When you commit a foul in hockey, you go to the penalty box. The sin bin. The cubicle of shame. That’s bad, right? So why is it that fantasy hockey leagues tally up the PIMs like all of the other scoring categories (excluding GAA for goalies), where more is better?
I understand the idea that players with great numbers in the PIM category are usually enforcers who are racking up the minutes in the box by getting fighting majors and the occasional misconduct. And I understand that in doing so, they are imposing their will on the opposition: intimidating the skill players and fending off the counterpart enforcers. The enforcers are throwing the other team off their game and protecting their own teammates. Which is a good thing, right?
However, what about those who are just undisciplined in their play? They take a lazy hooking call in the defensive zone, or even worse, they take a stupid slashing penalty in the offensive zone. That doesn’t do anything good for their team. What if a player takes a penalty with a minute to go, and while he’s sitting in the penalty box, the other team scores the game winner? That player is in the coach’s doghouse for the next week. But for your fantasy team? You love it.
There are other ways to quantify toughness in hockey. Hits, for example. The problem that I have with hits, though, is what constitutes a hit? The officials in one arena might see something as a hit, where another will see incidental contact. It’s not a black and white category, but if everyone’s on the same playing field, it might be a good experiment to try that out in an upcoming season instead of penalty minutes.
Some people say that the PIM category isn’t anything to worry about. The enforcers rack up the penalties, but they have such limited ice time that they don’t produce anything else. It’s a sacrifice and a balance that fantasy team managers have to consider. I agree to that. But it sure does suck when you lose a close week because the other team can’t control their sticks.