In search of a playoff hockey system 

April, 13, 2010

I wrote a column last year about Sid Tannen, a New Yorker turned New Mexican who carried a passion for hockey and the Rangers with him to the great Southwest. Sid was an unabashed puckhead. When cable became popular in the 1980s and his house wasn't wired yet, Sid took his son to a local motel that was hooked up so they could watch NHL hockey. During his kids' spring breaks, Sid took the family driving around Canada to watch hockey games.

One of the only things Sid loved more than hockey was betting. His life's dream was to make it as a wise guy living in Vegas betting on the NHL. He almost got there, too, lining up a Sin City consulting gig late in life and spending a lot of his time in the sports books, trying to build his bankroll.

The beauty of Sid was how committed he was to perfecting a hockey betting system. When he made those trips with his family, he studied everything from how a puck caromed out of a corner to how quickly the ice melted. He took notes in a multicolored hieroglyphic that only he understood. He once tried explaining his system to a buddy, who just shook his head and said, "I don't get it." Back in New Mexico after a year in Vegas, Sid's system started to pay off. He was nailing it. He was never a big bettor, $50 or $100 a game, but he was making some dough.

Then one night he kissed his wife goodnight, went down to his favorite chair, turned on "SportsCenter" and died of a heart attack. His system died with him.