Will the Colorado Avalanche exceed expectations or sink to the bottom of the Western Conference? (Getty Images)
Hockey pools and fantasy league drafts are standard fare this time of year in this corner of the world. But there’s also a bit of inside wagering amongst the crew at The Hockey News for stakes such as ice cream cones, burritos and sometimes even steaks.
It typically starts when the editorial crew gather to debate our 30 team rankings in the annual Yearbook. Most of the time, the majority of us are in the same ballpark when it comes to a team’s projected finish. We all think Ottawa will struggle, some forecasting 13th place in the East, some 14th, others 15th.
We all think Washington is one of the elite teams, some to the point of a Stanley Cup championship in 2012, some as runner-up, others in the final four.
And there are always a few teams discussed that involve table pounding. These turn into wagers. Here are some I feel strongly enough to either push up or set back my early retirement date. Or at least satisfy my sweet tooth.
Managing editor Edward Fraser and myself couldn’t disagree more on the outlook of the Colorado Avalanche. He sees them as a playoff bubble team whereas I see them falling off the West Coast cliff to 15th place.
I predict Calgary picking up where it left off late last season and grabbing one of the bottom few playoff spots in the West. Fraser laughed mockingly at the Flames.
He offered me a low-stake bet the Avs would finish ahead of the Flames. I viewed that as such an easy win for me, I asked for higher stakes in exchange for 2-to-1 odds. If he wins, he gets double what I’d get, but I think it’s such an easy win on my side I wanted a larger principle.
We also have an ice cream cone bet who finishes higher in the East. I say New Jersey. Ed says Carolina. If Winnipeg finishes 14th or 15th in the East, Ed loses another bet.
Sadly, Ed’s protege, web editor Rory Boylen wanted to get involved. I feel badly making him open his skinny wallet, but he insisted. Here’s what we have going:
Poor Rory has to pay up if Winnipeg finishes in the bottom three in the East, if Colorado finishes in the bottom three in the West or if Calgary makes the playoffs. If Pittsburgh places first in the East (regular season), Boylen gets paid off. If Washington gets top spot, he gets schooled again.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.