The triumph of a standard bearer: RIP Matthew Wuest

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:05 am by Thomas Drance

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Screencap courtesy CBS Sports

I’ve occasionally been asked if NHLNumbers.com plans to position itself as a “replacement” for capgeek.com. 

The short answer is admittedly yes, but the truer answer is that we can only aspire to improve our database and site design to the point where it is half as clean, accurate and thorough as what Capgeek founder Matthew Wuest built and meticulously maintained over the years at capgeek.com. 

The truer answer is that there’s no replacing capgeek.com. It was perfect, brilliant and dynamic. 

Much more importantly, there’s no replacing capgeek.com founder and sports journalist Matthew Wuest. Wuest died this week after a two-and-a-half year battle with colon cancer and his loss has been poignantly felt across the hockey world. Dignified, humble, hard working, revolutionary – Wuest was and is irreplaceable. 

I’ve always sort of thought that the primary role of a journalist in any field is to organize and prioritize occasionally complicated information so that it’s helpful and understandable for the reader or user. Hockey fans and hockey history will probably remember Capgeek.com as a perfect hockey salary resource. What Capgeek.com was, really, is the single most important work of hockey journalism we’ve seen in a generation. 

Wuest’s ‘latest contracts’ table broke news with regularity and Wuest worked hard to confirm salary details himself. 

When his site was going off of reported data – whether it was information about a limited no-trade clause, or a bonus structure – he cited the reporter and outlet directly. Credible, wholly independent and rigorous, Capgeek.com was ethically perfect or as MacLean’s columnist Colby Cosh put it back in January, “(Capgeek) had every moral strength a data website can have.”

It also had tools for days. From more populist tools – like the ability to create customized lineups and save them, or the buyout calculator (with the accompanying and always hilarious top-10 buyout searches list, which became something of a barometer for the NHL’s sillier seasons), to the indispensable ones like the qualifying offer calculator. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes going over the CBA trying to work out a player’s waiver exemption status for next season. Wuest had that information right on his site. 

Scrolling through the @Capgeek twitter timeline last night, I couldn’t help but be fondly amused at the process by which that waiver exemption data apparently came to be added to capgeek.com. I sort of think this episode illustrates Capgeek.com’s best responsive and innovative characteristics. 

On July 9 this past summer, Wuest sent out this tweet:

The volume of the response was intense. Click this link and scroll down, and the thread goes on forever. Of course Wuest was happy to oblige, spending hours sending out tweets like this one to every fan who asked:

One wonders if Wuest was overwhelmed by the level of interest in this seemingly esoteric contract detail because, lo and behold, two months later this showed up on his site:

Capgeek was ethically perfect, and Matthew Wuest’s professionalism, vision and integrity set a standard to which all sports journalists – and not just data resource sites – should aspire. 

We wish his family and friends solace in these trying times. If you’d like to honour Matthew’s life and accomplishments, his family has requested that you donate to coloncancercanada.ca

There is no replacing Capgeek.com, and there is no replacing a man of Matthew Wuest’s intelligence and dignity.