The Summer of Advanced Stats continued Tuesday and again it was the Toronto Maple Leafs – a team that had long poo-pooed their importance – jumping in head-first.
As was first reported by Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski, the Maple Leafs are the reason everyone’s favorite hockey analytics site has gone offline. Darryl Metcalf, the founder of ExtraSkater.com, was hired by the team. But they didn’t stop there. The Maple Leafs also hired blogger Cam Charron, most recently of Yahoo Sports, and Rob Pettapiece, who worked with the junior hockey blog Buzzing the Net.
The hires come weeks after the Maple Leafs hired 28-year-old Kyle Dubas as their assistant GM. He was formerly the GM for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and is an advocate for the usage of these advanced metrics. In all, the Leafs have created a new analytics department in the organization, which Wyshynski suggested would report to Dubas.
The Leafs weren’t the only ones who dove into the analytics pool this summer, of course. The Edmonton Oilers hired Tyler Dellow, most recently of Sportsnet, in early August and the New Jersey Devils hired Sunny Mehta, a former professional poker player as their Director of Analytics. And these were just the publicized hires around the league.
The usage of analytics aren’t brand new in the NHL and some teams – like the Leafs – are playing catchup now. The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, the two biggest contenders for the Stanley Cup in the past few years, have already been using these stats as a tool. Teams aren’t building their rosters by looking at spreadsheets, but these numbers are now undeniably part of the thought process.
The value of advanced stats, in any sport, is to find inefficiencies in the marketplace that aren’t immediately noticeable. When Billy Beane brought the idea to the front office of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s, he was trying to find an advantage for his small-market, small-budget team. For instance, one of the main focuses became on-base percentage instead of the traditional batting average, since OBP takes walks into account and more accurately calculated how often a player got on base. If you’re on base, you’re more likely to score. This, of course, was the Moneyball movement. Read more