Over the last 15 years, there have been some monumental shifts in the way hockey is covered by the media and followed by fans. YouTube gave us unlimited video from around the world. Blogs changed the way the game was reported on and analyzed. Twitter became the go-to source for breaking news.
Matthew Wuest’s Cap Geek deserves its place among those redefining innovations; and that’s something that will be underscored now that it's gone.
Hockey’s preeminent site for player contract details, team salary cap figures, free-agent statuses and fact-checking trade scenarios went offline on Saturday night, with this message:
Effective immediately, Jan. 3, 2015, CapGeek.com has permanently ceased operations. This sudden decision is made with a heavy heart and is due to the personal health of CapGeek.com founder and director Matthew Wuest. While this decision may raise many questions, it is requested that you respect Matthew's privacy and wish for no media or purchase inquiries. Thank you for your co-operation and understanding at this difficult time.
Wuest founded the site in 2009, after compiling an NHL salary database and creating a “cap calculator” for RedWingsCentral.com. It was an instant hit, whether you were checking your team’s cap space for the trade deadline or figuring out what the buyout cost was for your least favorite player.
Where did the info come from? Wuest, who was a freelance hockey writer with gigs at Metro Halifax and The Hockey News, kept it tight to the vest, but told Puck Daddy in 2009 that they included media reports, confirmation through official channels and Wuest's own informants.
"The biggest thing is making sure you have good sources who can provide the most accurate data," Wuest said.
Over time, Cap Geek became the only site tracking salary info. NHLSCAP.com ceased operation and endorsed Wuest. NHL Numbers joined The Nation Network and became an analytics site.
It was also hugely influential – with salary information being share by mainstream writers, ferreted out by Wuest and collected in one massive site, NHL teams like the Carolina Hurricanes began reporting their own contract numbers.
I loved Cap Geek. Not just as a source of invaluable information, instantly creating an army of insiders every time a transaction was made – and, frustratingly, not always cited as the source of that information – but because it tore down the wall between fans and teams when it came to the salary cap.
And when you think how every single decision a team makes is tied to that cap, to have that information readily available from Cap Geek meant adding several levels of insight to every debate.
The salary cap helped kill the message board trade proposal; Cap Geek was the check-and-balance that buried it.
But for Wuest, Cap Geek existed to shed light on the real stars off the ice in his eyes: The owners and general managers who kept their house in order while thriving on the ice
"I think it's important for there to be a level playing field between the teams. I think that's where you really get to see who is a good general manager and who isn't," he said. "If there's some limit, you get some real gauge of who manages a team and who's just buying a team."
Our prayers go out to Matthew during whatever it is he’s going through. Many sites claim to be mandatory reading for hockey fans; his was perhaps the only one that could rightfully do so.
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