Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail,
Hockey season kicks off Wednesday, and we’ll spend most of the next eight months arguing about math. Welcome to the mainstreaming of the Analytics War.
The (very reductive) analytics explainer: If you see more of the puck, and more of the offensive zone, you will, in all likelihood, win.
This sounds pretty sensible, which may be why it upsets people so much. When it comes to the canons of the country’s best-attended church, we aren’t prepared for quiet revolutions.
This will be positioned as a fight about the future of the game. Which it isn’t.
What it is is an attempt to make hockey make sense. Which it doesn’t.
At its best, the NHL is about the physical mystique of a few men doing things the rest of us can’t. Once you begin to pick apart that process, you’re no longer a fan. You’re a foot soldier in the ice Crusades.
The Guardian takes us down memory lane with some great pictures. A must see if a fan of old-time hockey.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In the NHL’s age of parity, when the salary cap was supposed to guarantee that teams at the top couldn’t stay at the top, the Kings and Blackhawks are defying expectations. They’ve won two championships apiece over the past five seasons, and they go into 2014-15 as the favourites to win again. The oddsmakers have Chicago opening as a 6-1 pick, L.A. is next at 15-2 and the third-ranked team is the only other one to win a recent championship – the Boston Bruins.
“It’s a tough time to win multiple championships in a row, but I still think it’s possible,” Blackhawks’ winger Patrick Kane said. “I still [think] there are teams out there that can do it, including us. We feel we were close to winning last year, and that would have been a couple in a row, three in five years. So yes, I think it can happen.”
Kane’s Blackhawks were juggling salary-cap questions right up until the moment training camps ended in order to get under the $69-million (U.S.) ceiling for the 2014-15 season. The Blackhawks made little noise this past summer other than signing Kane and captain Jonathan Toews to monster contract extensions that will kick in at the start of next season. Beyond adding Brad Richards as a modestly priced free agent to play on a line with Kane and Brandon Saad and trading away Leddy, the Blackhawks returned essentially the same team.
So, for that matter, did Los Angeles. The Kings signed last year’s key trade-deadline acquisition, Marian Gaborik, to a seven-year contract extension, but they look as if they will go into the new season with no new faces in the lineup.
Finally, our game is back!
Below, a KK tradition continues for the 9th consecutive year.
The Associated Press asked Gary Bettman about the topic that won't go away--NHL expansion--and Bettman revealed a little more than he usually does about what the league isn't doing:
"If we go through a formal expansion process, then we will have to evaluate that very question," Bettman said Tuesday during an interview with The Associated Press inside his Manhattan office. "What we are doing is continuing to listen to expressions of interest, and we're pleased that there are lots of expressions of interest, but we haven't and are not ready to deal with them in a very structured, formal way and make that decision."
Before any expansion discussions can be held, the NHL will have to decide how many teams is enough, and if adding others will water down the product.
"That would require us to do an analysis we haven't done," Bettman said. "If you look around, there is no list on the wall ranking cities where we're not. We're listening. There is apparently a lot to listen to, but at this point that's all we're doing."
And now that the Coyotes are again firmly entrenched in Arizona, there is no immediate risk of any team moving, either.
"There is no reason to relocate," Bettman said. "The 30 franchises have never been healthier, never been better owned, never been more stable."
The interview continues, and Bettman also appeared on Sportsnet's HockeyCentral At Noon prograram to talk about Sportsnet's new TV deal, the opening of the 2014-1 season, fighting, and yes, troubled franchises:
From TSN's James Duthie...
Darryl Sutter won't stop talking.
This isn't an oxymoron. Or a dream sequence in another TSN Films skit.
This is truth.
On a sunny evening on the boardwalk of Manhattan Beach, California, the coach of two of the last three Stanley Cup champions is sharing his views on, in no particular order:
- Brothers ("I've played on a team my whole life, not from making a team...I was born into a team.")
- Criminal Minds ("I love that show. We've gotten to meet some of the actors and actresses. It's pretty cool.")
- Eliminating the penalty box ("Why not have them sit on the bench and sell the best six seats in the house?")
- Yoga ("I put it in our training twice this year...so that's a big move right there. But no, I'm not doing it.")
And Duthie continues, with Sutter explaining:
That guy you see on TV? The one with the semi-permanent scowl who can do an entire post game new conference in 25 words or less? This is not that guy.
"I've always enjoyed talking one-on-one with people," Sutter says. "I just don't like talking after games. We all saw what happened on the ice. I don't have much to add. Most questions you can answer with 'yes, no...maybe.' So I don't want to go much beyond that."
via the Denver Post,
Adrian Dater, the Denver Post beat writer for the Colorado Avalanche, has been suspended for two weeks without pay for inappropriate language used on Twitter.
The suspension, effective immediately, followed a number of exchanges with users on Oct. 4 and 5.
“Journalists need to recognize that they need to be professional on all platforms. Social media is no different,” Post Editor Gregory L. Moore said. “The language Adrian used is unacceptable, and he knows it.”
The team will carry 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders into thir tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden. First line center David Krejci has been placed on injured reserve while fellow center Gregory Campbell and left wing prospect Anthony Camara will begin the season on non-roster injured reserve. Marc Savard, still under team control, was placed on long term IR.
Krejci will miss a minimum of seven days as of Tuesday per the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. The Bruins have four games scheduled during that stretch.
more on the Boston's roster...
from Dave Naylor of TSN,
It's now a question of whether teams can afford to carry players who have limited ability to possess the puck, can't keep up with the game and have no offensive or defensive upside that would give them any sort of advantage. In other words, do whatever benefits exist from having fighters on the roster overcome the liability of dressing players who would not be playing in the NHL if they couldn't fight?
And here's where the analytics side of the game makes things interesting. Advocates of the role of fighting in hockey have always relied on an argument built on strategic intangibles, the notion that skilled players feel protected when enforcers are in the lineup, that somehow everyone plays an inch taller just knowing that kind of guy is sitting on the end of the bench, even if he only plays a few minutes a night.
Whether or not any of that was actually true became a matter of hockey ideology, depending on which camp you fell into. But there was no reliable way to actually measure or test that theory.
Presumably, through the introduction of analytics into the game, now there is.
And the fact that teams such as the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers (huh?) will be begin the season without enforcers, suggests that what teams are learning is that enforcers don't help teams win games and are in fact liabilities.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org