try for completeness. It's not a perfect science.
Big thanks to the people who take the time to do the rankings and write-ups!
Ranking (1st Place Votes) Team Record Last10 Comments
1 (7) Blackhawks ↑2 13-4-2 8-1-1 What a helluva comeback against Vancouver. Granted, it should never have come down to a Toews Hossa GWG in OT, but what a helluva game. This tops off an odd week for Chicago, where the Hawks played killer against Montreal, ice cold against Winnipeg, shaky against Calgary, and then flat as paper until the third period in Vancouver in which they decided to play hockey again. Hawks need offense from Keith and Seabrook (and honestly any defenseman not named Hjalmarsson). Next week, the Hawks visit a strong Edmonton and then take a trip through California, hopefully picking up four more wins on the way.
2 (6) Rangers 13-5-0 8-2-0 The Rangers had a 4-game road trip this week and did pretty well, coming away with 6 out of 8 possible points. The team's offense is still going strong, though it seems like it may be coming back down to Earth now (Except for the 7-2 game against Vancouver). The only complaint I have right now is they're letting up a few too many shots and Hank is still a little inconsistent, but the offense is still getting the job done and we're coming away with enough W's to lead the metro right now.
3 (7) Canadiens ↓2 14-3-2 6-3-1 The Habs posted a 1-2-1 record with week. The record doesn't tell the story of how those games went however. Chicago was a rough matchup for us, We kept it close though, tough loss. We lost Radulov due to illness for both games against Florida and Carolina and it hurt the offense balance greatly. In both games we definitely outplayed our opponents but couldn't secure wins, crappy bounces our way and great goaltending their way were two big reasons for those two losses. Radulov comes back against the leafs and stole the show with Price in our victory against our rivals Saturday night. The team isn't looking bad right now, we broke our miniature losing streak and we just need to keep our confidence up. The Habs are looking now towards their game against Ottawa at home on Tuesday. Star Habs of the week: Paul Byron, Shea Weber, Andrei Markov.
4 (3) Lightning ↑5 12-6-1 7-2-1 Last year's motto: No Stamkos. No Stralman. No problem. This year's motto: No Stamkos. No Stralman. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING AGAIN?! Another season, another freak injury to our captain. Despite the devastating loss, the team remains focused and is currently on a 4 game winning streak. Fun Fact: Vasilevskiy is the 6th goalie in franchise history to post shutouts in consecutive starts (first since Roloson in 2011). Vasy is 5-1 on the season and leads the league with a .953 sv% and 1.43 GAA.
5 Capitals 11-5-2 6-3-1 Hello friends. Nicky Backstrom is once again the driving force for this team and Jay(sus) Beagle is sent from on high to deliver us from evil, but there are noted holes in our game. Kuzy is an ever growing concern, Williams is playing like he's 35, Burakovsky's production is low though his fancy stats are good and he certainly passes the eye test, and I personally think we have a pretty weak LD stack. But the biggest worry is that Oshie hurt himself hitting a guy, and he's essential for our right side, PP, and PK. But hey we're 11-5-2, third in a very stacked Metro, and there's a ton of room for improvement from our guys. All in all I give the Caps 1.4 thumbs up since holy fuck that Pens game was nice. #getwellsoonTJ
6 (4) Blue Jackets ↑9 10-4-2 8-1-1 The Jackets the real deal. This week, they won all 6 possible points against Washington (x2) and the Rangers. They have the #1 powerplay in the league. Sitting at 5th in the league, 3rd, in the East and Metro in Points %, which we have to look at because of how dumb the schedule is, this is the best Jackets team out of the gate in 16 seasons. To finish what Torts was thinking: We're a good fucking team
7 Penguins ↓3 11-4-3 6-2-2 The Pens got a ton of shots on net but barely scraped a win out from Isles, and managed to drop a shootout game vs Buffalo, despite outshooting them almost 2 to 1. ... What do you mean "There was a 3rd game this week?" I distinctly recall the Penguins only showing up to 2 games this week! You're wrong!
8 Bruins ↑3 11-7-0 7-3-0 The Bruins continue to outperform defensive expectations, allowing only two goals in their last three games. Carlo is a beast, the Bergeron line is a corsi lover's wet dream, and Tuukka has shown the consistency he was lacking for the majority of last season. If only Clode would keep Jimmy Hayes in the press box, the offense could get the bump it so desperately needs.
9 Blues ↑4 10-6-3 5-4-1 Following a crushing 4-8 loss to the Blue Jackets, this week the Blues have gone 3-0-0, scoring at least 3 goals in all of the games. Players like Fabbri, Schwartz, Perron, and our entire 4th line have really stepped up, giving us the boost we needed. Allen has also been absolutely stellar in net, posting an impressive .953 SV% this past week. #FreeYak
10 Ducks ↑2 9-6-3 6-3-1 Up and down we go... RC stands for rollercoaster, right? Enjoy the ride. Oh, the Ducks won their first game after giving up the first goal, bringing them to 1-5-3 on the season woohoo!
11 Devils ↓5 9-5-3 6-3-1 The week began with the tail end of a 5-game winning streak, which had many fans optimistic for the season ahead. However, since happiness is ephemeral in New Jersey, Taylor Hall would miss the final game of said streak, as well as being announced to be missing the next 3-4 weeks. The next two games featured the Devils scuffling in Cali, as they fell to the Ducks and Kings. Hopefully, a suitable top line can be cobbled together without Hall, but the next few weeks will tell much about the resilience of this Devils team.
12 Panthers ↑10 9-8-1 6-4-0 We lost 6-1 to Toronto after ending the Habs home winning streak. We've had some more injuries as well and have had to call up Jakub Kindl. It could be worse
13 Kings ↑8 9-9-1 5-4-1 When Captain Raccoon Jesus went down with an injury, I was afraid. I was petrified, thinking the team could never win without him by their side. Then LA lost their next two games and I thought I was right. Then they won the next two, so I'm not too sure what to think of this team. Our PP is abysmal (28th) but we're 4th in Corsi, so depending if you're old school or not, you'd say LA is going to either lose more games, or win more over the next few days. To sum: we're in the thick of things for the playoffs, but it could be going better. However, given that Quick is still expected to miss a bit of time, it could be much worse. To all the LA fans who are a bit nervous: don't be, and remember, it could be worse (see Calgary Flames).
14 Senators ↓6 10-7-1 5-4-1 The Sens had numerous off ice stories (Craig Anderson and wife, Nicholle, Erik Karlsson's engagement, sending down the Hamburglar) but just one story on it: Ottawa's total inability to score goals. The Sens found ways to get by during their 9-5 start, but struggled to 1-2-1 week with three home losses to Minnesota, Nashville, and Florida, scoring just once against each and finishing 1/14 on the PP. Bright spots: Craig Anderson stopped 61/64 in the team's shootout win over the Flyers and OT loss to the Wild. KYLE TURRIS also played a big hand in what little success was had, potting third period, game tying goals in both contests. Facing Carey Price and Tuukka Rask this week doesnt appear to offer any respite.
15 Wild ↓1 9-7-1 5-5-0 What does your average redittor have in common with the Minnesota Wild? They can't score! I swear, if any one of you says Dubnyk isn't worth his contract I will find you and I will politely discuss this along with the weather over a nice meal of tater tot hotdish. And then complain about how wrong you are after you have left.
16 Jets ↑1 9-9-2 5-3-2 The Jets followed up a gritty shootout win over the Kings with an impressive four-goal win over the Blackhawks. All seemed rosy at that point, and I was ready to put them in the Top 10 if the road trip went well. It hasn't, frankly, with three-goal losses against the Flyers and Bruins, and as I submit this, the Jets have lost their third straight, this time 1-3 to Carolina. That puts a bit of a damper on things, but what might be most telling about the Jets playoff prospects is the final two games of the road trip against the Wild and Predators. So, while this week they went 0-3, I still think they are right in the middle group that at least a few spots in the playoffs will come from.
17 Oilers ↓10 10-8-1 3-6-1 The Oilers have come back down to earth after their fast start to the season, dropping 3 out of 4 games this week. Offense and defense were both issues throughout the first 3 games of the week, as they were outscored 11-4 before McDavid's Hat Trick on Saturday led the team to a 5-2 McWin (seriously, if McDonalds isn't already signing McDavid to marketing deals in Edmonton their PR department needs to be shot.) over the Dallas Stars. Goaltending is solid this year however, as Talbot sports a 2.62 GAA and a .916 Sv%, certainly good enough to keep the Oilers competitive in any game.
18 Maple Leafs ↑5 8-7-3 6-4-0 So we’re in November and the leafs are winning games! What a time to be alive considering this was suppose to be another rebuild year. Positive thoughts: Magic Mitch and his dirty dangles; The Other Connor from Erie has been playing great and got rewarded with a rise in the depth chart. Negative thought of the week: Goddamn Carey Price (unless he has a red maple on his chest, in that case he's a beauty).
19 Hurricanes ↑8 6-6-4 5-3-2 Hurricanes fans are stripping down to their skivvies cause the boys are streaking! The Canes head out of their 5 game home stand with a 4 game winning streak. Cam Ward has been elite over the past week, picking up the NHL’s second star of the week and posting a 3-0-0, 1.01 GAA and a dirty .964 SA%. Victor Rask (8G, 7A) and Jeff Skinner (7G, 8A) lead the team in points with 15, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen are tied for third with 10 points. A tough pair of road trips are ahead though, starting tonight against the Maple Leafs. Over the next week they will face Montreal and Ottawa before making a pitstop home against Florida, before starting a second road trip against New York. Hopefully the Canes can continue their winning ways!
20 Sharks ↓10 9-8-1 4-5-1 Hello Sharkness, my old friend. San Jose wrapped up their road trip with 3 straight losses, but the much bigger concern is Tomas Hertl's health. Will he need another knee surgery?
21 Predators ↓1 7-7-3 5-3-2 Despite going 1-2-0 on the week, the Nashville Predators have looked better and better throughout this young season, receiving points in 7 of their last 9 games. Rinne has played well the last couple of weeks and James Neal has scored in six of the last seven games. Predators fans should feel optimistic
22 Stars ↓4 7-7-5 4-3-3 The Virgin Mary has a better chance of scoring than this team in OT. We lost to the Canucks in overtime. We will probably lose to the Red Wings in Overtime next Tuesday, and I'll watch horrified from the stands of the Joe, and I'll send pictures if we somehow win that game. This team's 2016-17 future is about as sad as my attempts to get "WE DID THE THING" to become a thing in DallasStars.
23 Flyers ↓4 8-8-3 5-3-2
24 Avalanche ↑1 8-9-0 4-6-0 With the Avs going 2-2 last week, there is still some hope left. With Landeskog and Duchene out, an impressive come from behind win over the Wild might be what the Avs needed to get them in a correct head space. We'll continue to take this 1 game at a time, but if Mackinnon and Rantanen can keep at it I expect us to climb out of the bottom of the division fairly quickly. Varly and Pickard keep playing lights out for us, once our scoring numbers get up and those bounces start going our way; I expect this team to be feared. Go Ass Go. Hail Satan!
25 Flames ↑3 7-11-1 3-7-0 The Flames have gotten 3 wins in the last 5 games, which includes 2 without Johnny Hockey, sacrificing himself to obtain the SO win in the game that could make the Kentucky Derby fans cry with all the dead animal abuse. The record of 4-6-0 might be the same as before, but the distribution of those wins comes at a time when most research suggestions a new coaches system finally begins to gel. Our next 4 games are on the road. Here's hoping we finish with a record of 4-2 or better.
26 Red Wings ↓10 8-9-1 2-7-1 90 years ago on November 18, 1926 the Detroit franchise played its first NHL game as the Cougars. Back in the present, the losing streak continues. The team is not playing well and no individual is playing exceptionally well. Some are uncharacteristically exceptionally bad: Sheahan 13 GP, 0 G, 3 A, -10 +/- (team worst). Hopefully Captain Z calls a player meeting to right the ship. AA is on IR. Helm is on LTIR with a dislocated shoulder. Vanek is back from LTIR so hopefully that sparks some much needed offense.
27 Sabres ↓3 6-8-4 3-5-2 The Sabres have taken the phrase "One Buffalo" literally, scoring only one regulation goal in every game this week and one or less in 6 of the last 7. In the same stretch we went 1-6, pulling off a win against the Penguins in the shootout. Robin "Hasek 3.0" Lehner and Anders "Not Frans Nielsen" Nilsson have been keeping us in games that we have no place being in. On the bright side, we got Cal O'Reilly back and we're 7 days closer to getting Eichel back.
28 Coyotes ↑2 6-9-2 4-4-2 Another few frustrating losses. Somehow beat the sharks. Smith has been dynamite, we're still in last place and the Strome hype train is over until next season. Fuck this. If anyone has seen Anthony Duclair please let him know the season started. Thanks!
29 Canucks ↑1 7-10-2 3-6-1 Vancouver had a rather dull affair with the Rangers that no one is ever allowed to talk about, shut up. Lost some footing in the TankBattle against Arizona picking up two points there, then lost 5-3 in sudden death over time against the Blackhawks. I'm so sorry, I lost a bet. The Canucks fed the entirety of the Tri-State area on Tuesday after giving up 7 goals to the Rangers, forcing Papa Johns to give away free pizza and also Mark Messier is the greatest captain in Canucks history.
30 Islanders ↓4 5-8-4 2-4-4 Isles are 2-5-4 in their last 11. They've only played two games in the last week. A blowout 4-0 loss to the Lightning and a closer game with the Pens where they had a 2-1 lead only to lose in OT on a beauty of a play by Crosby. Not much is going right for the Isles and with a three game west coast trip ahead of them they need to turn it around pretty fast if they want to have any shot at the playoffs.
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Wayback Wednesday – Fool's Gold

The Stanley Cup isn't as interesting as it used to be.
Let me back that up. It's not a critique of recent playoffs or different series, but a comment on how the trophy is awarded.
These days, the Cup is given out to the NHL's playoff champions every year. It's a simple system, lockouts aside. The last team standing gets the Cup.
It wasn't like that when the Cup was first introduced. Around the turn of the century, the Cup wasn't tied to any specific league. It was given out as a challenge trophy, kind of like a heavyweight belt. One team would win it, then another team would challenge them for it. The winner would keep the Cup until another team knocked them off.
The beauty of the heavyweight belt system of Cup challenges was that any team, from anywhere, could challenge the champs to a three-game series for glory. This led to some pretty odd champions. The Kenora Thistles, hailing from the bustling metropolis of Kenora, ON, won the Cup in 1907 and had it for two whole months before the Montreal Wanderers beat them.
A town of 5,000 people suddenly was the home of the Stanley Cup Champions. Picture that.
Thing is, it could have been much weirder. One team, hailing from far above the tree line, made an attempt at the turn of the century that could have affected the future of hockey in ways few could have predicted.
It started with a letter.
If the Cup was awarded like a heavyweight belt, one hockey team was Muhammad Ali – the Ottawa Hockey Club. Commonly called the Silver Seven due to their many titles, the team won the Cup in March 1903 and had held it for almost two straight years. Led by player-coach Alf Smith and former heavyweight boxer Harvey Pulford, the Silver Seven simply couldn't be stopped.
One player on the Silver Seven had a reputation that paled above the rest, a young scoring machine named Frank McGee. Born to a rich family in the Ottawa Family, he was struck blind in one eye during a game in his youth, leading to his immortal nickname, “One-Eyed” Frank McGee. Despite being half-blind, 5'6 and barely out of his teens, McGee would lead the team in scoring almost every game.
Before the Silver Seven became the Silver Seven, they had a less prominent player, a founding member named Weldy Young. A young hot-head, Young was kicked off the team after an off-ice fight with fans. Young, desperately looking for work, did what so many other young Canadian men did around 1900 – travel to the Klondike to look for gold.
The Klondike Gold Rush brought tens of thousands of people to the barren landscape of the Yukon, looking to find the next motherlode or build the next railroad. Everyone came to the Klondike to find riches – most only found frostbite, impossible travel and poor living conditions.
The de facto capital for the Klondike Gold Rush was Dawson City, a city of transient labour at the fork of the Yukon and Klondike River. As many as 30,000 people called it home at one point, but by 1905, less than a thousand remained. Those who stayed were often too broke to move.
Young was one of the die-hards who stuck around. He worked as a civil servant and election officer and helped run a recreational hockey league in Dawson with the local sheriff.
One day, Young picked up a newspaper and saw his old team in Ottawa had become something of a dynasty down south, legends in their own time. Young felt waves of emotion reading about the team – envy in their accomplishments, but pride that his former friends had made good.
After reading the story, Young had a crazy idea. He wrote a letter to the Ottawa Citizen, saying he had a team in Dawson who wanted to play for the title. No such team existed at that point.
I don't know what Young was thinking when he sent that letter, but I bet he thought it was a good joke. After all, it wouldn't be the first time someone in Dawson had tried organising a Cup challenge. A couple of sourdoughs wrote to the Winnipeg Victorias a few years prior, hoping to have a game. They never replied.
Imagine Young's surprise when he received a letter back from Ottawa. The Silver Seven had accepted his challenge and had even selected dates for a best-of-three series: January 13, 16 and 19, all in Ottawa, with the Stanley Cup on the line. When Young got the letter, those dates were six weeks away.
A well-intended practical joke had just gone horribly wrong. A team that didn't exist would be playing for the Stanley Cup.
Ohhhhh shit.
Young couldn't back out, so he quickly made a team of the best players the little four-team beer league circuit could muster. It was a motley crew, mostly made of older sourdoughs who had played the game elsewhere before moving to the territory.
Jim Johnstone, a police officer who hailed from Ottawa, was one of the first to join up. Defenseman Norman Watt, a loudmouthed brawler from Aylmer, QC, also signed up. Manitobans Hector Smith and George Kennedy joined, along with miner Archie Martin and Dave Fairburn.
Two key players for the team, Randy McLennan and Lorne Hanna, had Stanley Cup challenge experience. McLennan, who worked with Watt at the provincial gold commissioner's office, played for a team at Queen's University who took an unsuccessful run at the Cup, while Hanna played with a Brandon Wheat Cities team that had lost to Ottawa a year earlier. Hanna moved back to Manitoba before the team was formed, but told Young he'd join them in Ottawa. Young would coach the team and be their key forward.
That left one key void – who would play goal. The job fell to a 17-year-old kid, Albert Forrest. Forrest was the son of two Quebecois gold seekers, by far the youngest player on the team. The problem was, Forrest was actually a defenseman – he'd only started playing goal about a month or two before the challenge. However, no other suitable candidate came forward, giving Forrest the crease to himself.
Young got funding from one of the few rich locals still left in Dawson, Colonel Joe Boyle, the King of the Klondike. Boyle sponsored the team, bought them new black sweaters with gold trim, and gave them a name – the Nuggets.
The Dawson City Nuggets were now a real team. Now came the toughest part – getting to Ottawa from the Yukon.
In 1905, there was no real road system in the Yukon. In fact, there wasn't much of a railroad, either. Most long journeys were done the old-fashioned way, either with a team of sled dogs or two feet and a heartbeat.
Travelling around 6000 miles with no existing infrastructure would be almost impossible, but the Nuggets had to find a way. Young quickly devised a route that would take the team to the nation's capital, but it wasn't easy.
The Nuggets left town on Dec. 19, heading south on treacherous muddy paths almost a month before the series was set to start. Most of the players chose dogsleds, but Forrest, Smith and Watt each chose to take bicycles.
The first leg of the plan involved getting from Dawson to Whitehorse. As the crow flies, that's around 400 miles. As the road goes, it was much, much longer. To up the ante, the road became too muddy for the sled dogs to navigate and for the bikes to pass, meaning the players had to walk most of the way, carrying whatever gear they could manage. The players hiked for hours, sleeping in North West Mounted Police waystations by the path before trudging on.
To make things even stranger, the Nuggets were making this trip without their captain.
In the winter of 1904, a federal election was about to get underway. Liberal favourite Wilfrid Laurier was set to take on Robert Borden, the Conservative nominee. For the purposes of the story, the election itself isn't too important, but one effect it had was: Weldy Young, civil servant and election officer, needed to count the votes in Dawson before he could leave town and join the team.
While the election itself was over in November, Young had to mail out results to Ottawa and couldn't leave until confirmation came back to Dawson. The confirmation letter took weeks to get to the Yukon, not getting there until several days after the rest of the boys had hit the road.
Captain or no captain, the Nuggets wandered into Whitehorse days later, right in time for a blizzard to hit the area. The heavy snow shut down the Yukon's only real railway, a train between Whitehorse and the port of Skagway, AK.
In order to get to Ottawa, the Nuggets would need to get to Skagway, then hop on a steamship to Vancouver, more than 1000 miles away over the sea. Once in Vancouver, the team could then get on the Canadian Pacific Railroad and make the 4000 kilometre trip to Ottawa.
The train to Skagway started running again the morning the team was supposed to board the ship. Pleased with their luck, the Nuggets piled onto the train, hoping they'd make it to Skagway in time to catch the ship.
They didn't make it. They missed the boat by only a few hours. To make things worse, another blizzard had hit, shuttering the harbour for another three days.
While stuck in Skagway, the Nuggets put their downtime to good use, practising on a small local skating rink and drinking beer in a harbourside bar. The rink was covered in sand, tracked in from a nearby quarry, dulling the team's skates and getting in their belongings.
When the ship finally came in, the seas were rough. Some of the players lost several pounds of weight after violent seasickness. At any given time on the boat, one could go to the deck and likely see a Nugget blowing chow over the railing into the water.
Finally, the ship couldn't dock in Vancouver after heavy fog, making a detour to Seattle. The team then hopped a train to Vancouver, where they got on the CPR and headed east.
The team left Dawson on Dec. 18. It was Jan. 6 when they finally got on the train. The Nuggets got back into game shape by jumping rope in the train's smoking car and doing wind sprints on train platforms at every stop.
Finally, on January 11, 1905, the Dawson City Nuggets, almost a month after leaving and still sans their captain, made it to Ottawa. The series was due to start in two days.
The team spent around $30,000 just to get there (adjusted for inflation, that's around $800,000 in modern Canadian cash.) To make things worse, Colonel Joe, the team's sponsor, refused to completely cover the team's travel expenses, leaving almost everyone in hock before the series was to start.
Making things worse was the fact that most players were missing at least some of their gear. The Nuggets, minus Young, met with the Silver Seven and asked if they could delay the games a few days to let the team recuperate and let Young make it to Ottawa.
Ottawa refused, but let the team use their rink for practice and gave them gear, even paying their room and board expenses.
After a trek that made the Oregon Trail look like a midnight walk to the fridge, it was time for the Nuggets to play.
Game one was surprisingly even at halftime (the games were split into two halves, not three periods, and teams played with six skaters each.) Ottawa only scored three goals, and George Kennedy, the pride of Selkirk, MB, got the Nuggets on the board. Even without Young in the lineup, the Nuggets were okay.
All was good until Norman Watt tangled with Ottawa coach Alf Smith. Watt fought Smith shortly after half, then tripped tough defender Art Moore. Moore got up from the ice and clubbed Watt in the mouth with his stick, then two-handed him in the head. Watt was out before he hit the ice.
That woke up the Silver Seven. The game ended as a 9-2 win for Ottawa, with Smith scoring four goals. Some Nuggets players claimed several goals were offside but were not whistled dead by officials. One-Eyed Frank McGee, the scoring prodigy, had a relatively slow game, only getting one goal.
The report from the Ottawa Globe on the game contained the following:
During the first twenty minutes of play, the challenging team made a remarkably fine showing against the champions, but after that they gradually faded away and were never seriously in the running, indicating that the chief fault with the team is that they are not in condition to stand the test of a hard battle after their long trip of 23 days from the north.
Between games 1 and 2, Young finally arrived in Ottawa. Sadly for him, he was ruled ineligible for the second game. After all, no team can just bring a ringer in for one game during the Stanley Cup finals. After building the team from the ground up, finding sponsorship and travelling 6000 miles by himself, Young would be forced to watch from the stands.
In the run-up to Game 2, Watt made another big mistake. Watt started mouthing off about McGee, claiming the youngster was overrated. After all, he only scored once in the first game – he can't possibly be that good, right?
What followed can only be described as the single biggest ass-kicking in Stanley Cup history. Poor Albert Forrest, who at 17 years old still is the youngest player to ever play for the Cup, was pelted. The kid saw more rubber than a tire inspector. McGee himself scored four goals in the first half for Ottawa, then, not satisfied, put in another ten goals in the second half alone. He actually let up late in the game, sparing poor Forrest from further punishment.
Ottawa beat the Nuggets all over the ice, winning the game 23-2 and keeping the Cup. Some records set during the game, including the margin of victory and McGee's incredible 14 goals, remain unbroken in Stanley Cup history, unlikely to ever be approached.
The Globe ran this report:
The visiting team was outclassed tonight quite as decisively as the score indicates. In fact had it not been for the fact of Forrest's presence in the Dawson goal the score against them might have been a great deal larger. Ottawa simply skated away from them at the whistle and continued to pile up the goals with a merciless monotonous regularity which was farcical in the extreme.
The two teams met after the game for what is likely one of the weirdest single nights in hockey history. At one point, Young actually scratched his own name on the Cup with a pen knife. Later on, the two teams took the Cup to the Rideau Canal, and in a fit of drunken fun, tried kicking it over the frozen canal. All was fun until Smith kicked it so far onto the ice that nobody could find it. The group actually left the Stanley Cup out on the canal until the next morning.
After that, Dawson City began what may be the longest walk of shame in sports history. Making things worse was the fact that McLennan and Watt both received letters after the second game, saying they'd been fired from their jobs in the Yukon gold commissioner's office.
The Ottawa Citizen mocked the Klondike boys, saying:
Dawson never had the chance of a bun in the hands of a hungry small boy.
The Toronto Evening Star hopped on the bandwagon, too:
Dawson played as if they were under a general anaesthetic.
Despite the bad press, Dawson went on a barnstorming tour throughout the east coast, where they did surprisingly well. Playing for a cut of box-office proceeds, the team made enough money to pay off their travel expenses and find a way back to the Yukon.
The Dawson City Nuggets are definitely an incredible footnote in hockey history, but one question still remains for me – what if they found a way to win?
If you think about it, Dawson City winning would actually be bad for the long-term survival of hockey. At the very least, it would likely mean the end of the Stanley Cup's run as the title to be desired After all, who would travel a month by dogsled and train just to play two or three games against a bunch of sourdoughs in a ghost town? The team likely could have been a dynasty, but also could have killed the sport, still not fully established at a professional level, in one fell swoop.
Anyway, hockey and the Stanley Cup both survived and thrived. In 1997, a group of Dawson players made the trip again, playing a game against a team of Ottawa Senators alumni at the then-Corel Centre after trekking through the bush for a month. The new Nuggets still lost, but managed better than the old Nuggets, keeping the score to a close 18-0. The trip raised money for several charities, including the Heart Institute, Yukon Special Olympics and Yukon Minor Hockey.
One of the Nuggets' new players, Troy Suzuki, shot a film about the experience called Live from Moccasin Square Gardens: The Dawson City Nuggets' Hockey Adventure. Good luck finding it, but if you're interested, that would be excellent viewing if you want more information.
Dawson never challenged for a Cup again. In 1914, the Stanley Cup became the exclusive title trophy of the NHA, later the NHL, retiring the challenge format for good. Since then, the trophy itself has changed, but the format has been the same for more than a century.
That's almost a shame. We'll never see another team or story quite like the Dawson City Nuggets again. Doesn't part of you wonder, if even for just a moment, what would happen if the Chicago Blackhawks took on the Flin Flon Bombers for the most famous trophy in sports?
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