Nineteen seasons, fifteen banners. Really, that’s all that needs to be said about George Jenkins (better known as Salros). Since he entered the league in 2010, George has single-handedly set the standard for just how good a GM can be in the CHA. In nineteen total seasons of play (8 in the ECFL, 7 in the HUEL, 3 in the IFHL, and 1 GNFL season), George has weighed down his forum signature like no one else, stockpiling 7 regular season championship banners, 4 playoff championship banners, and 4 CHA/HUFA championship banners. A remarkable feat, to be sure – made all the more remarkable by how he did it. George didn’t take over any loaded teams – every single Salros-owned team has been his from the get-go. He didn’t bail on his weaker teams to focus on better ones – in fact, Salros has never quit a team. He didn’t put himself into leagues with weaker competition – he battled head-on with PCFL veterans when the ECFL was formed; took on some of the Association’s finest GMs in the HUEL; and took up the challenge of the CHA’s most expensive league with the GNFL. Time and again, George has stared down the best opponents out there, and come out on top.
So who the hell is he? Is it Dale Tallon in disguise? Jim Rutherford, is that you? (George did live in the Carolinas when he joined the league… although he has since relocated to the Laurentiens of Quebec). In fact, you’ll probably be stunned to know just how little fantasy hockey experience the sixty-year old Jenkins had before joining the ECFL on that fateful day in August 2010. “If Utopia had not been in the Association’s name, I probably wouldn’t be a member of the CHA,” George said recently when asked how his membership came to be. “For an unknown reason, it is one of my favourite English words. When I decided to become a full-time Fantasy Hockey participant in the summer of 2010, the number of leagues looking for people to join was overwhelming. After looking into a few leagues, I came across the Hockey Utopia Fantasy Association and of course James.” Yes, you’re reading that right – George first started playing fantasy hockey in 2010, and won the HUFA Championship by 2012. “My first 2 Inaugural drafts were disasters. It took me 7 years to learn how to draft,” George said. But he quickly found it’s not all about the draft. “I learned from the more experienced GMs how to play in a Dynasty Fantasy Hockey league… the best advice I’ve ever received since I began playing: build your team with a foundation of elite stars you’d be willing to stick with. When you fill a position with an elite player and lock it down, it makes other decisions about your roster easier.”
And that’s exactly what he did. The three-time CHA Champion Blue Ice Warriors, by far the most dominant franchise in Association history, acquired Braden Holtby, Ryan Getzlaf, and Brent Burns in successive years from 2012-2014. Investing in, and sticking with those players (along with inaugural draft picks like Jeff Carter and Nicklas Backstrom) was the magic formula, leading to absolute domination from 2015-2017. “Of course, as with all choices, you need some luck for them to be successful,” said Jenkins, modestly.
But success comes at a cost. There is little room for doubt that Salros’s impressive banner collection puts a target on his back in every league. “It was tougher finding partners that would make reasonable trades with me. I remember I tried to post less so my signature wasn’t seen all the time,” he said. And yet somehow, the dominance continued. In his 19 total seasons, George has only finished worse than 7th in the regular season or playoffs once, in the HUEL’s inaugural season. In fact, he’s finished in the regular season top 3 an incredible 14 times in 19 tries. When asked about this success, George explained, “All along, my competitive spirit and desire to be a winner have motivated me to be a diligent and dedicated participant. I’m always looking for an edge in every match. As a result, I believe I’ve inspired a few rule changes.” True enough, indeed, but it’s this dedication that has made George such an incredibly valuable member of the Association.
Like many of our most veteran, and most successful GMs, Salros has had a long-lasting influence on the rulebook. Constantly looking for ways to maximize player starts, he’s uncovered a series of loopholes in the rulebook, first using them to his advantage, and then gamely agreeing when it came time to close them. As a member of the executive committee, George’s perspective has been invaluable. “I’m a numbers guy. I love playing with stats,” he said. This viewpoint has served us well in the creation of many rules. Truly, his contributions off the ice have been nearly comparable to the precedents he’s set on it, blurring the lines between “player” and “builder”, and greatly benefiting us all.
So what’s ahead for this goliath GM? With an eye to the future, Salros took stock of his four mighty franchises: “In the HUEL, the Blue Ice Warriors are paying the price of sticking with a group of elite players who are aging and trading away a lot of future draft picks. I have no idea what the Warriors will look like by the beginning of the new NHL season. In the ECFL, the Flying Canucks are still re-building. In the IFHL, the Justin’s Ice Dragons are facing a common problem many GMs are dealing with since McDavid’s contract raised the bar… If the Dragons lose [John] Tavares, it may be a hole that cannot be filled and throw this team into an unfortunate re-build. My favourite team and the team with the brightest future is the 21 Dancing Bears of the GNFL. Of all the teams I GM, this team was the toughest to manage. While being the 74th best team in the CHA, the Dragons were the 2nd best regular season team in the league.”
One thing is for sure: Salros’s work here isn’t done. With many banners left toacquire and rulebook loopholes yet to exploit, George seems excited for the future. “It took returning to Canada for me to realize how big a fan of the NHL I was. Being a hockey fan when I lived in Hilton Head, SC, only made me seem more strange to my local friends. Balls made sense to them, pucks and stones never did. In the Modern Age of Digital Fantasy Gaming, the Capwise Hockey Association is how I dreamt it would be playing a fantasy team sport in the Computer Era.” In Jenkins’ undiminished enthusiasm, in spite of so many years of dominance, is a lesson for us all: “Eventually I learned that the CHA was a community of hockey enthusiasts that was growing. I learned I could be part of something special in the world of Fantasy Hockey. By 2012, I no longer played to only win but to be a good competing member of the Association who tries to be the best GM I can be.” It is, after all, just a game.