The information about all 30 NHL teams is current and concise. The user interface is easy, the colors are vibrant, the look of it is playful. The entire site sends you down a rabbit hole of seemingly endless data about the salary cap, team payrolls and other NHL financial data.
If this sounds like Cap Geek, the much-missed salary cap site founded by the late Matthew Wuest, that’s the point. General Fanager, which recently launched, was inspired by that game-changing NHL salary site, which ceased operation as Wuest battled cancer. He passed away on March 19.
“That's really how it started. Like many in the community, I've missed CapGeek incredibly. It was an incredible resource and it's difficult to imagine anything will match it,” said Tomasz Poraszka, founder of General Fanager.
Of the sites we’ve seen that seek to fill that void, his one comes closest to capturing the user experience that endeared Cap Geek to so many.
We reached out to Poraszka recently about General Fanager to get a better sense of what it is and where it’s going.
Q. This seems like a direct response to the void left by Cap Geek. Was that the inspiration for the site, or was it something along with that?
PORASZKA: I grew impatient not having easy access to the information and decided to do something about it. Like we say on our About page, I think CapGeek will always be remembered as the leader in this, but our hope is to give easy and timely access to the same information in the best way that we can.
Q. Mathew Wuest was a former journalist turned numbers cruncher. What's your background? What got you into hockey? Are they others that contribute to the site or, like Cap Geek, is it a one-person show?
PORASZKA: To this point it has been primarily just me, but with the sudden interest, I've had several people helping with QA and data collection. My background is in engineering and project management. I'm a lifelong hockey fan and have always spent more time on it than I should. This seemed like a great project to use all that time spent on something that would be useful to others as well.
Q. One of the things that separated Cap Geek was its ability to get numbers that weren't readily available through the media (and other contract info). Is that something you'll offer too, or is Fanager more reliant on media reports and team releases?
PORASZKA: Some of the members helping out do have ties to the industry and as a result of these ties, and our early success, we have some very promising leads and have been actively working with them. Note that for the most part, the team (including myself) at this point is trying to stay relatively anonymous so that our focus can remain squarely on the site, the data and feature enhancement.
Q. What were the essential features you wanted on the site, now and in the future?
PORASZKA: For launch, I considered player contract information and consolidated team pages as the essentials. This is the information that most fans use most of the time, and without CapGeek, it was very much missed. We feel there are a number of additional tools (calculators, a team manager that allows you to update a team and see the effects on the cap, etc) are all essential to us as well. We feel the product won't be complete without these features, but wanted to get the site out there as we knew there was an appetite for what we already had completed.
Q. Can you elaborate on this one: "The ability to customize rosters to determine their cap compliance."
PORASZKA: We're working on a tool that will allow you to edit or create your own roster and provide a summary of cap information for that custom roster. This will be similar to the Armchair GM tool that CapGeek had.
Q. Are there going to be full search capabilities, like using the leaders tab to search by position for example?
PORASZKA: Yes, the leaders page will be built out to be much more versatile and allow users to do much more analysis.
Q. What are your thoughts on the salary cap with regard to fandom? Does knowing the numbers make all the trade speculation, etc. more fun, or what it more fun before we had cap restrictions on trades?
PORASZKA: What the salary cap does is it makes trades more difficult, which can mean it becomes less fun. But it's real, and as a numbers guy and avid fan of the game, understanding a team's salary situation has become essential to closely following the sport. Not knowing the numbers makes it impossible to understand what a team can and cannot do.
The reality is that the cap is a factor in almost every NHL transaction, and understanding the CBA, the cap and team's situations empowers a fan to understand why their team is doing something and what their options are.
Personally, I find that the salary cap has made things more fun, there are more factors in play and it adds a challenge to the real General Managers, and the General Fanagers.
Q. Finally, what's your reaction when you hear Gary Bettman say that fans don't care about an NHL-run Cap Geek site because they don't care about salary info?
PORASZKA: We can only speak for ourselves. We're fans first, and we certainly care about salary information. The initial appetite for our site suggests we're not the only ones.
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