I received an email the other day with a proposal for player tracking, which for the sake of privacy, I won’t go into here. But the proposed metric was similar in some respects to the somewhat infamous Neilson Numbers (which you can read up on here). I thought I’d publish some of my thoughts on these types of metrics here, since at first glance they seem much more useful than something like corsi.
More arguments over the role of character in team sports have been waged than Simpsons episodes watched this past week. Well, maybe not. But every day it seems, a main stream media member churns out a piece on the value that a fourth liner brings to an organization, one supposedly well beyond their pay grade and ice time. Inevitably, bloggers and analysts shoot back about the lack of correlation between toughness and victory, or the impossibility of measuring something like leadership in the grand scheme of the game.
Jack Han, formerly of the Montreal Canadiens, now of Habs EOTP, wrote an interesting article yesterday on whether the Canadiens should allow their fans to vote on the team’s captaincy, or, on a larger scale, whether sports are trending towards a non-profit model.
It was only this summer that I found out that such a model was present anywhere, let alone in the NFL – for a Bears fan, the idea that the Packers are innovative frustrates me to no end – but I spent several hours researching the idea, and was fascinated by what I found. For those that don’t know, allow me to summarize.
There’s a scene in Moneyball where Red Sox owner John Henry offers his vacant GM position to Billy Beane. “Anybody who’s not tearing their team down right now and rebuilding it using your model,” he says. “They’re dinosaurs.” The Oakland A’s were the first movers of modern sports analytics. They took a risk, and while there were stumbles along the way, they benefitted as a result. In hockey, it took a decade longer for any kind of true analytic implementation, and we’re still not quite in “tear down and rebuild using your model” territory. So why has it taken so long? I think the answer lies in the hockey world’s view of baseball. NHL executives are drawn to the differences between the two sports rather than their similarities. Yes, baseball is a stop-start game whereas hockey is fluid. And yes, baseball involves more one-on-one matchups and less team play. But beyond that, the games – and the strategies that result in building the best possible teams – are actually quite similar.
In June of 2010 I joined Twitter, and I had no idea at that point what an impact it would have on my ability to analyze and process the game of hockey. In the four years since, I’ve read thousands of articles, and was fortunate to be welcomed into Habs Eyes On The Prize, able to share my writing, research, and analysis with its loyal and diverse readership. Don’t worry, I’m not stepping down from anything, and I hope to continue to contribute analytical Habs-related content to EOTP, but I decided near the end of last season that I wanted to start my own blog, giving myself ultimate editorial freedom and the ability to jump from team-to-team, sport-to-sport, topic-to-topic and serve what I hope will become a readership of my own. Now that we are nearing the beginning of another NHL season, I thought it was the right time to act on that decision.