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The Analytical Game

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,

A few years ago, I was talking to a young player who was really excited after a meeting with his coach. He'd been told he'd scored high on a stat the team kept: how often they retained possession whenever he was responsible for dumping in and chasing the puck.

So, I asked the coach about it. He paused, then smiled and said, "I have no idea what you're talking about." He just didn't want to say anything about this "private" statistic. The next day, the player said, "Please don't report that... I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to say anything."

So it was a secret -- until now.

I've always believed NHL teams keep much more detailed player evaluation tools than they let on. Last weekend, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosted its seventh annual Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. Nicknamed "Dorkapalooza" by ESPN's Bill Simmons, it has evolved into one the most important non-game events on the sporting calendar.


Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Zqto's avatar

I wonder if Babs and Kenny are the type of people that would embrace this

The Bourke part of the article is fun, you can almost see it happening, if you think about it

Posted by Zqto on 03/07/13 at 09:37 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Every NHL team, executive, and coach—even Brian Burke—should be embracing this. Burke can make jokes, but he should look to baseball specifically, but also where basketball and football are now.

The teams that embraced these analytics made the greatest strides, and the ones that didn’t fell the most, or at best, cost themselves a lot of money as a result.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 03/07/13 at 11:25 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

The teams that embraced these analytics made the greatest strides

I agree with 99% of what you post, buuuut… Baseball embraced analytics far more than football has, so.  Um.

I do think there is a definite place for analytics in hockey but the tracking is the key.  Basketball teams have started using a camera system that tracks where a player is on the floor and helps complile data about tendencies and accuracy of shooting/passing from particular points.  Information like that, five-man unit data, and such could be very, very useful from a hockey perspective.  The key isn’t really to utilize analytics, right now, it’s to dream up the appropriate ways to measure analytics.  You can look at a stat like Corsi and TPSH’s posts (He really does understand it well) to see flaws in current analytics.  The way it works in basketball is often that you see something happening and the statistics either back it up or debunk it (Ie, Kobe’s a good closer?  Not so much, it turns out.). 

I think something that would be very beneficial would be to hire someone to look at the last fifteen years worth of Nick Lidstrom footage.  So much of what makes a player great is their unique gifts.  Lidstrom had those, but he also had a lot of discipline/smarts that could be mined and distilled into some pretty interesting things.  You probably can’t coach a guy to make the right decision every single time, any more than you can coach a guy to have Chara’s size, but with better information you can probably help explain why something is a right decision to some of these boneheads (hey Quincey).

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 03/07/13 at 03:41 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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