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Playing Moneyball In Toronto?

from Kavitha A. Davidson at Bloomberg View,

After missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons, the Toronto Maple Leafs think it's time for a different approach. And the success of the Oakland A's this season should give them hope.

The Leafs have fired assistant general managers Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle, replacing both with "boy wonder" Kyle Dubas. The 28-year-old stats guru -- dubbed the "Billy Beane of hockey," after the A's general manager -- is jumping to the big leagues after serving in the Ontario Hockey League. In just three seasons, Kubas turned around the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds from worst to first in the Western division, building a team around advanced statistics.

In addition to Beane, Kubas draws comparisons to Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein, who embodied the youth movement in baseball's front offices. 


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: kyle+dubas


DrD's avatar

Exactly how many championships have the A’s won since Beane has taken over that organization in ‘97? (or Epstein with The Cubs for that matter?). I can see a small market team becoming more competitive using advanced stats to scrape together a team full of “nobodys” when they can’t out-spend the big market competitors…but a big market team who can spend to the cap? Not sure what the attraction is here. Seems like The Leafs are just throwing crap at the wall hoping it will stick - as per usual.

Posted by DrD on 07/23/14 at 06:59 PM ET


how do you measure “chemistry” with your linemates? How do you measure “leadership” or “resiliency”? To make advanced stats actually work you actually need “advanced” stats - not weak proxies of indicators or measures that are not substantively meaningful like assuming all shots in the offensive zone are equal (Corsi anyone?), or that the fact that an individual players linemates and the opposition need to be accounted for, or the time in the period, the score, etc. Currently, there are very few individuals collecting this level of data and until they do, the likelihood that their analyses will produce anything beyond chance is very, very low.

Posted by scooter on 07/23/14 at 07:41 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

Well the whole premise is you use statistics/data as a supplementary piece to your intuition/experience/feelings. In business in general you grab as detailed information as possible about as much as possible to support your decision making. If you’re actually good at what you do, you won’t be affected by ‘too much data’ adversely colouring your decision.

Posted by BrendonTO on 07/23/14 at 09:01 PM ET

DrD's avatar

I get the premise, but The Leafs are adding a “supplementary data” expert before they get a decent GM. Seems like the cart is well ahead of the horse on this, but I guess I’d be more surprised if that ownership/management group actually did something right. I suppose time will tell, but the track record for “money ball” seems pretty mediocre to me.

Posted by DrD on 07/23/14 at 09:22 PM ET


I suppose time will tell, but the track record for “money ball” seems pretty mediocre to me.

The Red Sox won their first World Series in 80+ years building a team using advanced stats.

Just because the A’s haven’t won -at least partly because their are teams that can utilize advanced stats AND buy highly skilled played that the A’s can’t afford- doesn’t mean that advanced stats don’t work.

Advanced stats are a tool, just like having a home run hitter or a natural sniper.  If you can afford high end talent and have the ability to fill your team with role players who have good Corsi numbers, you stand a good chance to succeed.

And if you have some high end talent but a team full of players without good Corsi numbers, you end up with teams like the Leafs who flame out before the playoffs or the Avalanche, who end up being a relatively easy first round upset.

Posted by Garth on 07/23/14 at 11:38 PM ET

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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.

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