By Sunil Agnihotri
CapGeek has announced that it would be ceasing operations as its founder and director, Matthew Wuest attends to some personal matters. CapGeek was the definitive source for NHL salary information used by fans, NHL teams and media outlets. It also provided interactive tools to determine if teams could take on player salaries, a cap calculator for armchair GM’s and what future rosters could potentially look like. It really improved the public’s understanding of the salary cap model and the numerous financial intricacies involved in building NHL rosters.
The website filled a need after the NHL implemented the salary cap in 2005. Team’s were no longer able to outspend one another and had to find a way to put together a roster with financial constraints. Team were on more of a level playing field, forcing fans to learn more about the cap and what implications it can have on their club.
CapGeek provided a service that really should’ve been provided by the NHL. The league had the resources and time to build a website and share information that fans demanded, but instead allowed a third party to be the source of information. By leveraging various sources and contacts within the NHL, CapGeek forced the information into the public realm. It’s a fantastic example of how individuals can collect and distribute information outside of traditional means using communication technology and strengthen the overall discourse. Not only did CapGeek publish the information, but they also gave their site visitors the ability to create new ideas and knowledge using the content and interactive tools on their website. This was a critical success factor for the website as it further pushed discussion pertaining to trade speculation, roster development and cap implications. It was a fantastic method to cut through the many misleading narratives that fans are inundated with and forced a higher level of critical thinking when discussing the game.
The hockey analytics field has flourished within a similar environment as CapGeek. Both have been sources of information and have played a key role in the fan’s overall knowledge and understanding of the game. Both have relied on fan participation and social networking to grow and reach a level of importance recognized by the hockey world. And, most importantly, both have been very successful outside of the NHL’s jurisdiction.
The NHL could have a significant role to play when it comes to collecting and distributing the data and information that fans are demanding. There are signs that the league will soon collect detailed data about the game, but it’s been remarkable that this hasn’t been done sooner. Making the data available publically available with easy to use interactive tools would be a great way to increase fan engagement. It will be critical for the NHL to work with fans to find out what data they want and ensure that the data is timely and accurate. There will be resistant from teams, coaches, players and player agents. The league, however, needs to meet the needs of the fan community who have taken a significant role in the knowledge and information that surrounds the game.