FUNHL HISTORY...rev. dec 30/06

History of the FunHL

Rev. Dec 30/06 mid-season 17

The FunHL is mid-way through its seventeenth season having survived a partial loss of a season and the full recent season lost to the NHL Lockout, but either way it is a rather impressive accomplishment and this section details some of the highs (and lows) of those past seasons and the franchises that have made the FunHL the world's most popular virtual hockey league. No other is as complex, competitive or as fun.
Before the Beginning
The oldest franchise in the FunHL is the Severed Heads, though they were not called that at the time. GM Cam Hilton's team was part of a one-year league structured much like the FunHL. While the basics were similar, the league itself was rife with corruption and the Severed Heads left the league in the spring of 1990.

The Severed Heads brain trust still felt that the principles of this other league could be replicated in a new form and the foundation of the FunHL was laid. The winner’s trophy was aptly named the Predator Cup. The league would consist of GMs specifically sought out for their love of hockey, moral integrity and the mistaken belief that they would be easy marks for the Severed Heads management. It only took him a decade to finally win it…

FunHL Award Winners

Predator Cup - FunHL Champions

2006 Bladerunners
2005 Season Cancelled
2004 Personal Vendetta
2003 Ramapithicines
2002 Personal Vendetta
2001 Severed Heads
2000 Severed Heads
1999 Bladerunners
1998 Shadowmen
1997 Ramapithicines
1996 Great Whites
1995 Shadowmen
1994 Great Whites
1993 Highlanders
1992 Highlanders
1991 Great Whites

Challenge Cup – Head-to-Head Champion (Runner-up)

2006 Bladerunners (Personal Vendetta)
2005 Season Cancelled
2004 Personal Vendetta (Bladerunners)
2003 Dogs (Severed Heads)
2002 Personal Vendetta (Knights Templar)
2001 Severed Heads (Ramapithicines)
2000 Personal Vendetta (Severed Heads)
1999 Great Whites (Personal Vendetta)

FunHL Award Winners

Omnivore Award – Most Improved Team

2006 The Dogs (+178.32 pts)
2005 Season Cancelled
2004 Ramapithicines (+133.25 pts)
2003 Bladerunners (+121.72 pts)
2002 Wolves (+69.66 pts)
2001 Severed Heads (+195.72 pts)
2000 Bladerunners (+154.76 pts)
1999 Shadowmen (+272.56 pts)
1998 Shadowmen (+143 pts)
1997 Wolves (+104 pts)

Herbivore Trophy - Worst Franchise in the FunHL

2006 Knights Templar
2005 Season Cancelled
2004 Dogs
2003 Barbarians
2002 Severed Heads
2001 Barbarians
2000 Wolves
1999 Collective
1998 Edge
1997 Severed Heads

Franchise Snap-Shots (Active Teams)

G.M. Brian Wansleeben

Joined League: 1995-96, Transferred Franchise (Originally Paladins)
1st Player Selected: Pavel Bure, RW, Vancouver
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 1999, 2006
Challenge Cup Record: 82 Wins, 42 Losses (Playoff Record: 3 Wins, 8 Losses)
Awards: Omnivore Plaque 2000, 2003

G.M. Collin Sanderson

Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise
1st Player Selected: Mark Messier, C, Edmonton
Best Finish: Third Place 1995
Challenge Cup Record: 50 Wins, 74 Losses (Playoff Record: None)
Awards: Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team in League) 1998

Franchise Snap-Shots (Active Teams), continued
Great Whites
G.M. Dan Ross
Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise
1st Player Selected: Patrick Roy, G, Montreal
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 1991, 1994, 1996
Challenge Cup Record 63 Wins, 60 Losses, 1 Tie (Playoff Record: 4 Wins, 2 Losses)
Awards: Challenge Cup Champion 1999

G.M. Douglas McLachlan
Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise
1st Player Selected: Steve Yzerman, C, Detroit
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 1992, 1993
Challenge Cup Record: 71 Wins, 53 Losses (Playoff Record: 0 Wins, 6 Losses)

Knights Templar
G.M. Mike Getta
Joined League: 1994-95, Expansion Franchise (Zephyrs Dissolution Draft)
1st Player Selected: Eric Lindros, C, Philadelphia
Best Finish: Third Place 2000, 2002
Challenge Cup Record: 57 Wins, 67 Losses (Playoff Record: 3 Wins, 3 Losses)
Awards: Herbivore Trophy 2006

The Lost Boys
G.M. Richard Birt
Joined League: 2006-07, Replacement Franchise (formerly the Barbarians)
1st Player Selected: Sergei Gonchar, D, Pittsburgh
Best Finish:
Challenge Cup Record:

Personal Vendetta
G.M. Darrell Mann
Joined League: 1993-94, Expansion Franchise (Promoted From Minors)
1st Player Selected: Ed Belfour, G, Chicago
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 2002, 2004
Challenge Cup Record: 73 Wins, 53 Losses (Playoff Record: 12 Wins, 1 Loss)
Awards: Challenge Cup Champions 2000, 2002, 2004

Franchise Snap-Shots (Active Teams), continued
G.M. Corey Milne
Joined League: 1991-92, Expansion Franchise
1st Player Selected: Brett Hull, RW, St.Louis
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 1997, 2003
Challenge Cup Record: 61 Wins, 62 Losses, 1 Tie (Playoff Record: 3 Wins, 3 Losses)
Awards: Omnivore Plaque 2004

The Scourge
G.M. Chris Erickson
Joined League: 2006-07, Replacement Franchise (formerly the Dogs)
1st Player Selected: Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit
Best Finish:
Challenge Cup Record:

Severed Heads
G.M. Cam Hilton
Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise
1st Player Selected: Mario Lemieux, C, Pittsburgh
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 2000, 2001
Challenge Cup Record: 73 Wins, 51 Losses (Playoff Record: 8 Wins, 5 Losses)
Awards: Challenge Cup Champion 2001
Omnivore Plaque 2001
Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team in League) 1997, 2002

G.M. Bob Chaudhuri
Joined League: 1993-94, Expansion Franchise
1st Player Selected: Pat Lafontaine, C, Buffalo
Best Finish: Predator Cup Champions 1995, 1998
Challenge Cup Record: 48 Wins, 76 Losses (Playoff Record: 0 Wins 2 Losses)
Awards: Omnivore Plaque 1998, 1999

G.M. Rob Woods
Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise (Did Not Play 1991-92)
1st Player Selected Sergei Makarov, RW, Calgary
Best Finish: Second Place 1996
Challenge Cup Record: 61 Wins, 63 Losses (Playoff Record: 0 Wins, 2 Losses)
Awards: Omnivore Plaque 1997, 2002
Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team in League) 2000

Franchise Snap-Shots (Inactive Teams)

G.M. Mike Breakenridge

Joined League: 2000-2001, Transferred Franchise (Originally Collective)
1st Player Selected: Valeri Bure, RW, Calgary
Best Finish: Seventh Place 2006
Challenge Cup Record: 28 Wins, 52 Losses (Playoff Record: None)
Awards: Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team in League) 2001, 2003
Final Season: 2005-2006 (Became The Lost Boys)

G.M. Jen Wees (Replaced G.M. Shane Norndon during 1995-96 Season)

Joined League: 1995-96, Transferred Franchise (Originally "Nightmare")
1st Player Selected (By G.M. Norndon): Thereon Fleury, RW, Calgary
1st Player Selected (By G.M. Wees, 1996-97): Pavel Bure, RW, Vancouver
Best Finish: Fifth Place 1997
Challenge Cup Record: 13 Wins, 29 Losses (Playoff Record: None)
Final Season: 1999-00 (Became Barbarians)

G.M. Martin

Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise
1st Player Selected Wayne Gretzky, C, Los Angeles
Best Finish: Third Place 1991
Final Season: 1990-91

G.M. Bill Donaldson

Joined League: 1997-98, Transferred Franchise (Originally Puck U)
1st Player Selected: Dominik Hasek, G, Buffalo
Best Finish: Second Place 2003
Challenge Cup Record: 61 Wins, 63 Losses (Playoff Record: 4 Wins, 2 Losses)
Awards: Challenge Cup Champions 2003
Omnivore Plaque 2006
Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team in League) 2004

"Nightmare", (Actual Team Name Lost)
G.M. Danny Nasser

Joined League: 1994-95, Expansion Franchise (Zephyrs Dissolution Draft)
1st Player Selected: Doug Gilmour, C, Toronto
Best Finish: Twelfth Place 1995
Final Season: 1994-95 (Became Collective)

Franchise Snap-Shots (Inactive Teams), continued
G.M. Bartek Nagorski

Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise (Did Not Play 1993-94)
1st Player Selected: Pierre Turgeon, C, Buffalo
Best Finish: Second Place 1993
Final Season: 1994-95 (Became Bladerunners)

G.M. Mike Mitsch (Assistant G.M. Arin Sen, 1990-91)

Joined League: 1990-91, Original Franchise
1st Player Selected: Denis Savard, C, Chicago
Best Finish: Fourth Place 1991, 1992, 1996
Final Season: 1996-97 (Became Dogs)

"Vipers", (Actual Team Name Lost)
G.M. Michelle Delarue

Joined League: 1991-92, Expansion Franchise
1st Player Selected: Brian Leetch, D, NY Rangers
Best Finish: Fifth Place 1992
Final Season: 1991-92

G.M. Kirk Wankle

Joined League: 1993-94, Expansion Franchise (Promoted From Minors)
1st Player Selected: Mario Lemieux, C, Pittsburgh
Best Finish: Fifth Place 1994
Final Season: 1993-94 (Became "Nightmare" and Knights Templar)

Season By Season Synopsis
Season One (1990-91)

1st Pick Overall: Edge -- Mark Messier (Center, 63 pts)
1991 Predator Cup Champions: The Great Whites, G.M. Dan Ross

The FunHL's first season consisted of eight franchises drafting teams of 23 free-agent players (with 9 defensemen to today's 8) signed to single season contracts. The method for calculating stats has remained almost unchanged since the beginnings of the league, rewarding players for point production and designating a single player, later two, as the team's tough-guy.

Prior to the start of the league's inaugural season, the decision was made to reward superior defensive play, as calculated by the ‘+/-‘ statistic, with points as an alternative to offensive production. Goaltending stats were calculated on a nightly basis in a complicated system that gave a goaltender one point per complete game played and up to four additional points for a shutout. While goalies could not lose you points under the system, having a goaltender replaced part way through a game resulted in him receiving no points. This was a system that was bad news for those GMs who had their goaltender coached by Mike Keenan.

The first ever draft in the FunHL went as follows:

1st Edge (then Blades) -- Mark Messier (C, 63 pts)
Coming off a career season of 129pts, Messier seemed the perfect choice to GM Collin Sanderson as he scanned through the newspaper prior to making his selection. Sadly, Messier would only play 53 games and finished the year with a mere 63 pts.

2nd Great Whites -- Patrick Roy. (G)
GM Dan Ross was the target of no small amount of ridicule as he examined his computer-generated draft sheets but Ross and his Great Whites would have the last laugh by correctly assessing the vital importance of goaltending prior to selecting Vezina Trophy winner Roy. The Great Whites' run to victory was further aided by the selection of John Cullen, who had a career year in Pittsburgh while filling in on the Penguins top line during Lemieux's injury.

3rd Demons -- Wayne Gretzky (C, 163 pts)
The question asked by most GMs prior to the draft was Gretzky or Lemieux? The Demons guessed correctly and took Gretzky's Hart Trophy performance to the bank.

4th Severed Heads (then the Machine) -- Mario Lemieux (C, 45 pts)
Lemieux was, and remains, a favorite of GM Cam Hilton. The Severed Heads were no doubt ecstatic at the prospect of getting Lemieux so late in the draft; however as a harbinger of things to come Super Mario played only 26 games. His 45 points constituted an amazing personal total but Lemieux's injured back would deny the Severed Heads a chance at the league’s inaugural championship, as they finished second.

5th Highlanders (then the Highland Clansmen) -- Steve Yzerman (C, 108 pts)
Yzerman's play would go some way to mitigating other rookie draft-day blunders such as selecting Darren Puppa in net and enforcer Brian Curran, who had just retired unbeknownst to the Highlander management, as the team’s intended tough guy. The Highlanders would only finish fifth that year but the learning process would pay dividends the following season.

6th Wolves (then the Scepters) -- Sergei Makarov (RW, 86 pts)
Makarov's sophomore performance wasn't enough to overcome the criticism directed towards GM Rob Woods, which continues even to this day, for taking such an unproven commodity so early.

7th Paladins -- Pierre Turgeon (C, 79 pts)
GM Bartek Nagorski never had any doubt as to the name or character of this former franchise. Loyal fans still clamor for the gleaming silver and midnight black colours of their favorite team. The Paladins were satisfied with the selection at the time but in hindsight Turgeon's 79 points was eclipsed by both third rounder Cam Neely (RW, 91 pts) and fourth rounder Joe Sakic (C, 109 pts). The Paladins, with the Severed Heads, hold the distinction of consummating the first trade in the FunHL swapping right winger Tomas Sandstrom for left winger Martin Gelinas.

8th Puck U (then the No-Names) -- Brett Hull (RW, 131 pts)
The front office disputes between GM Mitsch and one-year assistant, Sen, were evident right from the start. The team had the first wrap-around and selected St. Louis Blues right-winger Brett Hull and Chicago Black Hawks center Denis Savard, each player the first choice of each GM. The Puck U philosophy of "Get More" was embodied, however, in the play of Hull who would lead all right wingers in scoring that season.

The Great Whites would win the inaugural league championship in 1991 as the winning tradition of the Great Whites franchise began.

Season Two (1991-92)

1st Pick Overall: Puck U -- Wayne Gretzky (Center, 121 pts)
1992 Predator Cup Champions: The Highlanders, G.M. Douglas McLachlan

By the second season, the league had clearly established itself as the standard other virtual leagues would compare themselves to. Even so, change was to affect the FunHL. The number of defensemen drafted per team dropped from nine to eight. The goaltending stats began what would become an almost annual tinkering. The system remained, in that goalies couldn't lose you points but had to play the entire game, however the most a shutout could earn you was reduced to 4 pts.

There were also changes in the franchises themselves. The Demons disbanded and GM Woods went on an extended tour of the South Pacific, resulting in the Wolves temporarily leaving the league. GM Mitsch of Puck U made little effort to diminish the laconic atmosphere surrounding the franchise other than announcing that the team's nickname would be "The Sens", in honour of fired assistant GM Arin Sen. Of greater significance was the incorporation of two new franchises. The first was under the guidance of the league's first female GM, Michelle Delarue, but it would have little lasting impact on the league as her franchise did not return the following season. The second team, The Ramapithicines, have become one of the most successful and popular FunHL franchises, expansion or otherwise. GM Corey Milne had a rough initiation to the league but had the foresight to construct the first of the truly modern Virtual arenas named, what else, The Cave.

GM Ross was the first to face the difficult task of defending the league championship and the pressure proved too great. Risky draft picks such as right winger Jari Kurri, just returned from a year in Italy, and sophomore defenseman Rob Blake, whose production fell from 46 to 20 pts during an injury plagued season, were part of the problem. A lopsided draft day trade with the Highlanders for goaltending help may have illustrated the real change between years one and two - other GMs were improving.

The Severed Heads (in season two called the Dynamo) would, again, finish second in the league standings on the strength of goaltender Patrick Roy's 2.36 GAA. However, the cruel irony of fate would reward the Highlanders with the league's scoring champion, Mario Lemieux and his 131 pts. The Highlanders victory run was strengthened by drafting the top enforcer, Mike Peluso, and his 408 PIMs as well as the waiver draft acquisition (taken with the final pick on the urging of Ramapithicine GM Milne) of eventual Calder Trophy winner Pavel Bure and his 60 pts, the vast majority of which were garnered in the last half of the season.

The Highlanders, recognizing the importance of the league and its heritage, chose to take the cash award given to the league champions and purchase the trophy that became the Predator Cup. While the second team to win the league championship, the Highlanders and their fans were the first to hoist the Predator Cup itself. That task completed, the defense of the Cup became the next order of business.
Season Three (1992-93)

1st Pick Overall: Wolves -- Mario Lemieux (C, 160 pts)
1993 Predator Cup Champions: The Highlanders, G.M. Douglas McLachlan

The months leading up to the start of the FunHL's third season were filled with much discussion concerning the proper method of calculating goaltending points. The method finally adopted was the system still in use today: calculating points based on GAA and minutes played. The first benchmark was set at 4 pts for a shutout.

The third season also saw the return of the Wolves franchise (re-christened the Merlins) fresh from their tour of Australia. There was no rust as far as Woods' drafting talent was concerned, selecting Mario Lemieux shortly after winning the lottery to select first. Edge GM Collin Sanderson would follow Woods' lead and embark on a similar tour to Australia and New Zealand. The day-to-day management of the Edge franchise was left to assistant GM Tom Muir. In honour of the arrangement, the franchise was to be temporarily nicknamed the Gemini’s.

The Highlanders may have won their first Predator Cup on the strength of solid drafting but the repeat victory was the result of skillful trading and no small amount of pure luck. The first major trade was the acquisition of Lemieux from the Wolves, for center Dale Hawerchuck (C, 96 pts). Next, the Highlander management gambled that the media rumours of an early retirement for the injured Wayne Gretzky were premature and managed to acquire his rights from the Paladins for San Jose Sharks rookie Ray Whitney. Gretzky returned in the second half of the season to register 65 pts in 45 games.

The biggest deal, however, took place on New Year's Eve. Severed Heads GM Hilton made a huge bid for Lemieux offering, among other inducements, the rights to Patrick Roy and rookie right winger Teemu Selanne. Selanne had been on a record setting pace prior to the trade, but the Highlanders couldn't contain their glee as Selanne's production actually increased following the swap, ending up with a phenomenal 76 goals and 132 pts on route to the Calder Trophy. The trade would only make sense if Lemieux could continue to produce at his torrid pace, but shortly after the trade he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease and missed over 20 games. Once again Lemieux, and other gods, chose to mock Hilton and indeed all Severed Heads fans. The Heads would finish third.

Despite the great trades and good fortune, the final race for the Cup was one of the closest in league history. The Highlanders had led continuously from the first week thanks to left winger Wendel Clark who had 12pts in his first three games. With two weeks to go in the season, the Paladins (who had been chasing closely all year) pulled ahead by 2 pts. In the final week the Tartan Army refused to surrender and was able to out pace Nagorski's challengers to win the championship by a mere 6 pts. In so doing The Highlanders became the first franchise to win the Predator Cup back-to-back.

Season Four (1993-94)

1st Pick Overall: Zephyrs -- Mario Lemieux (C, 37 pts)
1994 Predator Cup Champions: The Great Whites, G.M. Dan Ross

Changes would seem to be the only constant in the FunHL and that was certainly true of the fourth season. In terms of rule changes, the most significant would have to be the introduction of prospect players. Initially each franchise drafted two prospects, and had their rights for two years plus an option. This season also witnessed a one-year experiment with the trading of entry draft picks for the upcoming season. Of course goalie stats were adjusted again. A shutout was now worth 3.5 pts, the first time that a decimal would be used as a shutout benchmark.

The composition of the league had also changed. The Paladin franchise left the league for the season. However, the league expanded to ten teams with the granting of another expansion franchise, the Shadowmen (GM Bob Chaudhuri), and the promotion of two minor league teams: the Zephyrs (GM Kirk Wankle) and the Personal Vendetta (GM Darrell Mann). The Zephyrs were unable to maintain fan interest when, after 22 games, first overall pick Lemieux decided to sit out the season and rest his back. The franchise sadly finished the year managed out of the League Office. The Personal Vendetta, conversely, were incredibly successful in their inaugural season challenging for the lead and finishing second overall.

The most revolutionary management philosophy was that employed by Shadowmen GM Chaudhuri, who announced their intention to "do things differently" by breaking with convention and using their first three picks in the entry draft to select three centers. He would then use his final pick to “spike” rookie center Peter Forsberg so that the Great Whites couldn't draft him as their first prospect. The Great Whites consoled themselves by selecting Paul Kariya.

The fourth year's first round went as follows:

1st Zephyrs -- Mario Lemieux (C, 37 pts)
2nd Personal Vendetta -- Ed Belfour (G, 119 pts)
3rd Severed Heads -- Kevin Stevens (LW/TG, 88 pts/126.75 pts)
4th Shadowmen -- Pat Lafontaine (C, 18 pts)
5th Edge -- Rick Tocchet (RW/TG, 40 pts/73 pts)
6th Highlanders -- Luc Robitaille (LW, 86 pts)
7th Wolves (called the Hydras) -- Mark Recchi (RW, 107 pts)
8th Ramapithicines -- Pavel Bure (RW, 107 pts)
9th Puck U -- Brian Leetch (D, 79 pts)
10th Great Whites -- Patrick Roy (G, 129 pts)

The Highlander plan to three-peat was derailed by several factors, not the least of which was an inability to replicate the phenomenal good fortune in the trade market that had surrounded the franchise the previous season. Despite becoming the first franchise to trade a first round entry draft pick, to the Ramapithicines, the "win big" trade that had propelled the squad to victory in the past never materialized. Highlander fans had to settle for a third place finish, but they were spared the distressing collapse of the rival Severed Heads who finished dead last. The acquisition of two moderately high entry draft picks, and the potential value of them, was sufficient to spare GM Hilton's position but the lackluster play on the ice cost the coaching staff their heads.

The Great Whites weren't shy about trading entry draft picks themselves; trading a 6th rounder to the Severed Heads, but it wasn't the abandonment of the future entry draft picks that brought home the Predator Cup so much as a late season deal that saw prospect Paul Kariya go to the Edge for a package of high-octane defensemen. The victory by the Great Whites, their second in four years, was a blast for all "Fin Fans", but the loss of Kariya was something that many in the Great Whites organization would have regretted had he not been later reacquired. While not playing in the year he was drafted, Kariya would score 39 pts in 47 games following the NHL lockout and in his option year (where he would be drafted in the 22nd round), and Kariya scored 50 goals and tallied 108 pts!

While the race between the "Old Guard" pair of Sharks and Scots was one way of looking at season four, another would be to focus on the emergence of the new challengers. The Ramapithicines, in pulling the trigger on the entry draft trade with the Highlanders, had shown themselves eager to win - not just compete. But the rookie GMs were the real story of year four. The Zephyrs' management problems should not diminish their early season successes, as they went into the mid-season waiver draft leading the league. The Personal Vendetta quietly went about drafting an excellent squad and then nursed their talents to a solid second place finish, the best showing ever by an expansion franchise in its inaugural season.

Oh yes, we were also witness to the arrival of the Shadowmen and the ceaseless tinkering and trading of GM Chaudhuri. Drafting Lafontaine, Steve Yzerman and Adam Oates with his first three picks was only the beginning, almost immediately he was able to consummate a deal with GM Mitsch, a feat amazing in and of itself. The deal was of the sort that would justify Puck U's brain trust never again venturing into the trade market. The Shadowmen exchanged Lafontaine for Maple Leafs center Doug Gilmour; year-end stats were 18pts for Lafontaine to 111 for Dougie Gilmour!

Season Five (1994-95)

1st Pick Overall: Knights Templar -- Eric Lindros (C, 70 pts)
1995 Predator Cup Champion: The Shadowmen, G.M. Bob Chaudhuri

With the unprecedented success of last season's new franchises, it was understandable that the league saw fit to expand anew. The Zephyrs had exploded, true, but the Shadowmen and the Personal Vendetta had demonstrated an ability to out-play more established clubs. Therefore the league was expanded by two more teams, the Knights Templar (GM Mike Getta) and the "Nightmare" (GM Danny Nasser), a cruel nickname bestowed upon the franchise by quickly disillusioned fans who took to heckling the squad whenever possible. With the return of the Paladins, the FunHL was set to become a league of twelve.

The rapid expansion of the league raised the issue of whether or not there was now a shortage of quality players, particularly defensemen. Suggestions were made to reduce the number of drafted defensemen to seven, or even six, per team. In the end, the decision was made to keep the number of rearguards unchanged. The one-year experiment with trading entry draft picks ended, with mixed opinions. The issue would remain dormant for a few seasons. With league expansion a move came to expand the number of prospects from two to four.

The most significant hockey development that season was the NHL Lockout, reducing the number of games played to 48. The FunHL responded by attempting to sign many of these stars to exclusive contracts but these offers were declined. The second most significant development was the announcement by Mario Lemieux that he would not play that season in order to rest his back. This announcement created a dilemma; does one select a player that you know will not produce this season or allow him to slip to the prospect round where someone would surely have his rights for three seasons? The task fell to Ramapithicine GM Corey Milne to select the center with his 22nd round pick. The Highlanders, holding the first pick in the prospect draft, selected Radek Bonk instead. As a sign that the universe is just, at least to non-Severed Heads fans, the Ramapithicines' Cup-winning year was made possible by the acquisition of Lemieux in the second round of the 1996-1997 draft (the year which would have been Lemieux's option year had he been allowed to slip to the prospect rounds).

The fifth season's first round went as follows:

1st Knights Templar -- Eric Lindros (C, 70 pts)
2nd Puck U -- Pavel Bure (RW, 43 pts)
3rd Shadowmen -- Brian Leetch (D, 41 pts)
4th Wolves (still the Hydras) -- Brendan Shanahan (LW/TG, 41 pts/ 75 pts)
5th Ramapithicines -- Keith Tkachuck (LW/TG 51 pts/ 89 pts)
6th Paladins -- Wayne Gretzky (C, 48 pts)
7th Edge -- Al MacInnis (D, 28 pts)
8th Ramapithicines (from the Highlanders) -- Gary Roberts (LW, 4pts)
9th Great Whites -- Jaromir Jagr (RW, 70 pts)
10th "Nightmare" -- Doug Gilmour (C, 33 pts)
11th Personal Vendetta -- Sergei Fedorov (C, 50 pts)
12th Severed Heads -- Luc Robitaille (LW, 42 pts)
17th Highlanders (their 1st pick) -- Pat Lafontaine (C, 27 pts)

During the summer between seasons four and five, Shadowmen GM Chaudhuri, on a visit to the planned site for the new Mausoleum, suddenly fell into a month-long coma. The entire league was shocked by the development but their fears would prove to be unfounded when, shortly upon regaining consciousness, Chaudhuri sought to be updated on the events in the hockey world during his "time away". The broad smile and laughter that greeted his hearing the news of the NHL's Clark for Sundin trade convinced all who knew him that the Bob, and the Shadowmen, were truly back.

Next came the business of drafting and managing a championship team. The Mausoleum might just as well been named the phone booth, as Chaudhuri seemed to constantly be manning the phone lines in-order to improve his squad. Prior to season five, franchises had relied on drafting well and making a handful of major trades which provided the fuel for explosive charges towards the Cup. The Shadowmen, under Chaudhuri, turned that strategy on its head. Everything was tradable, at any time, and often before the players involved had even dressed for the Shadowmen once. Players, no matter how they performed, seemed destined to find new homes shortly after receiving their jersey. The fans at the Mausoleum didn’t need a program to keep up, they needed a stock ticker.

Those fans, while denied any real loyalty and affection to the players, couldn’t help but appreciate the success shown by this revolving door strategy. The team kept making gains, all season long. "Micro-managing" had done its part, as the Shadowmen became the first expansion franchise to win the Predator Cup. Captain Trevor Linden, acquired in a trade from the Highlanders, commented on his GM’s style. "They called him crazy, but I appreciate the madness - we get the summer to be nuts with this Cup!"

To hammer home the point that the expansion teams were becoming new powerhouses in the league, The Personal Vendetta repeated as league runners-up. While, unable to keep pace with the constant dealings of the Shadowmen, a solid draft year (including 91pts from Vendetta favorite, goalie Ed Belfour) put the team in a position to challenge had the Shadowmen phones been disconnected.

Of the original franchises, the Edge enjoyed their best season ever - a third place finish. GM Sanderson traditionally selected a solid defense corps and this year was no exception with Bourque and Suter leading the way. The Severed Heads rebounded from an atrocious previous year, and finished a respectable fourth. Their fans took pleasure in returning the previous season’s taunts back towards the Highlander faithful; who witnessed the team’s worst showing ever - 11th. The Highlanders were spared the indignity of finishing dead-last on account of the unmitigated disaster that was the "Nightmare". GM Nasser, the subject of much pre-draft speculation as to his qualifications, actually began his tenure well. Picks of Gilmour (33 pts) and right winger Alexander Mogilney (47 pts) were solid, given the lockout. He also apparently knew the value of goaltending, nabbing Dominik Hasek (96 pts) with his third selection, however the desire to lock-up a solid tandem between the posts saw the rookie GM use his fourth round pick to choose a second goalie in John Vanbiesbrouck (71 pts). While a solid netminder, the move essentially put the team an entire round behind their competitors in acquiring forwards and defensemen. It was a situation that the franchise wasn’t able to overcome throughout the season. With fan support all but gone by seasons end, the "Nightmare" was over.

Season Six (1995-96)

1st Pick Overall: Puck U -- Eric Lindros (Center, 115 pts)
1996 Predator Cup Champion: The Great Whites, G.M. Dan Ross

The previous season witnessed the beginning of a new era and an ending to another. The Shadowmen entered the year as defending Predator Cup Champions, heralding in a dawn of daring new methods and successful new franchises, the old guard had to grudgingly accept the arrival of these Young Turks. So what now? It was a question expressed by many GMs throughout the league. The Shadowmen win had completely upended the way people thought about their teams. Would this be the end of player loyalty? Were they only to become commodities to be mechanically bid upon and exchanged? While it would be unfair to characterize the Chaudhuri method as mechanical, he may be the GM most willing to play a hunch, other GMs felt that were they to try and follow his example they would have to surrender too much of the heart that makes up a franchise. Lurking, in the shallow waters off the coast however, was an older franchise with a different philosophy awaiting the chance to try it out in this new era. The Great Whites and a young prospect phenom were about to make their presence known.

As far as rule changes, the league remained relatively constant. There was the annual adjustment of goaltending statistics; the shutout benchmark was lowered to 4. There was also the introduction of a second waiver-draft. However the radical changes were still a year away.

One team, the Paladins, were forced to leave the league as they were unable to compete without a more modern, e-mail friendly, facility. The franchise was sold to new investors and renamed the Bladerunners (GM Brian Wansleeben). The new owners inherited a solid management group and a stable of interesting prospects, most notably right winger Ziggy Palffy.

The fifth season exposed the "Nightmare" to be simply awful and the league, eager to remain at twelve franchises, either had to grant a new expansion team or the old team had to find new ownership. The later was the course of action taken when the franchise was handed over to GM Shane Norndon. The circus that surrounded the franchise in year five had nothing on what would occur under Norndon’s brief tenure. A questionable draft was followed by a series of ill-advised trades and sloppy week-to-week management. By midseason, the franchise was floundering amid a host of serious allegations directed towards the GM which forced the league to intervene.

The franchise sought out the services of noted FunHL commentator Jen Wees as their interim GM. Noted for her outrageous fashion sense and love of blood sport, Wees quickly dispensed with the suggestion she would be an "interim" GM. Setting about to repair the considerable damage of the previous two brain trusts, the franchise was renamed the Collective and a team-centered approach was implemented. Within weeks, the improvement was visible to fans and to teams around the league. By season’s end, Wees would pull the franchise out of the league cellar, finishing 15 pts ahead of the "old but new" Bladerunners.

The sixth season’s first round went as follows:

1st Puck U -- Eric Lindros (C, 115 pts)
2nd Wolves (still Hydras) -- Brendan Shanahan (LW/TG, 78 pts/109.25 pts)
3rd Severed Heads -- Sergei Zubov (D, 66 pts)
4th Great Whites -- Jaromir Jagr (RW, 149 pts)
5th Knights Templar -- Keith Tkachuck (LW/TG, 98pts/137 pts)
6th Highlanders -- Paul Coffey (D, 74 pts)
7th Edge -- Al MacInnis (D, 61 pts)
8th Shadowmen -- Ray Bourque (D, 82 pts)
9th Bladerunners -- Pavel Bure (RW, 13 pts)
10th Collective -- Theoren Fleury (RW/TG, 96 pts/124pts)
11th Ramapithicines -- Brian Leetch (D, 85 pts)
12th Personal Vendetta -- Alexander Mogilney (RW, 107 pts)

The strategy of constant and rapid trading, which had been the driving force behind the Shadowmen win proved difficult to pursue from Montreal, where the Shadowmen had relocated to. The defending champions would settle for a rebuilding season and an eighth-place finish. While the two franchises with rookie GMs battled it out in the league’s basement, the struggle at the top of the pool was between four original franchises and their veteran GMs. Puck U, under the guidance of GM Mitsch, had their best season in recent memory. The minimalist trading style did not have the detrimental effect many predicted and the team would finish with 1014pts, good for fourth place. GM Woods, and his squad, had long been criticized for drafting well but trading atrociously. In this season, the in-house war between scouts and upper management was finally resolved. The Wolves had their best finish ever, second place, and more importantly had regained the respect of the rest of the league.

The Highlander management had been savagely criticized for the previous season’s disaster so a rapid turn-around was needed to satisfy the demands of team supporters. Even so, GM McLachlan attributed much of the previous season's problems to simple bad luck (notably the injury to first draft selection Lafontaine) as opposed to poor management. With that history in mind, the Highlander draft table must have experienced a strong sense of deja vu when Mario Lemieux jumped to the top of the Highlander draft list. Lemieux’s status was very much in question, rumours of an impending retirement were very much in the foreground, and so he had slipped to mid-way through the third round. Accepting the risk, the Highlanders took Lemieux and were rewarded with a 161 pt performance. The Highlanders would finish a respectable third.

The eventual champions, however, were never seriously challenged by anyone. The Great Whites had managed to win their second Predator Cup in part due to trading away prospect Paul Kariya to the Edge. They then reacquired his rights during the next season as the Edge tried to make a run of their own. In the option year of his contract, the Great Whites were able to select Kariya, and his 108 pts, in the final round of the draft. The impact of Kariya was undeniable, the Great Whites finished ahead of the second-place Wolves by almost the same amount, 112 pts. The drama may have been missing from the final result, but fans of the team had no complaints as the franchise celebrated an unprecedented third Predator Cup in six seasons. To this date, no FunHL franchise has every won three league championships.

Final Predator Cup Standings for Season Six (1995-96):

Great Whites 1188
Wolves 1076
Highlanders 1047
Puck U 1014
Personal Vendetta 991.8
Ramapithicines 956.4
Knights Templar 946.6
Severed Heads 889.2
Shadowmen 886.6
Edge 859.6
Collective 830.5
Bladerunners 815.1

Season Seven (1996-97)

1st Pick Overall (1st FP): Highlanders -- Jaromir Jagr (RW, 95 pts)
1997 Predator Cup Champion: The Ramapithicines, G.M. Corey Milne
1997 Omnivore Plaque: The Wolves, G.M. Rob Woods (+104 pts)
1997 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Severed Heads, G.M. Cam Hilton

Change is a recurring theme in the history of the FunHL and in its seventh season that theme reached a deafening crescendo. On the franchise front, no teams left or joined the league, which was a first. The league itself, however, would change significantly. The FunHL introduced a pair of new awards to compliment the Predator Cup. The Omnivore Plaque would be awarded to the GM who most improved his team from the entry draft. The league also introduced the Herbivore Trophy, given to the franchise finishing last as a permanent reminder of a job poorly done.

There were also changes to the rules themselves, changes that would alter the league in a fundamental way. The league adopted the notion of franchise players (FPs), players who were signed to long-term contracts potentially keeping a player with a given franchise for many years. Player representatives felt that the trade turmoil caused by the Shadowmen, among others, was unfair to the league’s elite and felt that this move might make for more stability. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the Shadowmen would be involved in the first trade of an FP when they shipped Paul Kariya to the Severed Heads for goalie Jim Carey and other players. The other major rule change was that once again GMs were free to trade entry draft picks in the upcoming season. Fans and commentators had long been able to recount a franchise's past, now they had much more material with which to speculate about its future.

For GMs, the introduction of FPs created a series of questions. Do you continue to take the best player available even knowing that in a few years he might be well past his prime? What positions would be the most important to secure for the long-haul? What about Lemieux? The talented, oft injured super-star, had announced that this was to be his final season, if drafted as an FP he would need to be replaced next season. The rules on replacing one’s FP were seen as very costly so the decision would not be an easy one for any franchise.

The seventh season’s first two rounds (the FP rounds) went as follows:

1st Highlanders -- Jaromir Jagr (RW, 95 pts)
2nd Shadowmen -- Paul Kariya (LW, 109 pts)
3rd Ramapithicines -- Keith Tkachuck (LW/TG, 86 pts/143 pts)
4th Personal Vendetta -- Peter Forsberg (C, 86 pts)
5th Wolves (finally settling on a team name) -- Eric Lindros (C, 79 pts)
6th Great Whites -- Martin Brodeur (G, 136 pts)
7th Edge -- Brian Leetch (D, 78 pts)
8th Collective -- Pavel Bure (RW, 55 pts)
9th Bladerunners -- Teemu Selanne (RW, 109 pts)
10th Knights Templar (still the Rubber Duckies) -- John Leclair (LW, 97 pts)
11th Puck U -- Joe Sakic (C, 74 pts)
12th Severed Heads -- Jim Carey (G, 51 pts)

13th Severed Heads -- Brendan Shanahan (LW/TG, 88 pts/120.75 pts)
14th Puck U -- Alexander Mogilney (RW, 73 pts)
15th Knights Templar -- Sergei Fedorov (C, 63 pts)
16th Bladerunners -- Chris Osgood (G, 78 pts)
17th Collective -- Theoren Fleury (RW/TG, 67 pts/93 pts)
18th Edge -- Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 68 pts)
19th Great Whites -- Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 57 pts)
20th Wolves -- Roman Hamrlik (D, 40 pts)
21st Personal Vendetta -- Mats Sundin (RW, 94 pts)
22nd Ramapithicines -- Mario Lemieux (C, 122 pts)
23rd Shadowmen -- Petr Nedved (LW, 71 pts)
24th Highlanders -- Sergei Zubov (D, 43 pts)

One of the reasons cited by Lemieux to explain his early retirement was that the game of hockey had become less free-flowing and overly defensive. The drop in scoring definitely had a considerable effect on the pool in this year as no team finished with more than 1000 pts. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have the league scoring champion on your team which the Ramapithicines would. He, along with fellow FP Tkachuck’s overpowering performance (52 goals and 228 PIM), brought the Predator Cup back to the cheers and manic drum beat of thousands of "Knuckle draggers" gathered at the Cave entrance.

The most serious challenge faced by GM Milne's squad was mounted by the always dangerous Great Whites. The Great Whites had hopes of replicating the Highlanders back-to-back championships in the early 90s, but there was also a commitment to make full use of this first batch of FPs to secure a long-term dominance. By passing up on Lemieux, who Great Whites' management felt would be too much of an injury risk even were he not set to retire, GM Ross went with strong goaltending in Brodeur and blue-line power in Ozolinsh. Even so, they came tantalizingly close to winning a fourth cup falling just short in the closing weeks of the season.

In a year which saw the introduction of two new awards, the races surrounding them proved as interesting as the race for the Predator Cup itself. The Omnivore award had been envisioned as a compliment to the Predator Cup in that trades, the most obvious aspect of a GM’s duties, were an integral element of most successful FunHL seasons. Yet as the Ramapithicines marched towards their first championship the most important status reports were not delivered to the Cave by the scouting staff but by Lemieux's doctors. As long as the Penguin's health remained good, the motivation to engage in full-scale trading was never that great and the Omnivore was given to GM Woods and his Wolves. It was a fitting tribute to their solid third place finish.

At the other end of the spectrum, there was a great battle to avoid last place between Puck U, the Bladerunners and the Severed Heads. Puck U had relocated to the Out of Calgary Conference along with the Shadowmen and the Highlanders which some felt made trade talk more difficult. For GM Mitsch, a traditionally reluctant trader, this ought not to have had the impact it apparently did. More important than the lack of trading though, was the more general lack of involvement in the day-to-day management of the franchise. With no one at the wheel, it wasn't surprising that Puck U went so badly off course. Tenth place was actually flattering. It was a disappointing finish for a franchise which usually managed to remain in the middle of the FunHL standings. It would also prove to be GM Mitch’s final season in the FunHL; the franchise would return to Calgary under new ownership the next year and be reborn as the Dogs.

The Bladerunners had finished dead last in 1995-1996 and GM Wansleeben vowed to never again earn that dubious honour, especially since the new Herbivore Trophy would immortalize the disaster. Thus the whole organization committed itself from top-to-bottom to improvement. The foundations were laid in the selection of Selanne and Osgood as FPs. Osgood's selection might be the more questionable of the two, but there was a long-term view behind the pick and management has maintained that vision as the Bladerunners were the last franchise to trade or replace an original FP. In the end, the rebuilding process would take more than one season as they could only improve to 11th place, one better than the preceding year.

The Severed Heads had entered the season with considerable optimism, poised to pick their two FPs at the wrap-around that optimism did not appear ill-placed. Vezina Trophy winner Carey and power-forward Shanahan were the team’s franchise players coming out of the draft. GM Hilton openly boasted that he may have succeeded in drafting the best 1-2 punch of any team other than the Ramapithicines, who of course had Lemieux. Then, as has happened so often in the history of this seemingly cursed franchise, the wheels began to fall off. Shanahan's season was disappointing and by December it was clear that Carey was not FP material. A different tact was ultimately decided upon - Severed Heads management urged fans to "wait until next year" and then set about finding the tools that would strengthen the franchise for years to come. First came the trade with the Shadowmen, where Carey was unloaded for left winger Kariya and by the season's end the Severed Heads had managed to acquire right winger Jagr, also in a deal involving the Shadowmen. Hilton had managed to get the first and second FPs taken and he vowed that he would not trade either. The Severed Heads had conducted a major overhaul and felt ready to take on the future. Before the future arrived, though, they had the unenviable task of being the first winner of the Herbivore Trophy. It would be the second time the franchise had finished dead last, but this time the occasion would be recorded for all to see.

Final Predator Cup Standings (1996-97):

Ramapithicines 993.52
Great Whites 969.12
Wolves 954.20
Edge 932.32
Collective 877.38
Highlanders 870.97
Knights Templar 860.42
Personal Vendetta 826.96
Shadowmen 797.22
Puck U 775.33
Bladerunners 769.42
Severed Heads 757.82
Season Eight (1997-98)

1st Pick Overall: Ramapithicines -- Ziggy Palffy, FP, (RW, 87 pts)
1998 Predator Cup Champion: The Shadowmen, G.M. Bob Chaudhuri
1998 Omnivore Plaque: The Shadowmen, G.M. Bob Chaudhuri (+143 pts)
1998 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Edge, G.M. Collin Sanderson

By the commencement of the FunHL’s eighth season, the league said good bye to Mike Mitch and original franchise Puck U. While the team never became a truly elite franchise, they were almost always a solid and dependable team that was respected by their opponents. GM Mitch’s almost irrational love of the Boston Bruins was a defining characteristic as was his well-earned reputation as one of the most difficult GMs to trade with in the history of the League. “Get more” was the team’s unofficial motto and that trading strategy may have helped Puck U from making too many devastating trading errors but it also probably also closed other opportunities that might have lifted the franchise to the next level. In their stead, GM Bill Donaldson was handed the reins of the newly christened Dogs and a new chapter in the FunHL’s history was born.

After the monumental rule changes that were introduced the previous season, no significant changes were made entering season eight. One aspect of the new rules that would be tried out for the first time in season eight was FP replacement. In addition to the anticipated replacement of the now retired Mario Lemieux by the Ramapithicines, two other franchises, the Collective (firmly under the control of GM Jen Wees) and the Personal Vendetta, would be replacing FPs. The entry draft also saw the consequences of the reintroduction of entry draft pick trading as the Highlanders would have three selections in the first round while the Shadowmen would not make their first selection until the fourth round.

The eighth season's first round went as follows:

1st Ramapithicines -- Ziggy Palffy, FP, (RW, 87 pts)
2nd Wolves -- Patrick Roy (G, 103 pts)
3rd Edge -- Wayne Gretzky (C, 90 pts)
4th Collective -- Janne Niinimaa, FP, (D, 43 pts)
5th Knights Templar -- Theoren Fleury (RW/TG, 78 pts/ 127.25 pts)
6th Dogs -- Dominik Hasek (G, 134 pts)
7th Bladerunners -- Valeri Kamensky (LW, 66 pts)
8th Severed Heads -- Darryl Sydor (D, 46 pts)
9th Highlanders (from Shadowmen) -- Brett Hull (RW, 72 pts)
10th Highlanders (from Personal Vendetta) -- Adam Graves (LW, 35 pts)
11th Highlanders -- Ray Bourque (D, 48 pts)
12th Great Whites -- Peter Bondra (RW, 78 pts)
14th Personal Vendetta (1st pick, from Highlanders) -- Bryan Berard, FP, (D, 46 pts)
38th Shadowmen (1st pick, from Highlanders) – Vincent Damphousse (C, 59 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Collective – Janne Niinimaa (D, 43 pts) and Sergei Zubov (D, 57 pts)
Bladerunners – Temmu Selanne (RW, 86 pts) and Chris Osgood (G, 113 pts)
Dogs – Joe Sakic (C, 63 pts) and Alexander Mogilney (RW, 45 pts)
Edge – Brian Leetch (D, 50 pts) and Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 59 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 145 pts) and Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 51 pts)
Highlanders – Mats Sundin (RW, 74 pts) and Peter Nedved (C, 0 pts)
Knights Templar – Sergei Fedorov (C, 17 pts) and John Leclair (LW, 87 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Bryan Berard (D, 46 pts) and Peter Forsberg (C, 91 pts)
Ramapithicines – Ziggy Palffy (RW, 87 pts) & Keith Tkachuk (LW/TG 66 pts/ 102.75 pts)
Severed Heads – Paul Kariya (LW, 31 pts) and Jaromir Jagr (RW, 102 pts)
Shadowmen – Pavel Bure (RW, 90 pts) and Eric Lindros (C/TG, 71 pts/ 104.5 pts)
Wolves – Roman Hamrlik (D, 26 pts) & Brendan Shanahan (LW 57 pts, 95.5 pts)

The task of defending the Predator Cup is always a daunting one, even more so when your star Franchise Player, Mario Lemieux, retires from hockey. The Ramapithicines had known to expect this risk when they selected him the year before and, Predator Cup in hand, spent the off season scouring their lists to select a worthy replacement. The 1st overall selection, a reward for their success the previous season, made that task a little easier and Ziggy Pallfy’s 87 pts were a respectable showing. Unfortunately the loss of picks in the second and fourth rounds (admittedly G.M. Milne did have two selections in the third round) combined with less than stellar performances by key players resulted in a disappointing ninth place finish.

The O.C.C., or Out of Calgary Conference, was a term first tossed around in 1995 with the Shadowmen’s move to Montreal. Once the trail was blazed however, others would soon follow. One of the great myths about the O.C.C. was that it was impossible to win the Predator Cup from outside the city of the League’s birth. This notion wasn’t simply based on civic pride but an understandable acknowledgement of the challenges of managing a FunHL franchise using e-mail and long-distance phone lines. The task had proven too great for The Shadowmen two seasons previously as they sought to win a back-to-back championship from La Belle Province, but a lot can change in two years and The Shadowmen were about to explode the myth. Oh, and while they were at it the Shadowmen and their G.M. Bob Chaudhuri would, yet again, re-write the book on team management.

The Shadowmen entered the 1997-98 entry draft at a bit of a disadvantage. In addition to the challenges posed by distance, they were still dealing with the consequences of the previous season’s trades. Initial FPs Paul Kariya and Peter Nedved had been moved and, following a series of deals, the Shadowmen entered the Entry Draft holding the rights to Eric Lindros and Pavel Bure. Both would contribute solid production however not all of it would be for the Shadowmen – both would be gone by the next Entry Draft. If the first Shadowmen victory was a tribute to micro-management, the 1997-98 mantra was “Fight the Future”. At the start of the 1997-98 Entry Draft the Shadowmen had managed to trade their first 3 selections. A major challenge for others was but a minor obstacle for the Shadowmen, he would simply have to trade his way out of it – which he did.

The Shadowmen were locked in an unprecedented trade war with the Severed Heads. The gap between first and second would ultimately be only 14pts, one of the tightest races in years, but with the ability to trade entry draft picks it was also one of the most expensive Predator Cup races ever. When the dust finally settled, 89 entry-draft picks would end-up in another GMs’ hands – there are only 264 picks in the whole draft so this was a staggering 33% of picks that had moved. The front-runners were the most affected of course. The Shadowmen would end up trading their first 14 selections away. Their highest pick by the end of the year was another 15th rounder originally belonging to the Bladerunners. At the following season’s entry draft a trade of FPs with the Bladerunners gave the Shadowmen a 3rd round selection with which they would select a new FP, but the damage was immense – “Fight the Future” indeed.

The Severed Heads felt that they needed to fight fire with fire so they too began to trade entry draft futures for present day assets. The damage wrought was almost as devastating for the Heads as they dealt away 8 of their top 9 picks leaving the team to begin selecting players the following season in the 10th round. The one asset that the Severed Heads refused to part with was their first round selection. With the gap between the two teams so close, it was a decision that in all likelihood cost the team a Predator Cup win. Ironically, after holding onto the selection all season long they would trade the pick, which turned out to be the first overall, during the off season to the Bladerunners. Ultimately the Shadowmen improved themselves by over 140 pts (winning the Omnivore in the process) and edged out the Severed Heads to win their second Predator Cup – the first team not based in Calgary to ever win the Cup. Of course there was still the little matter of the bill.

Final Predator Cup Standings (1997-98):

Shadowmen 1019.8
Severed Heads 1005.7
Personal Vendetta 911.6
Bladerunners 881.4
Great Whites 817.0
Dogs 782.2
Knights Templar 761.1
Highlanders 743.4
Ramapithicines 733.2
Wolves 730.4
Collective 697.3
Edge 676.9

Season Nine (1998-99)

1st Pick Overall: Bladerunners -- Dominick Hasek (G, 104 pts)
1999 Predator Cup Champion: The Bladerunners, G.M. Brian Wansleeben
1999 Challenge Cup Champion: The Great Whites, G.M. Dan Ross
1999 Omnivore Plaque: The Shadowmen, G.M. Bob Chaudhuri (+272.56 pts)
1999 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Collective, G.M. Jennifer Wees

With the start of the FunHL’s ninth season, a new wrinkle was introduced along with a new award – the Challenge Cup. Initially the head-to-head competition was only unofficially connected to the league but the rivalries produced by the season-long schedule of teams competing directly against each other was enough to ensure that the Challenge Cup season and playoffs became part of the weekly pulse of the league. Teams would play a 20 game (some seasons a 21 game) regular season schedule of weekly games against the other teams in the league with the winner being the team who scored the most points that week. The top four teams at the end of the regular season would play in a best of three semi-final and then final for the Challenge Cup.

The ninth season’s first round went as follows:

1st Bladerunners (from Severed Heads) – Dominik Hasek (G, 104 pts)
2nd Ramapithicines (from Personal Vendetta) – Scott Niedermayer (D, 46 pts)
3rd Bladerunners – Mike Modano (C, 81 pts)
4th Dogs – Brett Hull (RW, 58 pts)
5th Highlanders – Ed Belfour (G, 89 pts)
6th Ramapithicines – Brendan Shanahan (LW, 58 pts)
7th Wolves – Peter Bondra (RW, 55 pts)
8th Edge – Rod Brind’Amour (LW, 74 pts)
9th Collective – Patrick Roy (G, 74 pts)
10th Knights Templar – Jason Allison, FP, (C, 76 pts)
11th Great Whites – Jeff Friesen (LW, 57 pts)
12th Great Whites (from Shadowmen) – Wayne Gretzky (C, 62 pts)
26th Personal Vendetta (1st pick) -- Saku Koivu (C, 44 pts)
31st Shadowmen (1st pick, from Wolves) -- Alexi Yashin, FP, (C, 94 pts)
114th Severed Heads (1st pick, from Wolves) -- Matais Ohlund (D, 35 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Collective – Sergei Zubov (D, 51 pts) & Janne Niinimaa (D, 28 pts)
Bladerunners – Temmu Selanne (RW, 107 pts) & John Leclair (LW, 90 pts)
Dogs – Pavel Bure (RW, 16 pts) & Alexander Mogilney (RW, 45 pts)
Edge – Mats Sundin (C, 83 pts) & Brian Leetch (D, 55 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 85 pts) & Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 32 pts)
Highlanders – Zigmund Pallfy (RW, 50 pts) & Eric Lindros (C, 93 pts)
Knights Templar – Jason Allison (C, 76 pts) & Roman Hamrlik (D, 32 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Peter Forsberg (C, 97 pts) & Brian Berrard (D, 34 pts)
Ramapithicines – Keith Tkachuk (LW, 68 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 96 pts)
Severed Heads – Paul Kariya (LW, 101 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 127 pts)
Shadowmen – Alexi Yashin (C, 94 pts) & Chris Osgood (G, 66 pts)
Wolves – Sergei Fedorov (C, 63 pts) & Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 57 pts)

The Shadowmen began their defense of the Predator Cup at a distinct disadvantage. The franchise was still physically distant from the rest of the league and the pantry, at least with respect to Entry Draft picks, was essentially empty. A repeat of their winning performance would be difficult to reproduce. Indeed, avoiding the Herbivore Trophy would be a challenge in its own right. The solution, of course, was to keep digging. GM Chaudhuri continued to trade future picks for present players such that by the next ED, his first selection was not made until the 10th round and the earliest selection from his own picks wouldn’t be made until the 12th round. This time around, the magic would not repeat itself and the Shadowmen were only able to finish 7th. They were able to substantially improve their standing from draft day winning their second-straight Ominvore Award with an amazing improvement of over 272 pts! No team in the history of the Omnivore, before or since, had every improved more than 200 pts making this one record that may never be broken. Still, the team finished 7th and was only 130 pts out of last so the accomplishment was tempered with the reality that the defending champs had a lot of work to do.

The last year’s runners up, the Severed Heads, were similarly entering the season hobbled from the previous season’s trading and would not make their first selection until the 10th round. Unfortunately that disadvantage undermined one of the best seasons ever by a combined FP pair as both Paul Kariya and Jaromir Jagr clocked in with plus 100 pt seasons. There is no question GM Hilton and all Heads fans were thrilled with the performance of the two cornerstones of the franchise but had to be somewhat disappointed with the 6th place finish. They did, however, finish ahead of the Shadowmen in 7th.

For every pick traded away by those making a run, an extra pick would be given to those teams stocking up for the following year. The Great Whites, Ramapithicines, Bladerunners all had an extra selection in the first round and almost everyone seemed to have exchanged a pick or two in the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle for the season to come. With their two selections in the first round, the Ramapithicines selected two solid performers in Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan. With Keith Tkachuk’s continued contributions and a return to form from fellow FP Joe Sakic the Ramapithicines seemed poised to make a run at the top but never were able to get the whole team pulling in the same direction and finished a respectable fourth.

The Personal Vendetta had always drafted well, which was good because their first selection was in the 3rd round, Saku Koivu. The Vendetta could always rely on their FP duo of Peter Forsberg and Brian Berrard to provide a strong starting position and, with a little luck; they might have made a stronger move up the standings. While consistently solid, the team never demonstrated the explosiveness shown by championship caliber teams and the Personal Vendetta had to settle for a third place finish. They did have one shot at some hardware however making it to the Challenge Cup finals.

Their opponents in the finals, the Great Whites, were also vying for bragging rights in the newest FunHL competition. The Great Whites actually finished the Challenge Cup regular season in second place. They would face off against the third place Bladerunners in the semi-finals while the league-leading Personal Vendetta played the fourth place finishers, the Shadowmen who in spite of the challenges they faced were successful enough when they needed to be to make the playoffs. Both semi-finals were decided in only two games and the Great Whites, led by the goaltending of Martin Brodeur, faced off against the Personal Vendetta in the best of three final. The Great Whites didn’t hesitate to take the play to their opponents and were able to take the final in two straight. The Great Whites’ management was charged with selected a trophy and selected a gleaming crystal as the new Challenge Cup. Wining has been a Great White tradition since the beginning of the FunHL and with the newest trophy safely secured in the Great White trophy case, that tradition continues.

The Great Whites may have won the Challenge Cup but the Predator Cup remains the pinnacle in the FunHL and as good a season as they had, they were a distant second to the Bladerunners in that race. The Bladerunners began their quest in fine fashion selecting goaltender Dominik Hasek with the first pick overall, acquired from the Severed Heads. Hasek’s 104 pt performance between the pipes proved a fine complement to the FP performances of Temmu Selanne (107 pts) and John Leclair (90 pts). The trading frenzy of the previous season was one of the aspects of the team’s success as the Bladerunners had two picks in the first, second and third rounds of the Entry Draft. They were also willing to trade picks away as they would enter the next year’s entry draft selecting their first player in the 10th round and wouldn’t have a pick of their own until the 11th. All in all however, the team was consistently solid and consistently solid performances win championships. The Bladerunners while technically an original franchise but they had never experienced such success in their previous incarnation as the Paladins and given the disappointment from only three seasons previously, when the team finished dead last, the celebration of Bladerunner fans was all the sweeter.

Final Predator Cup Standings (1998-99):

Bladerunners 951.57
Great Whites 897.25
Personal Vendetta 865.63
Ramapithicines 835.97
Highlanders 819.38
Severed Heads 804.93
Shadowmen 774.12
Wolves 721.27
Edge 717.91
Knights Templar 703.07
Dogs 682.85
Collective 641.49

Season Ten (1999-00)
1st Pick Overall: Edge – Dominick Hasek, (G, 44 pts)
2000 Predator Cup Champion: The Severed Heads, G.M. Cam Hilton
2000 Challenge Cup Champion: The Personal Vendetta, G.M. Darrell Mann
2000 Omnivore Plaque: The Bladerunners, G.M. Brian Wansleeben (+154.76 pts)
2000 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Wolves, G.M. Rob Woods

The FunHL was entering its tenth season and the sense of myth and lore surrounding the league had firmly taken hold. The league’s most successful franchise was the 3-time champion Great Whites. The Highlanders held the distinction as the only back-to-back champions. The expansion team curse had been dispelled, aptly, by the Shadowmen – twice – as well as the Ramapithicines. Now the Bladerunners had hoisted the cup for the first time. Two great myths remained: no married GM had ever won the Predator Cup and the Severed Heads were cursed to never do so. Maybe, just maybe, the hockey gods might relent this season…or at least blink.

The tenth season’s first round went as follows:

1st Edge (from Bladerunners) – Dominik Hasek (G, 44 pts)
2nd Great Whites (from Personal Vendetta) – Chris Pronger, FP, (D, 62 pts)
3rd Severed Heads – Mike Modano (C, 81 pts)
4th Severed Heads (from Shadowmen) – Ed Belfour (G, 84 pts)
5th Personal Vendetta (from Great Whites) – Theoren Fleury (RW, 64 pts)
6th Edge (from Wolves) – Tony Amonte (RW, 84 pts)
7th Wolves (from Edge) – Rod Brind’Amour (C, 22 pts)
8th Collective – Brendan Shanahan (LW, 78 pts)
9th Knights Templar – Peter Sykora (RW, 68 pts)
10th Severed Heads (from Highlanders) – Scott Niedermayer (D, 38 pts)
11th Dogs – Al MacInnis (D, 39 pts)
12th Ramapithicines – Sergei Samsonov (LW, 45 pts)
15th Highlanders (1st pick) – Steve Yzerman (C, 79 pts)
113th Shadowmen (1st pick, from Collective) – Patrick Marleau (C, 40 pts)
115th Bladerunners (1st pick, from Wolves) – Brian Rolston (LW, 31 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Collective – Sergei Zubov (D, 42 pts) & Mats Sundin (C, 73 pts)
Bladerunners – Temmu Selanne (RW, 85 pts) & John Leclair (LW, 77 pts)
Dogs – Pavel Bure (RW, 94 pts) & Alexi Yashin (C, 0 pts)
Edge – Roman Hamrlik (D, 45 pts) & Brian Leetch (D, 26 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 91 pts) & Chris Pronger (D, 62 pts)
Highlanders – Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 73 pts) & Eric Lindros (C, 59 pts)
Knights Templar – Jason Allison (C, 28 pts) & Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 52 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Peter Forsberg (C, 51 pts) & Brian Berrard (D, 30 pts)
Ramapithicines – Keith Tkachuk (LW, 43 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 81 pts)
Severed Heads – Paul Kariya (LW, 86 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 96 pts)
Shadowmen – Sergei Fedorov (C, 62 pts) & Janne Niinimaa (D, 33 pts)
Wolves – Zigmund Pallfy (RW, 66 pts) & Chris Osgood (G, 58 pts)

The defending Predator Cup Champion Bladerunners entered the tenth season with a familiar problem, like the Shadowmen the year before there wasn’t much left in reserve upon which to mount a Cup defense. The race to victory had been fueled, in large part, by trading away the team’s future and as the Entry Draft approached, so did the bill collectors. Much as the Shadowmen before them, the Bladerunners opted for a familiar solution – keep going. They would not trade their first three picks, or their FPs, but almost anything else was on the table if it could spare them the shame of finishing last. In truth they did quite respectably in finishing fifth on route to winning their first Omnivore Award.

The inspiration for the Bladerunners’ strategy, the Shadowmen, were still reeling from the after effects of their Cup run two years prior and showed no signs of slowing down the trade frenzy that had gripped the management team. Indeed, what else could they do if they wanted to finish out of the basement? The team began to trade its future away and by the end of the season had traded all but six of their own selections away in various deals – the earliest remaining pick being in the fifteenth round. The Shadowmen would, just prior to the 2000-2001 Entry Draft, acquire a second round pick with which the would select a new Franchise Player but the “fight the future” game plan was still being employed. The Shadowmen would finish a disappointing ninth and in spite of their extensive efforts were only 30 some points out of last place. Sooner or later, the “fight the future” strategy would have to be abandoned for no other reason than there was increasing less and less future to fight.

While the Shadowmen chose to swim against the current of their own creation in a bid to repeat, their closest rivals from that cup run decided on a different strategy. The Severed Heads’ management determined that the price of making a Cup run necessitated trading away future assets for current gains. It may produce a feast or famine situation but if one could “cycle” their teams in alternating years they might be able to improve their chances of winning, something that the Severed Heads were desperate to do. They set about doing exactly that. While continuing to hold on to their two FPs, the Severed Heads had managed to consistently trade up in the draft so that on draft day they owned three picks in the first round, and two picks in each of the second, third and fourth rounds. As the year progressed they further expanded on their advantage by trading away Entry Draft picks from the upcoming Entry Draft. The combination was exactly the plan for success that had eluded the Severed Heads for all these years, the narrow, bitter defeats – a distant memory. The championship had finally arrived home to the league’s oldest franchise and the curse was lifted. The Severed Heads were, finally, Predator Cup Champions.

The closest challengers to the eventual Predator Cup Champions as the season wore on were the Personal Vendetta. The Vendetta management was not oblivious to the new strategy of fire-sale trades to fuel a run and the team known for its drafting demonstrated a keen eye for trading those same picks. Eventually they would trade their first 6 selections in the following year’s entry draft. If this was the new game, the Vendetta were willing to play. Even so, the gap from first to second of some 80+ pts was actually flattering to the Vendetta who made up considerable ground in the final weeks of the year as the Severed Heads tried to prepare the team for a possible Cup defense the following season. One consequence of this late season retrenchment by the Severed Heads was that the Challenge Cup playoffs became a surprisingly close contest.

The Heads, not surprisingly, had the league’s best record entering the playoffs and faced off against the fourth place Highlanders in the semi-finals, a fine accomplishment merely to make the playoffs as the team would finish 7th in the Predator Cup race. The contest, in spite of the bitter rivalry between the two franchises, was a mismatch and the Severed Heads moved on to the final winning two straight. The Personal Vendetta had a similarly easy time defeating the Dogs in two straight setting up their second straight trip to the finals. With the class of the league distracted by preparations for next season, the Personal Vendetta finished the task left undone last season and won their first major FunHL award, the Challenge Cup. As satisfying as the Predator Cup win was for the Heads’ management and fans, the same could be said of the Vendetta’s management and fans – the great drafts had finally been converted to end of season success. Moving forward into the league’s second decade, both franchises longed for more.

Final Predator Cup Standings (1999-00):
Severed Heads 993.66
Personal Vendetta 911.16
Knights Templar 867.97
Dogs 834.88
Bladerunners 829.07
Ramapithicines 826.74
Highlanders 808.31
Collective 782.59
Shadowmen 774.86
Great Whites 768.22
Edge 763.61
Wolves 742.25

Season Eleven (2000-01)

1st Pick Overall: Highlanders (from Personal Vendetta) – Mike Modano (C, 84 pts)
2001 Predator Cup Champion: The Severed Heads, G.M. Cam Hilton
2001 Challenge Cup Champion: The Severed Heads, G.M. Cam Hilton
2001 Omnivore Plaque: The Severed Heads, G.M. Cam Hilton (+195.72 pts)
2001 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Barbarians, G.M. Mike Brekenridge

With the FunHL’s founder poised to defend the Predator Cup for the first time, an era had come to an end. Another change was to occur when GM Jen Wees announced that she would no longer be able to manage the Collective franchise. A new GM was sought out and Mike Breakenridge agreed to man the helm of the franchise. The team was rechristened the Barbarians and the first order of business was to remold the team in the new GM’s image. Trading away their first round selection, the plan was to completely overhaul the direction of the franchise. Coming off a career year, speedy winger Valeri Bure was tabbed by the new GM, in the fourth round, as the franchise’s newest FP. For better or worse, the Barbarians were coming.

The eleventh season’s first round went as follows:

1st Highlanders (from Personal Vendetta) – Mike Modano (C, 84 pts)
2nd Great Whites – Pierre Turgeon (C, 82 pts)
3rd Highlanders (from Dogs) – Roman Turek (G, 66 pts)
4th Severed Heads – Mark Recchi (RW, 77 pts)
5th Dogs (from Knights Templar) – Luc Robitaille (LW, 88 pts)
6th Bladerunners – Tony Amonte (RW, 64 pts)
7th Ramapithicines – Ed Belfour (G, 22 pts)
8th Wolves – Pavel Demitra (RW, 45 pts)
9th Highlanders (from Edge) – Oleg Tverdovsky (D, 53 pts)
10th Great Whites (from Shadowmen) – Ray Whitney (LW, 34 pts)
11th Bladerunners (from Barbarians) – Sergei Zubov (D, 51 pts)
12th Highlanders – Martin Straka (LW, 95 pts)
33rd Edge (1st pick) – Patrick Elias, FP, (LW, 96 pts)
43rd Barbarians (1st pick, from Bladerunners) –Valeri Bure, FP, (RW, 55 pts)
73rd Personal Vendetta (1st pick) – Sami Kapanen (RW, 57 pts)
125th Knights Templar (1st pick) – Milan Hejduk, FP, (RW, 79 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Barbarians – Valeri Bure (RW, 55 pts) & Jason Allison (C, 95 pts)
Bladerunners – Teemu Selanne (RW, 72 pts) & John Leclair (LW, 12 pts)
Dogs – Pavel Bure (RW, 92 pts) & Eric Lindros (C, 0 pts)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW, 96 pts) & Marion Hossa (RW, 75 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 85 pts) & Chris Pronger (D, 47 pts)
Highlanders – Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 71 pts) & Alexi Yashin (C, 88 pts)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW, 79 pts) & Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 44 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Peter Forsberg (C, 89 pts) & Sergei Fedorov (C, 69 pts)
Ramapithicines – Keith Tkachuk (LW, 79 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 118 pts)
Severed Heads – Paul Kariya (LW, 67 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 121 pts)
Shadowmen – Mats Sundin (C, 74 pts) & Brian Boucher (G, 6 pts)
Wolves – Zigmund Pallfy (RW, 89 pts) & Brian Leetch (D, 79 pts)

The Highlanders had a problem. They hadn’t won a championship in a long, long time. Indeed most GMs in the league had never witnessed a Highlander victory as it was so distant. Entering the 2000-01 season, the Highlanders management team sought to put an end to the drought. The quest began the previous season with focus being the Entry Draft. Previously, three years previously to be exact, the Highlanders had accumulated multiple picks in the first round of the Entry Draft in an effort to make their run but while most of those selections were solid it did not result in the post-draft domination many had expected. This year the Highlander’s vowed to do it differently. Not only had GM McLachlan accumulated picks at the high end of the draft, three selections in the first round and two more in the second, he had also shed his low end picks in an effort to improve his depth. As a result, the Highlanders were finished the, non FP portion, of their draft in the fourteenth round while most GMs were still filling out their active line-up. Now the question became, could they translate a solid draft into a legitimate run for the Predator Cup.

The defending Predator Cup champions were committed to securing a win of their own, back-to-back championships was a feat accomplished only once before in league history by, none other than, the Highlanders. As the previous season’s romp to the Cup came to a close the Severed Head’s management was keenly aware that the trades of Entry Draft picks which had built their win had also put at risk their prospects for defending the championship. GM Hilton had seen the tailspin that the Shadowmen had fallen into after their win in 1998 and had no desire to repeat it. As a result, prior to officially winning their Cup, efforts were made to repair the damage. Still down many top end selections, the Severed Heads stocked up on mid-level picks, such as three selections in the seventh round, to try and stem the tide.

As the season wore on both the Highlanders and the Severed Heads engaged in the, now ritual, scorched earth policy of trading draft picks for the upcoming year’s Entry Draft, the Highlanders would ultimately trade away their first six selections while the Severed Heads would trade away their first thirteen. The Highlander’s starting FPs, Alexi Yashin at 75pts and Nicklas Lidstrom with 59 pts, were evenly matched with the Severed Heads’ pair: Jaromir Jagr at 79pts and Paul Kariya at 57pts. Even so, one team needed one more weapon to finish the deal. Just such a weapon was preparing to be unleashed.

As the 2000-01 Entry Draft came to a close a significant decision was being made two time-zones away. The rumours would begin to filter out in the weeks that followed that a possible comeback was in the offing. Mario Lemieux was on skates, working out and was aiming to return to hockey. Lemieux was not selected in the 2000-01 Entry Draft or the Prospect Draft that followed, why should he be – he had retired, but by the time the second waiver draft had arrived the anticipation of Lemieux’s intended return to the FunHL created a palpable buzz amongst hockey fans everywhere. When he finally stepped onto the ice that season he didn’t appear to have lost a step notching a phenomenal 76 pts, 35 of them goals, in a mere 43 games. His contribution could clearly tip the balance in the fight for first and many teams made a bid for his services. The Severed Heads had a cruel history with Mario Lemieux dating back to the first season in the league, but also knew that not having Lemieux in one’s line-up was even more devastating than having him go down injured. The Head’s management made a pitch to the Knights Templar GM, then in last place and in possession of the first pick in the second waiver draft where Lemieux was selected. The move gave the Knights enough to hold off the Barbarians in the race to avoid the Herbivore Trophy and the draft picks were partly responsible for the Knights’ impressive third place finish the following season. For the Severed Heads, a trio of Penguins would lead the charge to the finish: Jaromir Jagr, Alexi Kovalev and Mario Lemieux.

The ultimate victory by the Severed Heads came down to the final weekend. The Highlanders had pulled 8 points ahead going into the final week but that lead had been eroded by the final weekend into a horserace. Lemieux and company had a stellar Saturday and by the end of the weekend the Severed Heads had pulled back into the lead by a mere 12 points, one of the closest Predator Cup races in history. The Severed Heads’ made a fair amount of history that season in winning the FunHL’s first “triple crown” by winning the Predator Cup, Omnivore Award and Challenge Cup all in the same season. The Heads’ +195.72 points in the Omnivore race was the second highest improvement in the Award’s history. In winning the Challenge Cup, the Severed Heads made history again as they defeated the Ramapithicines 2 games to 1 in the Challenge Cup finals, the first playoff series to ever go all three games. It was a storybook season for the league’s oldest franchise; what could possibly go wrong?

Final Predator Cup Standings (2000-01): Severed Heads 1111.89
Highlanders 1099.04
Ramapithicines 1035.75
Wolves 1027.94
Bladerunners 923.29
Great Whites 869.46
Personal Vendetta 797.96
Dogs 789.6633
Edge 789.5967
Shadowmen 789.1867
Knights Templar 708.02
Barbarians 681.12

Season Twelve (2001-02)

1st Pick Overall: Dogs – Mario Lemieux, FP, (C, 31 pts)
2002 Predator Cup Champion: The Personal Vendetta, G.M. Darrell Mann
2002 Challenge Cup Champion: The Personal Vendetta, G.M. Darrell Mann
2002 Omnivore Plaque: The Wolves, G.M. Rob Woods (+69.66 pts)
2002 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Severed Heads, G.M. Cam Hilton

The Severed Heads were now two time champions having just completed a season for the ages. The repeat championship was unlikely but a third straight championship would be decidedly unlikely as their first selection in the draft wouldn’t even begin until the 135th player, Ron Francis. A steep climb to be sure. The first round in the 2001 Entry Draft was dominated by teams making multiple selections: the Dogs, Edge, Personal Vendetta, and Knights Templar all had two picks in the first round while the Bladerunners would have three picks. Not surprising as again over 50% of all picks had been exchanged by the time the Entry Draft had taken place. While there was a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the amount of Entry Draft pick trading, the changes to the system would not be made for another year. This year, the rules would remain.

The twelfth season’s first round went as follows:

1st Dogs (from Great Whites) – Mario Lemieux, FP, (C, 31 pts)
2nd Edge – Mark Recchi (RW, 64 pts)
3rd Dogs – Martin Straka (LW, 9 pts)
4th Bladerunners – Alexi Kovalev (RW, 76 pts)
5th Personal Vendetta (from Shadowmen) – Dominick Hasek (G, 86 pts)
6th Knights Templar – Jeremy Roenick (C, 67 pts)
7th Knights Templar (from Ramapithicines) – Brendan Shanahan (LW, 75 pts)
8th Bladerunners (from Severed Heads) – Doug Weight (C, 49 pts)
9th Bladerunners (from Barbarians) – Owen Nolan (RW, 63 pts)
10th Great Whites (from Wolves) – Petr Sykora (LW, 48 pts)
11th Personal Vendetta – Markus Naslund (LW, 90 pts)
12th Edge (from Highlanders) – Olaf Kolzig (G, 49 pts)
61st Highlanders (1st pick) – Peter Worrell (LW, 9 pts)
82nd Ramapithicines (1st pick) – Radek Bonk (C, 70 pts)
84th Barbarians (1st pick) – Pavel Brendl (RW, 1 pt)
112nd Shadowmen (1st pick, from Barbarians) – Joe Thornton, FP, (RW, 68 pts)
130th Wolves (1st pick) – Brad Isbister (LW, 38 pts)
135th Severed Heads (1st pick, from Ramapithicines) – Ron Francis (C, 77 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Barbarians – John Leclair (LW, 51 pts) & Jason Allison (C, 74 pts)
Bladerunners – Temmu Selanne (RW, 54 pts) & Mats Sundin (C, 80 pts)
Dogs – Pavel Bure (RW, 69 pts) & Mario Lemieux (C, 31 pts)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW, 61 pts) & Marion Hossa (RW, 66 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 98 pts) & Chris Pronger (D, 47 pts)
Highlanders – Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 59 pts) & Alexi Yashin (C, 75 pts)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW, 44 pts) & Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 52 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Peter Forsberg (C, 0 pts) & Sergei Fedorov (C, 68 pts)
Ramapithicines – Keith Tkachuk (LW, 75 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 79 pts)
Severed Heads – Paul Kariya (LW, 57 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 79 pts)
Shadowmen – Joe Thornton (C, 68 pts) & Brian Leetch (D, 55 pts)
Wolves – Zigmund Pallfy (RW, 59 pts) & Eric Lindros (C, 73 pts)

As noted above, the Severed Heads had created a difficult situation for themselves. Two successive Predator Cup runs had all but devastated the franchise’s entry draft. While they had previously been able to rely on their Franchise Players to provide a boost to the team’s fortunes that pillar of strength for the defending champions was weakened by an average performance by Jaromir Jagr, 79pts, and a disappointing 57pts from Paul Kariya. The fall of the Severed Heads was steep and had; from first to worst. A second Herbivore Trophy for the Heads and the third time that the franchise had been worst in the league would lead some to question the franchise’s status in the pantheon of the FunHL. Two-time champion to be sure, but a franchise with a mixed legacy.

Headed in the opposite direction, one of the worst teams from the previous season, the eleventh-placed Knights Templar, would have a Cinderella season in 2001-02. The franchise equaled its best performance ever, third place, in the Predator Cup as well as making their first, and as yet only, appearance in the Challenge Cup playoffs ending the season also in third place. In the Challenge Cup semi-finals against the Bladerunners the Knights pulled out a gutsy win in a series that went the full three games. Their reward was a shot at the Challenge Cup where they faced the favoured Personal Vendetta in the final. The series was also pushed to the full three games and while the Personal Vendetta would end up winning their second Challenge Cup, the Knights Templar proved themselves to be a worth, and stubborn, opponent.

The Personal Vendetta had built a reputation as one of the best drafting teams in the FunHL, their run in 2001-02 demonstrated that they could trade with the same level of talent. The groundwork had already been laid the previous season as the Vendetta would enter the 2001-02 draft with additional picks in the first, second, third, fourth and fifth rounds. One area of concern was the fate of Vendetta franchise player Peter Forsberg who would ultimately not play during the season. He needed to be moved and eventually Nicklas Lidstrom was acquired for Forsberg’s rights. Lidstrom’s presence helped stabilize an already strong Vendetta blue line. However it was the trading of future Entry Draft picks which, yet again, fueled the championship run. Following the template laid out by previous champions, the Vendetta began to deal away their future with a speed that belied the cold calculation behind each move. In the end the Personal Vendetta would trade away their first eleven selections in the 2002-03 Entry Draft. Such a commitment translated into a 1000 plus points and the first Predator Cup victory. Coupled with their second Challenge Cup win GM Darrell Mann had good reason to celebrate.

Final Predator Cup Standings (2001-02):Personal Vendetta 1013.2
Bladerunners 948.8
Knights Templar 903.72
Highlanders 873.27
Edge 785.7
Shadowmen 780.61
Great Whites 779.27
Wolves 775.05
Dogs 767.78
Ramapithicines 752.94
Barbarians 745.53
Severed Heads 743.72

Season Thirteen (2002-03)

1st Pick Overall: Dogs -- Marcus Naslund (LW, 104 pts)
2003 Predator Cup Champion: The Ramapithicines, G.M. Corey Milne
2003 Challenge Cup Champion: The Dogs, G.M. Bill Donaldson
2003 Omnivore Plaque: The Bladerunners, G.M. Brian Wansleeben (+121.72 pts)
2003 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Barbarians, G.M. Mike Brekenridge

Enough! The cry had become deafening. The trading frenzy of Entry Draft picks had become so distorting to the pool that even the last few defenders of the existing system agreed that changes were needed. As picks for the 2002-03 season had already been exchanged, those trades would be honoured, but Entry Draft picks for the following season, along with Waiver Draft picks, could no longer be exchanged. A new system of free agents and restricted free agents would be incorporated instead.

Under the new rules, the first eight rounds of the Entry Draft would see the selection of free agents who would remain with a team, if not traded, for that season only. A team’s two Franchise Players would be selected in the 9th and 10th rounds of the Entry Draft unless they were being replaced in which case they would be replaced with the first and, if necessary, second round selections. Players selected in the 11th and subsequent rounds would be restricted free agents (RFAs) allowing teams to match bids for their services in the next year’s Entry Draft. Along with increasing the number of prospects per team to eight, the hope was that teams could retain more of a continuing identity year to year.

The thirteenth season’s first round went as follows:
1st Dogs – Marcus Naslund (C, 104 pts)
2nd Severed Heads – Todd Bertuzzi (RW, 97 pts)
3rd Dogs (from Bladerunners) – Jerome Iginla (RW, 67 pts)
4th Dogs (from Personal Vendetta) – Alexi Kovalev (RW, 77 pts)
5th Dogs (from Wolves) – Brendan Shanahan (LW, 68 pts)
6th Severed Heads (from Shadowmen) – Mike Modano (C, 85 pts)
7th Barbarians – Sergei Gonchar (D, 67 pts)
8th Ramapithicines – Sergei Samsonov (LW, 11 pts)
9th Dogs (from Great Whites) – Rob Blake (D, 45 pts)
10th Barbarians (from Edge) – Patrick Roy (G, 83 pts)
11th Ramapithicines (from Knights Templar) – Sergei Zubov (D, 55 pts)
12th Barbarians (from Highlanders) – Thereon Fleury (RW, 33 pts)
15th Bladerunners (1st pick, from Edge) – Bill Guerin (RW, 50 pts)
20th Wolves (1st pick) – Tony Amonte (RW, 51 pts)
21st Knights Templar (1st pick, from Personal Vendetta) – Alex Tanguay (LW, 67 pts)
22nd Highlanders (1st pick, from Bladerunners) – Roman Chechmanek (G, 93 pts)
27th Shadowmen (1st pick, from Bladerunners) – Simon Gagne (LW, 27 pts)
61st Edge (1st pick, from Highlanders) – Craig Conroy (C, 59 pts)
88th Great Whites (1st pick) – Martin Skoula (D, 25 pts)
98th Personal Vendetta (1st pick, from Severed Heads) – Sergei Fedorov (C, 83 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Barbarians – John Leclair (LW, 28 pts) & Jason Allison (C, 28 pts)
Bladerunners – Marion Hossa (RW, 80 pts) & Mats Sundin (C, 72 pts)
Dogs – Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 44 pts) & Mario Lemieux (C, 91 pts)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW, 57 pts) & Paul Kariya (LW, 81 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 108 pts) & Chris Pronger (D, 4 pts)
Highlanders – Joe Thornton (C, 101 pts) & Alexi Yashin (C, 65 pts)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW, 98 pts) & Brian Leetch (D, 30 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 62 pts) & Sergei Fedorov (C, 83 pts)
Ramapithicines – Keith Tkachuk (LW, 55 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 58 pts)
Severed Heads – Eric Lindros (C, 53 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 77 pts)
Shadowmen – Peter Forsberg (C, 106 pts) & Teemu Selanne (D, 64 pts)
Wolves – Zigmund Pallfy (RW, 85 pts) & Pavel Bure (RW, 30 pts)

The Personal Vendetta began their defense of the Predator Cup from deep within the pack. They had traded their first 11 draft picks away and the first selection they would be able to make was their own FP, Sergei Fedorov, taking him in the 9th round. All in all the season could have been far more difficult than it proved to be. While never threatening to actually repeat, the Vendetta’s sixth place finish was certainly respectable in light of some of the historical post-win let downs previous champions had endured.

One of the closest races in 2002-03 was the race to avoid the Herbivore. The Great Whites would take the fight down to the wire in one of the worst performances in Great Whites history but would still manage to maintain a 7 point lead over the eventual last-place finishers and Herbivore “winners”, the Barbarians. It was a fate made all the more disappointing as the Barbarians entered the season with such high hopes and three selections in the first round of the Entry Draft. The Barbarians’ second Herbivore, a dubious accomplishment shared with only the Severed Heads, actually fails to demonstrate the full extent of the Barbarians’ futility. The team’s best finish as the Barbarians, reached on two occasions, was only eleventh. The franchise also owns one other Herbivore title from its days as the Collective and had previously finished in last place as Danny Nasser’s “Nightmare”. The franchise, in all its incarnations, has only finished better than 11th on two occasions: 1996-97 as the Collective the team finished 5th and in 1998-99, again as the Collective, the team finished 8th. The Barbarians have some considerable history to overcome and their long-suffering fans can only hope that the transformation from perennial doormat to contender begins soon.

The Bladerunners would finish third in 2002-03, almost 90 points out of first, however the third place finish belies the monumental effort put forth to reach that level. The Bladerunners had fallen short of the Personal Vendetta the previous season but in their effort to reach the top they traded away many Entry Draft picks. Indeed going into the 2002-03 Entry Draft the Bladerunners had traded away all but three of their original picks. While they had managed to salvage some selections in the early rounds, for example two picks in the second round, they clearly entered the season at a distinct disadvantage. The prohibition on trading Entry Draft picks allowed for no quick solution to the problem but GM Brian Wansleeben rose to the challenge and improved his team from draft day some 120+ points on route to the franchise’s second Omnivore Award, a distinction shared by only the Shadowmen and the Wolves.

The battle for the Predator Cup would come down to two teams. The Dogs entered the season as the prohibitive favorite with 5 picks in first round of the Entry Draft. The Ramapithicines countered with two selections of their own in the first round but as one of those selections, left winger Sergei Samsonov faltered with an injury plagued 11 point season, the lead that the Ramapithicines ultimately amassed was a testament to the skill of their GM, Corey Milne. As the season began to wind down the Dogs had begun to make up ground by increasingly making use of plus-minus selections. One of the oldest rules in the FunHL, the plus-minus player was intended to reward defensive players in a manner reflective of their contribution to their teams by giving points at a rate of twice their plus-minus rating for the week. Typically, GMs would play one or two of their defenseman plus-minus if they were short of purely offensive contributors on defense but GM Donaldson had begun to push the envelope playing players regardless of their position or perceived defensive shortcomings. It was the only way to cut into the Ramapithicines lead, and it was beginning to work. The strategy was fraught with risk, but it was a risk the Dogs were prepared to take.

The Dogs had been a consistently strong team, as demonstrated by their first-place standing in the Challenge Cup regular season. So when the Dogs dispatched the Ramapithicines two games straight in the Challenge Cup semi-final, the win was made all the sweeter as the Predator Cup race was also tightening. The Dogs would win the Challenge Cup finals with a two game sweep of the Severed Heads, the first FunHL Award ever won by the Dogs. Could they close the gap enough to win the Predator Cup too? Entering the final week the decision was made to throw caution to the wind. GM Donaldson would play all his players plus-minus.

Truthfully there was nothing to lose by making the gamble. The Challenge Cup was secured and the only way the gap between them could realistically be made up would be to have the sort of monster week only a plus-minus gamble could produce, and maybe he could goad the Ramapithicines to gamble too and play many of his players plus-minus as well. What followed would become legend. As each day passed during the final week the Dogs continued to close the distance on the frontrunner. The insurmountable lead that the Ramapithicines had built up of 50 pts over the course of a season was at risk of being overcome in the final days of the season. In the end the gamble fell a mere 5 points short and while the Ramapithicines celebrated their second Predator Cup. However, it was the unbelievable effort by the Dogs that many would remember and become legend.

Final Predator Cup Standings (2002-03):
Ramapithicines 1021.46
Dogs 1016.44
Bladerunners 935.93
Severed Heads 929.01
Highlanders 845.64
Personal Vendetta 836.69
Knights Templar 802.88
Edge 788.76
Shadowmen 787.09
Wolves 765.33
Great Whites 729.40
Barbarians 722.68

Season Fourteen (2003-04)

1st Pick Overall: Personal Vendetta – Todd Bertuzzi (RW, 60 pts)
2004 Predator Cup Champion: The Personal Vendetta, G.M. Darrell Mann
2004 Challenge Cup Champion: The Personal Vendetta, G.M. Darrell Mann
2004 Omnivore Plaque: The Ramapithicines, G.M. Corey Milne (+133.25 pts)
2004 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): The Dogs, G.M. Bill Donaldson

The chaos was finally over. For the first time since the 1996 Entry Draft, every franchise would be selecting its own picks. It was a surreal change in how the Entry Draft had been conducted and it also affected how GMs felt about their franchises. If victory was going to be based on solid drafting and building a solid core then it was imperative to make sure that one started with a pair of Franchise Players that one had confidence in. Entering the 2003-04 Entry Draft, that was not the case for all GMs and no less than five FPs were replaced in the Draft – the most new FPs to enter the league since FPs were introduced in 1996.

The fourteenth season’s first round went as follows:

1st Personal Vendetta – Todd Bertuzzi (RW, 60 pts)
2nd Edge – Markus Naslund (LW, 84 pts)
3rd Barbarians – Ilya Kovalchuk, FP, (LW, 87 pts)
4th Ramapithicines – Sergei Gonchar (D, 58 pts)
5th Dogs – Sergei Samsonov, FP, (LW, 40 pts)
6th Severed Heads – Mike Modano (C, 44 pts)
7th Highlanders – Dominick Hasek (G, 18 pts)
8th Wolves -- Jerome Iginla, FP, (RW, 73 pts)
9th Great Whites – Pavel Demitra (C, 58 pts)
10th Knights Templar – Brendan Shanahan (LW, 53 pts)
11th Shadowmen – Ed Jovanovski, FP, (D, 23 pts)
12th Bladerunners – Glen Murray (RW, 60 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Barbarians – Ilya Kovalchuk (LW, 87 pts) & Mats Sundin (C, 75 pts)
Bladerunners – Marion Hossa (LW, 82 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 87 pts)
Dogs – Sergei Samsonov (LW, 40 pts) & Mario Lemieux (C, 9 pts)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW, 81 pts) & Paul Kariya (LW, 36 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 112 pts) & Chris Pronger (D, 54 pts)
Highlanders – Joe Thornton (C, 73 pts) & Temmu Selanne (RW, 32 pts)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW, 75 pts) & Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 16 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 38 pts) & Peter Forsberg (C, 55 pts)
Ramapithicines – Sergei Fedorov (C, 65 pts) & Alexi Yashin (C, 34 pts)
Severed Heads – Keith Tkachuk (LW, 71 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 74 pts)
Shadowmen – Ed Jovanovski (D, 23 pts) & Brendan Morrison (C, 60 pts)
Wolves – Zigmund Pallfy (RW, 41 pts) & Jerome Iginla (RW, 73 pts)

The defending Predator Cup champion Ramapithicines had the arduous task of repeating and it was not an easy task. While their win the previous season had not deprived them of Entry Draft picks, they were still at a bit of a disadvantage having traded other assets over the course of the previous season. Their familiar FP stalwarts, original FP Keith Tkachuk long-time Ramapithicine veteran Joe Sakic, had been traded during the run and their replacements, Sergei Fedorov and Alexi Yashin, had poor seasons. Even so, the Ramapithicines certainly went out to improve their team and while the effort would only secure an 8th place finish in the Predator Cup race the 133 point improvement was enough to win the franchise the Omnivore Award.

The most amazing story from the 2003-04 season was the phenomenal season of the Personal Vendetta. In a feat never before witnessed in the FunHL, the Personal Vendetta under the guidance of GM Darrell Mann went wire to wire. Not only did the Vendetta win the Predator Cup, they did it with virtually no additional effort. The team that Mann had drafted was essentially the same as the team that finished the season. The team did not improve, through trades, line-selections or prospect promotions over the course of the year – and it didn’t need to. To draft, from a cold start, a team that could best all comers, trades or no, was unprecedented – and more than a little frightening. From the first days of the FunHL the mantra was that you had to trade to win. The Personal Vendetta had exposed this to be a complete fabrication and other GMs were forced to take note. It was not that the Personal Vendetta were the best team every week, the weren’t and indeed they lost seven games in the Challenge Cup regular season, but they were always able to maintain their overall lead and, when the season got near the close, the team became unbeatable winning the semi-finals over the Highlanders in a two game sweep. In the Challenge Cup finals the Vendetta would face off against the Bladerunners. It was the first time that the top two teams in the Predator Cup race would meet in the finals of the Challenge Cup. In the end the Personal Vendetta were simply too much and went on to another two game sweep to win their third Challenge Cup title in six seasons. The Personal Vendetta’s season was, by all measures, phenomenal and the accomplishments would cement their status as one of the greatest FunHL franchises ever.

Final Predator Cup Standings (2003-04):
Personal Vendetta 917.09
Bladerunners 875.23
Highlanders 863.82
Severed Heads 834.87
Knights Templar 831.48
Shadowmen 801.83
Great Whites 801.21
Ramapithicines 785.20
Wolves 780.21
Edge 735.15
Barbarians 733.63
Dogs 646.44
Season Fifteen (2004-05)
1st Pick Overall: The Dogs – Alex Tanguay (LW, 0 pts)
2005 Predator Cup Champion: Not Awarded
2005 Challenge Cup Champion: Not Awarded
2005 Omnivore Plaque: Not Awarded
2005 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): Not Awarded

As the 2004-05 Entry Draft approached there were storm clouds gathering over the FunHL’s fifteenth season. The threat of a lockout of NHL players was a very real possibility and there was some suggestion that the Entry Draft ought to be postponed until the labour impasse was resolved. A review of the league’s Covenant and the experience of 1994-95 season, which had a shortened season of its own, made the decision to hold the Entry Draft an easy, albeit controversial one. While the Entry Draft would be held, many GMs felt that a labour disruption was inevitable and that the season might be lost or at the very least be severely truncated. Choosing to turn lemons into lemonade many GMs saw the pending impasse as an opportunity to do some significant housecleaning and continued with the Franchise Player turnover that had begun the previous season. This year there were Eight FPs who were replaced including some daring and controversial selections such as Dan Heatley by the Severed Heads, Roberto Luongo by the Shadowmen, Zdeno Chara by the Ramapithicines and Alexander Ovechkin by the Edge. As controversial as these selections may have been, the real question was – would any of it matter?

The fifteenth season’s first round went as follows:
1st Dogs – Alex Tanguay (RW, 0 pts)
2nd Shadowmen – Roberto Luongo, FP, (G, 0 pts)
3rd Highlanders – Vincent Lecavalier (C, 0 pts)
4th Knights Templar – Markus Naslund, FP, (LW, 0 pts)
5th Severed Heads – Dan Heatley, FP, (RW, 0 pts)
6th Bladerunners – Sergei Gonchar (D, 0 pts)
7th Personal Vendetta – Todd Bertuzzi (RW, 0 pts)
8th Edge -- Alexander Ovechkin, FP, (LW, 0 pts)
9th Ramapithicines – Zdeno Chara, FP, (D, 0 pts)
10th Barbarians – Daniel Alfredsson (RW, 0 pts)
11th Wolves – Martin St. Louis (RW, 0 pts)
12th Great Whites – Martin Havlat (RW, 0 pts)

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):
Barbarians – Ilya Kovalchuk (LW, 0 pts) & Keith Tkachuk (LW, 0 pts)
Bladerunners – Marion Hossa (LW, 0 pts) & Joe Sakic (C, 0 pts)
Dogs – Sergei Samsonov (LW, 0 pts) & Alex Tanguay (LW, 0 pts)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW, 0 pts) & Alexander Ovechkin (LW, 0 pts)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G, 0 pts) & Chris Pronger (D, 0 pts)
Highlanders – Joe Thornton (C, 0 pts) & Ed Jovanovski (D, 0 pts)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW, 0 pts) & Markus Naslund (LW, 0 pts)
Personal Vendetta – Nicklas Lidstrom (D, 0 pts) & Peter Forsberg (C, 0 pts)
Ramapithicines – Zedeno Chara (D, 0 pts) & Marty Turco (G, 0 pts)
Severed Heads – Dan Heatley (RW, 0 pts) & Jaromir Jagr (RW, 0 pts)
Shadowmen – Roberto Luongo (G, 0 pts) & Scott Niedermayer (D, 0 pts)
Wolves – Mats Sundin (C, 0 pts) & Jerome Iginla (RW, 0 pts)

In the end, no season would be played. There were glimpses of hope throughout the season, including one February night when media reports surfaced that a tentative deal had been struck but they turned out to be optimistic. The FunHL had decided to plan for the worst case scenario and preserve what they could. RFA rights would continue as if no Entry Draft had been held. Prospects would not “age” in terms of their four-year prospect cycle. It was an imperfect solution to a far from perfect situation. It was a black season for hockey and for the FunHL. No awards would be issued and in their stead a blank plate would remain for the season that was lost. One could only hope the wait would be rewarded in 2005-06.

Final Predator Cup Standings (2004-05):
Season Cancelled – Lock-Out

Season Sixteen (2004-05)

1st Pick Overall: The Dogs – Sergei Gonchar (D, 58 pts)
2006 Predator Cup Champion: Bladerunners
2006 Challenge Cup Champion: Bladerunners
2006 Omnivore Plaque: The Dogs
2006 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team): Knights Templar

After the seemingly endless depression of no hockey – a psychiatric termed “Acute Hockey Withdrawal” began to take hold of the 12 GMs…Some started following the Swiss or Swedish Elite Leagues with a little Russian SuperLeague to catch Ovechkin or Malkin Highlights, not to mention the rumours of the new rising star in the Q, “Sid the Kid”, a Highlander prospect. However, with the impasse gone, a new CBA and rule changes in the NHL, would be the harbinger for rule changes in season seventeen of the FUNHL. Texas Hold’Em Poker became the game to watch.
The question remained, was it going to be fun again? A resounding YES!

While the Bladerunners finally won the Challenge Cup they were much happier with their 2nd Predator Cup. The Standings (round to the next whole number) at season’s end were as follows:

Bladerunners 1082
Personal Vendetta 1072
Severed Heads 947
Great Whites 928
Wolves 926
Highlanders 918
Ramapithicines 905
The Dogs 899
Barbarians 891
Shadowmen 889
Edge 883
Knights Templar 881

One could argue the race at the top separating 1st from 2nd but 10 pts was exciting but the 7-way fight to avoid the Herbivore was compelling. The Shadow found themselves in last at WD2 and the Highlanders in 10th.The Edge were determined not to be stigmatized by another scurvy “Herby” nor were neither the Dogs nor the Barbarians and of course the Shadow quickly started micro-managing a solution.

However, no could anticipate the Knights drop from WD2 that precipitated the most dramatic fall in FUNHL history. Sitting in 3rd place overall, the team slipped into a downward spiral free-falling into dead-last in a matter of 6 short weeks. Thus proving the axiom that bottom could drop out on anyone at anytime! The tragedy of decapitation befell the Knights just as it did their true life last Grand Master, Jacques de Moley, in the 13th century -The Templar’s final leader until Mike Getta.

The 1st round selections were:

The Dogs – Sergei Gonchar
Great Whites – Mario Lemieux
Personal Vendetta – Daniel Alfredsson
Highlanders – Todd Bertuzzi
Bladerunners – Vincent Lecavalier
Ramapithicines - Zigmund Palffy
Severed Heads – Mark Recchi
Shadowmen – Brad Richards
Barbarians – Martin St. Louis
Rob Woods – Pavel Datsyuk
Edge – Sergei Zubov

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Barbarians – Ilya Kovalchuk (LW) & Keith Tkachuk (LW)
Bladerunners – Marion Hossa (LW) & Joe Sakic (C pts)
Dogs – Sergei Samsonov (LW) & Alex Tanguay (LW)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW) & Alexander Ovechkin (LW)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G) & Chris Pronger (D)
Highlanders – Joe Thornton (C) & Ed Jovanovski (D)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW) & Markus Naslund (LW)
Personal Vendetta – Nicklas Lidstrom (D) & Peter Forsberg (C)
Ramapithicines – Zdeno Chara (D) & Marty Turco (G)
Severed Heads – Dan Heatley (RW) & Jaromir Jagr (RW)
Shadowmen – Roberto Luongo (G) & Mats Sundin (C)
Wolves – Jerome Iginla (RW) & Scott Niedermayer (D)

Season Seventeen (2005-06)

1st Pick Overall: Severed Heads - Mikka Kipprasoff, G
2007 Predator Cup Champion:
2007 Challenge Cup Champion:
2007 Omnivore Plaque:
2007 Herbivore Trophy (Worst Team):

The season began a new with rule changes, prospect draft changes and goalie stats returning to 4.0-GAA X games (in minutes) played.

Sadly, we also saw the departure of two teams, both due to logistical problems. Both the Barbarians and the Dogs left the FUNHL and the search for two GMs as replacements became urgent to maintain the league equilibrium at 12. The first GM chosen took over the Barbarian franchise and transformed its team name to The Lost Boys, under the stewardship of Richard Birt. OTR he joked that the team was going to “wander back to civilization”. At the last moment, less than a week before the entry draft, the second GM was found and approved to replace the Dogs franchise. GM Chris Erickson renamed his team the Scourge and looked forward to the FUNHL challenge. Again, all were happy that the league was whole again.

The seventeenth season is becoming a fierce battle involving almost 8 teams for first. Historic! The FUNHL has also become electronic with its new BLOG at www.theFUNHL@blogspot.com

Team profiles, logos, punditry, unofficial stats, official links and commentary prevades this interactive e-resource.

The 1st round selections were:

Severed Heads – Mikka Kiprusoff, G
Knights Templar – Daniel Sedin, LW
Highlanders – Daniel Alfredsson, RW
Bladerunners – Simon Gagne, LW
Shadowmen – Brad Richards, C, FP
The Lost Boys – Sergei Gonchar, D
The Scourge - Pavel Datsyuk, C
Ramapithicines - Todd Bertuzzi, RW
Great Whites – Jonathon Cheechoo, RW
Edge – Oli Jokinen, C
Wolves – Henrik Zetterberg, LW
Personal Vendetta – Daniel Briere, C

Franchise Player Performances (with teams they started the season with):

Bladerunners – Marion Hossa (LW) & Roberto Luongo (G)
Edge – Patrick Elias (LW) & Alexander Ovechkin (LW)
Great Whites – Martin Brodeur (G) & Chris Pronger (D)
Highlanders – Joe Thornton (C) & Ed Jovanovski (D)
Knights Templar – Milan Hejduk (RW) & Markus Naslund (LW)
The Lost Boys – Ilya Kovalchuk (LW) & Joe Sakic (C)
Personal Vendetta – Nicklas Lidstrom (D) & Peter Forsberg (C)
Ramapithicines – Zdeno Chara (D) & Marty Turco (G)
The Scourge – Matt Sundin (C) & Alex Tanguay (LW)
Severed Heads – Dan Heatley (RW) & Jaromir Jagr (RW)
Shadowmen – Brad Richards © & Patrick Marleau ©
Wolves – Jerome Iginla (RW) & Scott Niedermayer (D)

We shall be watching…and happy 2007!

REV. Dec 30/06