The NHL has several markets that are in poor shape financially. The most prominent example is that of the Phoenix Coyotes, who are in bankruptcy. The team will be auctioned off very soon, with no clear end in sight to all the litigation and potential financial issues. The Tampa Bay Lightning are probably the NHL’s next serious problem. Owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie have barely had enough money to keep the team afloat. With Barrie apparently dropping out due to his financial difficulties, it leaves behind Oren Koules to run an underfunded team with declining fan support.
Yesterday, I wrote about the sabermetrics and hockey problem of combining zone starts and Corsi Number. There is as method used by objective NHL that treats Corsi Numbers as a rate statistic and adjusts by a factor similar to the percentage of offensive - defensive zone starts divided by total zone starts. I do not think this is the best method to treat this data.
I take the raw Corsi Number as a starting point. Since each extra offensive zone start is worth on average 0.8 Corsi (or each extra defensive zone start costs on average 0.8 Corsi), I merely add on a factor of 0.8 * (defensive - offensive zone starts). I think this method is more straight forward and better accomplishes the adjustment we are looking for.
In my sabermetrics and hockey posts this summer, I have introduced the concepts of the Corsi Number and of zone starts. Corsi Numbers measure the number of shots directed at goal (including shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) and zone starts measure which region on the ice that a player is in when he is on the ice for a faceoff. It should be clear that if you start frequently in the offensive zone that you should see a benefit in your Corsi Number as a result. Similarly, if you take a lot of faceoffs in your own zone, it should hurt your Corsi Number. This is one thing that can be adjusted for. In fact, objective NHL has done this.
The medal round of the Women’s Canada Cup has been played in Vancouver, British Columbia this weekend. For preliminary round results look here.
In the semi-finals, USA met Finland and Canada met Sweden. Here are the results:
USA 4 Finland 0 This was a re-match of the only preliminary round game that USA lost. This time they had a better game. Meghan Duggan scored a hat trick for the US team, with Gigi Marvin assisting on each of the goals. Jocelyne Lamoureux added the other US goal. Jessie Vetter stopped 19 Finland shots for a shutout. Noora Ratty was in goal for Finland.
Canada 7 Sweden 2 The outcome of this game was never really in question. Canada took a 6-0 lead into the dressing room at the end of the second period. Emotions got a little out of control and a couple near brawls occurred. In the third period, Sweden managed to get on the scoreboard but it was too little too late. Hayley Wickenheiser and Sarah Vaillancourt each scored two goals for Canada. Kim St Pierre was the winning Canadian goalie. Isabelle Jordansson and Danileja Rundqvist scored the Swedish goals. Sara Grahn was in goal for the losing Swedish effort.
The women’s Canada Cup hockey tournament is underway. It is being played in Vancouver. Four teams are playing: Canada, Finland, Sweden and USA. The preliminary round is now over. Here are the results:
1. Canada 2 wins 1 loss 19 goals for 6 against. Canada easily beat Finland and Sweden with 10-2 and 7-0 scores respectively and then lost to the Americans in 4-2 game. Canada’s balanced attack featured strong performances from Rebecca Johnston, Haley Irwin, Hayley Wickenheiser and Caroline Ouellette. In goal they used Kim St Pierre and Shannon Szabados, who were not tested much until the USA game.
2. USA 2 wins 1 loss 13 goals for 6 against. USA managed to defeat Canada, but they had lost earlier to Finland. The US attack was led by Hillary Knight with five points and Caitlin Cahow and Natalie Darwitz who each added four. Molly Schaus took over the US nets after the Finland loss and has played very well.
3. Finland 1 win 2 losses 6 goals for 15 against. Finland’s success was their opening day 3-2 upset against USA. They have not won since. Their offence has been led by Saara Tuominen and Michelle Karvinen, each have 3 points. Noora Ratty has been their top goalie. She stole the game against USA, while being outshot 51-23.
In my most recent sabermetrics and hockey posts I have been discussing the Fenwick Number. It is essentially a measure of puck possession that measures all 5 on 5 shots on goal and missed shots for and against when a given player is on the ice. It is much like the Corsi Number. Both Fenwick and Corsi Numbers are attempts to find a replacement for +/- ratings that will include more events and thus have higher signal to noise. I have listed the players with the top 20 and worst 20 Fenwick Numbers as well as listing the team Fenwick Numbers.
Today I will address the question of whether the Fenwick or the Corsi Number better correlates with winning.
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.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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