Logan Couture

Why Couture once kicked Burns out of Sharks' fantasy football league

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Editor's Note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California’s Sharks coverage. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.

It was a good year for the Sharks’ fantasy football league … but not for commissioner Logan Couture.

He might be looking to make a change in his two-win squad’s room, beginning with his team name, "Bills Mafia."

“I may have to change [that]. I missed the playoffs, consecutive years here. Three in a row, maybe. I gotta take a look in the mirror here pretty soon,” the Buffalo Bills super fan told San Jose Hockey Now on Friday. “It's embarrassing. Or [should I] just stop being commissioner of the league? It doesn't look good.”

If Couture steps down as commissioner, he leaves the locker room league in a good place, a long way away from the year that Brent Burns almost destroyed the league from the inside.

But we’ll get to that story – which left me in tears – in a second. First, what led Couture to start the 2023 fantasy football campaign 0-7?

Couture says selecting Nick Chubb (season-ending injury in Week 2) and Garrett Wilson (season-ending injury to his quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 1) sunk him.

Instead, Couture will be watching the league’s championship this weekend, between Joel Ward (“Hot Boys”) and old friend Giuseppe Bruno, from the sidelines.

“Joel Ward's got the best team. He's got [Christian] McCaffrey on it. He should win. He won the regular season,” Couture predicted.

Tomas Hertl (“Minions 48”) also missed the playoffs.

Patrick Mahomes and Austin Ekeler were in large part responsible for his downfall.

“I got Dak Prescott on the bench, but it’s tough to bench Mahomes,” Hertl lamented.

Adin Hill (“The Bears”) doesn’t blame himself for missing the postseason.

“I had to auto-draft,” he revealed in October, of his Joe Burrow and Josh Jacobs-led squad. “I was building a house back home. All the interior design stuff, that was that day that we had to draft.”

Regardless, it was a good year for the league.

For one, turnover was low. Besides Couture, Hertl, Hill, Ward, and Giuseppe, Joe Thornton (“Jumbotrons”), Brenden Dillon, Chris Tierney, Barclay Goodrow, Aaron Dell and the Luke Kunin-Matt Benning duo (“Scoops”) returned to the 12-team league.

The only departure? Erik Karlsson didn’t just leave San Jose on the ice. 

Commissioner Couture was on the ball when the Sharks sent Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins in August: “I texted Erik right when he got traded and asked if he wanted to be in.”

“Erik said he’s playing in another [league],” Hertl said.

So in the reigning Norris Trophy winner’s place?

“Our real estate agent Mark, he’s good friends with everybody,” Couture said, before smiling. “He has a good [team] name, but it's X-rated, so I can't say.” 

Another reason why it was a good year for the league?

Nobody was fined in the $900 buy-in league, where there's a $100 fine for playing an inactive player or having an empty line-up spot.

“Guys were good. Adin Hill was out of it early too, he was like 0-6 [to start],” Couture said of his fellow cellar-dweller. “And he filled it out.”

This leads to the No. 1 reason why it was a good year for the Sharks’ fantasy football league: Brent Burns isn’t part of it anymore.

It was 2015, the first year of the league, founded by Couture, then 26. 

Take it away, captain…

“He showed up at the draft, we had it at I think Raffi Torres’s house or Joe Thornton's house. And he showed up with a fantasy football magazine from like 2011 – and it was 2015. So he was [four] years behind,” Couture said, laughing about it now.

“He drafted four quarterbacks with his first four picks. He just took like [Tom] Brady, Peyton Manning, [Aaron] Rodgers, all the quarterbacks.

“And then, [he] tried to sell them to make his money back from the entry fee. So he would break even no matter what.”

That wasn’t the end of Burns’ shenanigans!

“He was trying to make the most outrageous trades. I'd tell him, ‘Burnzie, that's f--ked up. You're ruining the league,’ ” Couture recounted. “It was all under-the-table money. He was trying to make side money off the league. I had to kick him out after one year.” 

So did Burns, a season away from signing an eight-year, $64 million contract extension, profit from the locker room league?

“I don't know. He wouldn't say. But I think he probably made money,” Couture said, before admitting, “He was smart.”

They’re just good memories now, of colorful Sharks squads long past.

“At the time, I was really pissed off about it because I wanted it to be like a credible league, and that was the first year,” Couture smiled wistfully. “I wanted guys to take it seriously and Burnzie just thought it was the biggest joke.”

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