A lot has been written this summer about the bankruptcy of the Phoenix Coyotes and its aftermath. Phoenix is not the only team with financial difficulties. It is a very reasonable expectation that the Tampa Bay Lightning could follow them down that path in the near future. As we have learned from the Phoenix bankruptcy, the NHL will attempt to hide and deny problems for as long as possible (they are probably doing so already).
Here is the case that something is amiss in Tampa Bay. The OK Hockey Group (Oren Koules, Len Barrie and some other minor investors) bought the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008. They could not afford to buy the team through normal means and required former owner Bill Davidson to extend financing for the purchase. Davidson has died since the purchase, but his heirs remain major creditors to the Lightning and could use their leverage to attempt to take control of the team, if they decided that was in their best interests.
This summer, in a series of sabermetrics and hockey posts, I have began to look at the Fenwick Number as an alternative to +/- ratings. It is an attempt to capture puck possession numbers by counting shots on goal and missed shots while a player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations. It will count more events than +/- and will thus have a better signal to noise (the question is whether the events it counts are as meaningful). I have listed the top 20 and worst 20 player Fenwick Numbers. Much like Corsi Numbers (which include blocked shots), these results have a strong team bias. The top 20 list has players on good teams and the bottom 20 list has players on weak teams. In an effort to see team effects, the total Fenwick Number for each team is listed here and compared to the team Corsi Numbers.
Here are the team Fenwick Numbers for 2008/09:
The history of the NHLPA just took another odd turn. Paul Kelly, the NHLPA head has been fired. This comes less than two years into his run and before he had the opportunity to put a significant imprint on the organization. From the point of view of an outside observer, it looked like he was doing a good job to set up the player`s union to stand up to the owners and being careful to pick his battles so that the most effort was taken on important issues. The main negative in his run had been the departure of ombudsman Eric Lindros . Lindros was upset that he was not given the chance to air his grievances about Kelly`s job performance (which as an ombudsman is Lindros` job). Kelly made ill-advised comments about looking forward to the day when the NHLPA does not need an ombudsman.
In order to legitimize the NHLPA Ombudsman position, Canadian union veteran Buzz Hargrove took the position.
In the salary capped NHL one must be careful when rebuilding a team. It is important to do it while avoiding the long and often unnecessary process of blowing up everything and spending years out of contention. Most teams are not in such bad shape that blowing everything up is a defenceable move. The Vancouver Canucks have a top level goaltender in Roberto Luongo and a pretty good group of forwards led by Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Their defence was looking rather thin. The Canucks had four returning defencemen who had reasonable success last season in Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler, Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell. The only other proven NHLer on defence was Shane O’Brien, who played a lesser role with the team last year. It was clear that some additions were needed on defence.
When in that situation, most teams show up money in hand on the first day of free agency ready to hand a lot of it to the best defenceman they can find. It is a move that can work out, but it often doesn’t as teams usually spend a lot of money in a long term contract that lasts well into the decline phase of the player signed.
The flipside of yesterday’s sabermetrics and hockey post on the top 20 Fenwick Numbers is the worst 20 in 2008/09. That is what I will show today. The Fenwick Number is a measure of puck possession. It measures the differential of shots on goal and missed shots for a player’s team and his opponents when a player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations. It is much like the Corsi Number except that it doesn’t include blocked shots. Both are these are attempts to improve upon +/- ratings by increasing the number of events involved and thus increasing signal to noise in these metrics.
Here are the worst 20 Fenwick Numbers in 5 on 5 situations from last season with comparisons to the worst 20 Corsi numbers.
In my look at sabermetrics and hockey, I have recently introduced the Fenwick Number. The Fenwick Number is alternative to the Corsi Number. It is an attempt to show puck possession and track players similarly to +/- ratings, but with a smaller statistical uncertainty since it includes more events. Fenwick Number is essentially Corsi Number with blocked shots factored out. It is valuable to try these sabermetrics formulations from various starting assumptions because we want to be certain that any conclusions are not merely artefacts of a certain set of starting assumptions.
Today I present the top 20 player Fenwick Numbers from 2008/09 and compare them to the top 20 Corsi Numbers.
The Phoenix Coyotes situation is quickly becoming an even bigger mess than it had already become. The team is in bankruptcy and goes to auction on September 10th. Various hearings will be held in between now and the auction to try to sort out a mess of legal wranglings.
The NHL was dismayed to learn that Jerry Reinsdorf`s group (he is the Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner - and the NHL`s preferred Phoenix owner) has pulled out of the bidding. He has been unable to get sufficient concessions from Glendale, Arizona, where the Coyotes play and cites negative publicity from this sale as having eroded demand in the Phoenix market.
Stepping in to bid is a group called Ice Edge Holdings who are prepared to offer about $150 million and claim to be interested in revitalizing hockey in Phoenix and the Southwestern US. They are a group of local owners, who likely will be strapped financially with an NHL franchise and as such are not the NHL`s ideal solution.
I have been taking my usual look at sabermetrics and hockey this summer. I have spent most of the time looking at the Corsi Number. The Corsi Number is essentially an alternative to +/- ratings. Instead of using only goals scored to tally ratings, it uses all shots directed at goal (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots). This makes the numbers much larger and removes statistical noise to a better degree than +/- does. Corsi is a good judge of puck possession of players. Players with high Corsis tend to dominate in puck possession and those with low Corsis tend to have their opponents dominating in puck possession.
Corsi is not the only alternative to +/- that is used in this manner. Another method, which is less common, is the Fenwick Rating. It is named for Matt Fenwick from the Battle of Alberta blog. He factors out blocked shots from a Corsi Rating to include only shots on goal and missed shots.
Of the Olympic hockey teams in 2010, no team has as many coaching choices as Team Canada does. Most of the NHL’s coaches are Canadians. The decision of who to coach Team Canada coach has many possibilities. It doesn’t really have any wrong answers as long as somebody competent is selected and most (if not all) NHL coaches qualify as competent coaches.
The ideal coach for Team Canada is somebody who has shown he can succeed with a talented team. It is somebody who does not play a complicated system since there is little time for that to be learned (and let’s face it the six month early Olympic orientation camps are near useless). The ideal coach for Team Canada should not have a conflict of interest where he appears to favor his teammates over other players who may be better fits.
In the 2008/09 season, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins led the league in scoring with 113 points. He finished second in the Hart Trophy voting behind Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Does this mean that Malkin is the second best player in the NHL or did the circumstances of how he was played serve to improve his statistics?
Malkin was heavily played in offensive situations by the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, he had the third most prominent offensive zone starter in the NHL last season. This is quite a significant achievement given that Pittsburgh did not have a great season in terms of puck possession. They had more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive zone ones. They finished with a negative team Corsi number. They were a team that got on a hot streak in time for the playoffs, but they had not been dominant in the regular season. In fact, at times during the regular season they looked as though they might miss the playoffs.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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