The NHL's new and as yet unnamed expansion franchise made another key hockey operations hire Monday that might be a bit unpopular with hockey fans everywhere. That's not being negative, it just speaks to how important Tom Poraszka has become to hockey fans and media.
You may not know Poraszka's name, but if you're a hockey fan, you know his website. GeneralFanager.com came in to fill a major void left following CapGeek.com founder Matthew Wuest's death after a cancer battle. Providing accurate, speedy salary cap numbers for every player and team was an invaluable service for many hockey fans and pretty much everyone in the media.
However, following Monday's announcement that Poraszka had been hired by the Las Vegas franchise, it means General Fanager is no more. The site only has one live page currently. It is a goodbye message from Poraszka, who was running the site essentially as a labor of love.
Here's his message to the fans of the site:
It is with sadness that we close the doors to this incredibly fun passion project. We launched General Fanager in May of 2015. Along the way, we have come to serve and get to know an incredible base of users that we will greatly miss.
For anyone that ever helped with the site, from those that pitched in on busy days, to those that reported site errors, or helped track down details, or those that promoted our work, or just simply those that routinely typed generalfanager.com into their address bar: Thank you.
One of the recent additions to the site was an expansion draft tool, allowing users to run through the many, many possibilities of the upcoming expansion draft. It was incredibly useful and may be one of the primary reasons Las Vegas hired Poraszka.
With that in mind, this is an incredibly smart hire for general manager George McPhee's hockey operations department. While they must have access to the league's salary cap figures internally, having the guy who has made those numbers such a large part of his life could provide the team a level of insight that even the most senior officials may not possess. They also have someone with a proven expertise in building tools that will allow them to play with the numerous scenarios available to them ahead of the expansion draft.
According to the team, Poraszka's full-time job was in the digital marketing world. He took his technical skills from there and put them toward building a site with incredible functionality. It also put advanced salary cap analysis tools in the hands of anyone with internet access, which made it one of the most important sites for any hockey fan.
There are still salary cap sites out there, CapFriendly.com being the most prominent of those, however just as CapGeek continues to be missed even in the presence of new sites, General Fanager will leave a sizable void. Poraszka's tireless efforts in refining the site allowed it to come extraordinarily close to matching its most prominent predecessor.
In a salary cap league, knowing the salary information and the cap situations of each team is vital to understanding why certain decisions get made. Every single move has salary cap implications. However, the NHL continues to refuse to make its centralized salary cap data public. Several teams still won't even formally release the terms of the contracts they sign players to -- a practice that does an incredible disservice to their fans who won't get vital context to the deals their favorite team makes.
Over the last few years, it has become much more common for NHL teams to find talent for their hockey operations department from the internet. The founders of popular hockey analytics sites ExtraSkater.com and war-on-ice.com, among others, were hired away by NHL teams and their websites shuttered.
It's been a fascinating development in a league that has so often been slow to change. The people that have created these incredible resources and generously made them free to the public are deservedly having their work valued by NHL clubs. Many of them were doing their analysis as a side job or weren't getting paid at all.
As frustrating as it is for fans and media alike to lose these valuable resources, it's great for the individuals to have their generosity and expertise rewarded by landing dream jobs with NHL teams. Still Las Vegas' gain is our loss.