This week, Sean Tierney had the chance to catch up with Ian Logie, the man behind the new NHL salary cap and roster site, NHLArmchairGM.com. Logie answers questions about himself, the new site, and future additions to his sleek new site.
Sean Tierney: NHL Armchair GM has undergone rapid growth, going from a test site in June to a sleek, fully-functional site in late August. As a new entry into the field of cap and roster management sites, many people don’t know much about your team.
Can you speak a little about yourself and your own background with hockey?
Ian Logie: I was born and raised in Victoria, BC, on the west coast of Canada, so I’ve been a Canucks fan my whole life. Though 2 of my sisters were figure skaters, I wasn’t very good at skating, so I only played minor hockey for one season when I was 10 years old. However, I loved the game and became an avid fan and was a road hockey player all through my youth. Later, I even played road hockey in the Cayman Islands when I lived there for 2 years. We gathered a bunch of expat Canadians working on the island and had road hockey sticks, nets etc shipped in. The locals thought we were crazy, and the Caribbean doesn’t exactly provide for ideal road hockey weather, but we “sweated” it out, and had a lot of fun!
I actually met my wife in the Cayman Islands as well. She was Danish, and we eventually ended up moving to Denmark, which is where I currently live. I now speak fluent Danish and have 2 bilingual boys who I’m trying to get interested in hockey as well.
ST: Are your boys interested in the new roster site?
IL: My oldest son thinks my new hockey web site is pretty cool. He doesn’t really know who any of the players are yet, but he likes to put together teams based solely on whether their name sounds cool or not. He also likes to create new players with funny names like “I. Rule”, “U. Suck” and well, a few ruder ones that I probably should refrain from mentioning here.
ST: Do you have any partners working with you to develop the site?
IL: No other partners. I’ve actually done the entire website myself. It started out as a personal project just for my own amusement. I really missed CapGeek’s armchair GM tool, but I didn’t really believe at first that the site would be closed permanently. Just for fun, I decided to try and build my own simpler version while I waited. I started with just 1 team’s roster and non roster players. I really just wanted to be able to play with my own team’s line-up. That was in January.
ST: After a shout-out from the widely-respected War On Ice last week, your site’s followership on social media grew quickly and continues to expand. Why do you think your site is being so well received?
ID: Yeah, its been pretty amazing. I’ve never had a Twitter account before, and I did my 1st tweet a couple of mornings ago (European time) and then when @war_on_ice tweeted about it a few hours later, it just took off from there. I was away from my computer for about an hour and when I came back and checked my email there were over 350 emails in my inbox. My 1st thought was “Oh no, I’m getting SPAMMED by a bot!”. I was very relieved and surprised to find out they were actually Twitter follower notifications (x 350) – lol. I started following some hockey accounts and by the end of the day, my Twitter account had over 1,000 followers. So, a huge thanks to @war_on_ice for kicking that off!! I look forward to building a following and getting the word out about NHLarmchairGM.com. I just have to figure out how to actually be effective at using Twitter ( @NHLarmchairGM ).
Since CapGeek closed, a number of Salary Cap websites have popped up, and there are some really good ones. War-On-Ice.com, GeneralFanager.com, CapFriendly.com and HockeysCap.com are all great. They all offer salary and contract info, and varying sets of tools, and users all seem to have their own individual favorite site. HockeysCap.com has an armchair GM tool as well, so my site isn’t unique in that regard either.
ST: In what way does your site stand out from the others?
IL: I think maybe where my site stands out is in the design of the site. It was designed first and foremost as an Armchair GM website, and not as a cap or contract site. You still get almost all of the same info as the cap sites… but its just presented in a different way. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I’ve spent a lot of time getting the design and functionality of the site to work just the way I wanted. I’ve tried to make the site look clean, professional, and pleasing to look at, and I think its the clean design and the fact that its obviously an Armchair GM site that 1st catches people’s attention.
I tend to approach things differently than most people. As a user, I dislike always having to flip back and forth reloading page after page in order to get all the info I need. In designing NHLarmchairGM.com, I really tried to keep literally everything on one web page. You still have to flip between various blocks of info, but its done in a way that is very efficient and still allows you to view other pertinent information at the same time, by simply sliding some content in or out.
Though compact, the site has a lot of functionality, and some of it was designed to be quite flexible, instead of set in stone. The Cap Retention function can be used to adjust a team’s cap calculation for almost any situation where the user might want the cap calculation adjusted, whether its bonus overages, retained cap in a trade, a player buyout or whatever. In a trade, the cap retention amounts are not tied to a specific player or trade, so the amounts can be adjusted – for either side of a trade – at any time. This allows easy fine tuning of cap retained amounts, etc as the user tries different trade combinations. Its easy to trade players and draft picks and swap them back again if you didn’t like how the traded players fit in your team’s roster or cap calculation.
Likewise, adding or creating a new player is possible and has a number of possibilities that are not immediately obvious. You could for example, create player pieces for Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky or any other retired player. Recreate past Stanley Cup championship teams, or recreate your favorite team from anytime in the past. Or like my son, just create a team of new players with silly names
Though its probably the look of the site that initially attracts people, I hope it is the depth, flexibility and “fun” factor that will keep people coming back.
ST: The NHL Armchair GM fills the huge void left by CapGeek, offering fans full roster customization. Are there any additional features that you plan to add to the site in the near future?
ID: Yes, I’m always looking for ways to improve the site and I’m open to user suggestions, so if anyone has any great ideas, please feel free to contact me! One thing that I’d definitely like to increase on the site is the fun factor. I have a few ideas there, but I don’t want to reveal those just yet. A player buyout calculator is a feature that I’d like to add. Another is a better way of saving the users roster. Right now you can do a screenshot of your roster, or use the “save roster” function for emails or forum posts, but it would be much better to have a fully saveable roster with the trades, free agent signings etc all saved and re-loadable for future tinkering. The site currently works on all windows devices, but I still have to improve touch screen & Ipad compatibility, as there are some issues there. I’ll try and update some of that soon.
ST: From pre-set line combinations to a huge roster of prospects and draft picks and complete salary information, NHL Armchair GM rests on a huge base of data. Where have you turned to source all of the information for the site?
ID: It’s been a massive job getting all the data in place. I looked for a ready made database when I first started building the site, but couldn’t find one. Maybe I just didn’t really know where to look. I ended up starting with basic player data from Hockey-Reference.com. I used salary info from various sources, including NHLnumbers.com. I also used TSN, NBC, NHL.com, ESPN and individual team web sites to gather and/or verify a lot of the info.
I was almost ready to upload my test site in late May I think it was when I first noticed GeneralFanager and War-On-Ice. I talked with them a bit about sharing data in June, but really, by then it was too late to start all over again. My code was built around my database structure, so the code would have to be completely re-written if I ended up using another database structure. We may still do that at some point in the future, but for now, I’ll probably keep using my own database.
Now, I check both GeneralFanager.com and War-On-Ice.com to double check contract amounts that I’m in doubt about, and during free trade frenzy, it was primarily various TSN twitter accounts that I used for most of the signing details. So, all in all, there’s been a wide range of sources for all the data that I’ve had to manually add to the database. I really couldn’t have created the site without each of these other sites, so a huge thanks to all of them!
ST: The site is ad-free at the moment. Is that a priority for the site or are you open to the option of featuring site ads eventually?
ID: Advertising is a tricky subject. I would really prefer to maintain a clean and uncluttered website, but on the other hand, I have put so much time and effort into the site that getting some sort of financial compensation would certainly be welcome. I may end up looking for donations or perhaps crowd funding. I may also consider corporate sponsorship/advertising of some kind. I just don’t know where I’ll go with that or what options are realistic, but I’m open to all possibilities at this time, and will see how things go in the coming weeks.
ST: What’s the next step for the site? How do you plan to grow NHL Armchair GM over the course of the upcoming hockey season?
ID: Well, I’ve only been on Twitter and Facebook for a couple of days, and the finished website has only been up for a few days as well, so it’s early days yet. Twitter has already gone way better than I expected, but I’m really a Twitter rookie and will have to learn more about how to utilize it effectively . My site’s Facebook page could use some likes so I’ll try to do a bit of promo work there as well. I thinking of making some video tutorials – highlighting the Armchair GM tools and features – and maybe posting those online.I’ve fantasized about partnering with the NHL itself – an official NHL Fan Armchair GM site would be HUGE – or perhaps partnering with another large hockey entity such as TSN. I’ve also thought of working separately with individual hockey teams and customizing the functionality to suit their particular GM needs. I can imagine Canucks GM Jim Benning actually benefiting from using a (modified?) version of my site instead of relying on all the team roster charts that he has plastered all over his office wall. That may be a bit optimistic on my part, but I believe you have to dream big in order to make any web site a success! I’ll see how things play out, but for now, I’m just excited about the future and look forward to the start of the new NHL season, and to many hours of tinkering with my NHL team rosters.
For more information on NHL Armchair GM, visit: NHLArmchairGM.com – give your own roster a try and be sure to follow on Twitter and Facebook as this new site grows.