Dollar Sign On the Muscle

This is Dmitri Young. He was at the center of a classic Baseball America article that followed the St. Louis Cardinals during his draft season. The Cards sent one of their scouts (a 104-year old guy) to check him out and he “saw him good” which in baseball-speak means the kid clocked it while eyes were on him. He could hit, hit for power, ran well (really), was a patient hitter and had at least a passable arm.

He kicked the living daylights out of high school pitchers, going 11HR-31RBI-.425 in Oxnard California. The man could hit a ball. Hard.

Young took forever to make it to the show and was traded early and often in his big league career. He had the talent, the proverbial dollar sign on the muscle, but his major league career has been less than expected. And this kid came from gumption, his Dad being born into poverty, putting himself through HS and eventually became one of the U.S. Navy’s First African-American F14 fighter pilots. I find myself hoping Dmitri’s younger brother (Delman) has the career that old timey scout for the Cardinals saw those years ago.

In many ways, hockey scouting isn’t terribly different that the way baseball men look at young talent. Oh sure, the scouting report and grading system are slightly different but the bottom like is scouts are looking for size, speed, hands, smarts, gumption, passion, sacrifice, fundamentals or some combination of them when analyzing a young prospect. A mean streak wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve read many interviews over the years from scouts and when asked about stats they suggest things like “it’s a guideline” or “I usually have a look at the stats in order to tell how a player has been doing since I saw him last time.”

For the life of me I don’t understand why NHL teams don’t track time-on-ice, which players are on the ice against which players, goalies EV SP and many other things that simply have to be useful in evaluating a prospect. These things have value.

Look, I understand that when an Al Hillier is piling up points but is only 5.06 or Ron Chipperfield is lapping the field offensively but is slow as a church mouse that visual is pretty damn important. I also understand that the game has players whose stats don’t reflect their value (stay-at-home defenders and the like) or which of the scoring wingers in junior is going to turn into a solid checker. Watch the games. Talk to the family. Do the aptitude runs. Have the kid run until he pukes. I’m all for it.

But before all that is done, maybe it would be a good idea to make it a universal rule that in every league containing draft prospects you’re going to track TOI, shots on goal, EV SP for goaltenders and the other things that reflect player performance and should be used in evaluation.

The “saw him good” crowd seem to have a very powerful weapon on their side.

Ignorance.

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70 Responses to "Dollar Sign On the Muscle"

  1. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Now one wonders what prompted the outburst?

  2. Lord Bob says:

    Good post, LT. I agree entirely.

    Hey, do you think the Oilers should sign Jani Rita? He had a great goal in the WJCs a couple years ago!

  3. Lowetide says:

    Rita was a helluva prospect but he never made it. I think Eberle will but he could certainly go sideways.

    There was (seriously) a time when Rita was highly rated as a prospect across the NHL and when they finally traded the guy Lowe could pretty nice value.

    He has 12 goals in the SM-LIIGA this season btw after 10 in an injury plagued season last year. In 06-07 he scored 32 in Finland.

    When he was dealt, Rita said “guess I couldn’t deliver what they wanted from me. When I got in the lineup, I was a fourth-liner playing a few shifts. It’s tough to get your confidence up that way. So, I’m really happy to get a new chance here, get some ice time and build my confidence and be a totally new player.”

  4. Oilman says:

    Did Tavares to London have anything to do with this post or was it just good timing?

  5. Doogie2K says:

    Actually, my guess was all the people who somehow “saw Eberle bad” despite his numbers at the WJC and in the WHL this year.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Oilman: No. Wrote it because I thought I’d written it before but couldn’t find it. The search thingy’s on my blog are decent (you can click on the tags on the right or just type in a word top left) but this is something I’ve written before somewhere but couldn’t find.

    Anyway, I had responded to a thread on HF where a couple of posters suggested the blogosphere had “missed the boat” on Glencross and couldn’t reference what I wrote tonight.

    So that’s the deal.

  7. Bruce says:

    LT: I’m sure you wrote something similar before, whether you labelled it funny or maybe it was in a comments section, I dunno. What I do know is that you were right then and you’re right now.

  8. Lord Bob says:

    The post so nice he made it twice.

  9. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Perhaps chaos theory applies to hockey?

    Of course it does.

  10. Bruce says:

    FCM: The latest example of chaos theory is the Oilers’ PK.

  11. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    I don’t know how to break this to you but chaos theory rules hockey because there are too many variables to quantify.

    Explain, for instance, how a defensive bastion like Horcoff is putrid on a PK.

  12. Asiaoil says:

    ….and Cogliano’s SP. I love how Tractor can gloat over the silliness of it all. Our tools are limited and only really suited to explaining the past since the future contains so many unknown variables. Prospect development is a bit of science but mostly still a lot of black art, luck and experience no matter what anyone says.

    I think we need a countdown number – how many days has it been since Lowe made an in-season trade? Time to wake up the useless **** of a GM. Haven’t been this disgusted with the team’s mgmt since the bad old Burnett/Low/Sather days.

  13. dubya says:

    OK, I’m not physicist…

    But chaos theory really has nothing to do with the number of variables, so quit bastardizing the term. Chaos theory refers to systems that appear to be random but are actually deterministic. In fact, chaos theory is about trying to find order in the randomness…which is kinda what the “stats guys” are trying to do.

    Hockey, for the most part, doesn’t appear to be random and all outcomes aren’t decided by the initial conditions. You’re referring to hockey being complex with a lot of interacting variables. That’s it. It has nothing to do with chaos theory, at least as far as I understand it (which is not very far).

  14. Ribs says:

    Speaking of scouts, did you guys know Gare Joyce has a blog on Sporstnets site? I just found it today. Nice!

  15. Asiaoil says:

    …..forgot to say that I also completely agree with you LT – the lack of goalie ES SP in particular has always bugged me. I had a feeling that Pogge and Dubnyk were close in skill level after I cobbled together a rough ES SP analysis years ago – problem is – I also didn’t see them both being so mediocre. Hell of a season that Schneider kid is having though.

  16. St George says:

    think we need a countdown number – how many days has it been since Lowe made an in-season trade? Time to wake up the useless **** of a GM.

    Lobellini may not be a great GM, but I don’t think you can roast them for not swinging a trade – everything I have read in the past few weeks has a number of GMs saying that the cap has created a situation where there is no possibility of significant player movement until the trade deadline. I think in the new NHL, you assemble your roster over the summer and then you are forced to run with it until late Feb.

  17. Coach pb9617 says:

    Thanks Ribs!

    RSS Feed here

  18. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    “dubya said…
    OK, I’m not physicist…

    But chaos theory really has nothing to do with the number of variables, so quit bastardizing the term. Chaos theory refers to systems that appear to be random but are actually deterministic. In fact, chaos theory is about trying to find order in the randomness…which is kinda what the “stats guys” are trying to do.

    Hockey, for the most part, doesn’t appear to be random and all outcomes aren’t decided by the initial conditions. You’re referring to hockey being complex with a lot of interacting variables. That’s it. It has nothing to do with chaos theory, at least as far as I understand it (which is not very far).”

    Hockey has everything to do with chaos because there are so may factors that can’t be measured.

    It has everything to do with long term probabilities.

    You can measure the past but will a new coach in Washington change a losing culture?

    Will Sundin in the lineup make the Canucks play with more confidence?

    I could go on but try and measure that shit.

  19. dubya says:

    I could go on but try and measure that shit.

    Yeah, I know. I was just pointing out that saying “chaos theory governs hockey” is incorrect.

    You’re just saying that hockey is complex. Chaos isn’t really the right term, though there is certainly randomness. Hell, if you’re talking about “losing cultures” you’re just saying the life and human interactions are complex. And it’s not about measuring anything, it’s about looking at various events in a game and trying to determine their predictive value. It’s hard due to the complexity you constantly mention, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless.

    And really, the only reason I mention anything is because your tone is so condescending. Dude, what your saying is not revolutionary or complex. It’s just that many people just disagree. It’s not black and white. Just because you can’t 100% predict the outcome of an upcoming game with Corsi or the value of a player with his On/Off +/- does not negate their value.

  20. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    “And really, the only reason I mention anything is because your tone is so condescending. Dude, what your saying is not revolutionary or complex. It’s just that many people just disagree. It’s not black and white. Just because you can’t 100% predict the outcome of an upcoming game with Corsi or the value of a player with his On/Off +/- does not negate their value.”

    No intention of being condescending or to negate the value of Corsi but it’s important to note how limiting those stats are considering what they can’t measure. And what they can’t measure is likely more of a predictor of outcomes than they are.

    Just saying.

  21. Coach pb9617 says:

    And really, the only reason I mention anything is because your tone is so condescending.

    Welcome to internet hockey forums. Is this your first time? :)

    You are exactly right with what you’re saying. Chaos Theory has nothing to do with hockey. If Chaos Theory dictated hockey, the outcome of each season would be determined at the beginning of each season, regardless of the changes (chaos) that take place throughout the season.

    LT needs more science fiction links in the blogroll so some people can catch up on the actual meanings of these things.

  22. Doogie2K says:

    LT needs more science fiction links in the blogroll so some people can catch up on the actual meanings of these things.

    While we’re at it, I’d be happy with people knowing how a sports psychologist defines “momentum,” versus how a sportscaster does. I think you’d find a world of difference in the way it’s applied. Kind of like the phrase “begs the question”: using it the way most people do drives philosophy majors nuts, not that there’s anything wrong with that: they’re hilarious when they’re mad.

  23. Doogie2K says:

    Again, Google, give me an edit button. I look like a doofus with two colons in one sentence.

  24. Art Vandelay says:

    Or just read Jurassic Park

  25. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    “You are exactly right with what you’re saying. Chaos Theory has nothing to do with hockey. If Chaos Theory dictated hockey, the outcome of each season would be determined at the beginning of each season, regardless of the changes (chaos) that take place throughout the season.

    LT needs more science fiction links in the blogroll so some people can catch up on the actual meanings of these things.”

    You’re obviously having a struggle with the meaning of “chaos”

    It is not determinant at the beginning of the season.

    In fact, the opposite is true.

    If you’re comfortable with predicting the future based on the past without regard for factors that are not measurable, fill your boots.

  26. Bruce says:

    I look like a doofus with two colons in one sentence.

    Doogie: I’m not sure I know what a doofus with two colons looks like.

  27. Coach pb9617 says:

    Ron Chipperfield is lapping the field offensively but is slow as a church mouse that visual is pretty damn important.

    I thought church mice were quiet. Are they also slow? I’m confused. And why are people so concerned by church mice?

    Anyway – the interesting thing about using the underlying numbers to predict performance is that it will take a very long time until it’s understood enough to become the backbone of a GM’s development process. The thing with “saw him good” is that everyone uses it and everyone fails. As long as it’s the norm, a guy can keep getting jobs with other “saw him good” guys. The same guy thinks that if he uses the “Microstats *shudder*“TM and fails, he becomes Ted Nolan.

    Even then, I think there is the danger that the moneyball adherents succumb to in baseball – such a deep belief in the system that they begin to ignore the obvious and use “Microstats *shudder*“TM to justify out and out piss poor decisions in the same way that “saw him good” guys do. It’s like a funky religion.

    “Microstats *shudder*“TM guys right now also have to fight the enormous void of misunderstanding that exists in the 95% of the population and, sadly yes, even 95% of upper-level managers. People don’t know variance, don’t understand standard deviation, don’t get the concept of whale-tails (not the thong out of the top of the blue jeans kind), and don’t understand long-term outlooks. Top that off with your average stats geek that has to be correct RIGHT NOW AND ALL OF THE TIME and you have a recipe for many heated arguments and cold shoulders.

    I think it’s incumbent upon the geeks to make their concepts and the basic concepts of statistics accessible to the mooks in a non-threatening way. If they can’t, the path out of the “saw him good” fireswamps is full of flame spurts, lightning sand and rodents of unusual size. If you’re a hockey fan with no background in baseball and Bill James, who dreadfully underestimates successful stolen bases by the way, how are you supposed to overhaul your frame of reference? For years, you’ve heard that hockey games are won on the power play and that championship teams must have POWER PLAY QUARTERBACKS. You’ve heard the media bang it into your head that checking lines are a necessity to shut down the oppositions forwards. The people that hear this aren’t just the fans – they are the future scouts, coaches, and front-office personnel. Even if the teams they played on disproved the point, if the point has never been revealed to them, how can they know? Because a nameless internet geek told them so? I think not.

    The first guy to use the underlying numbers will be a smooth-talking, well-trusted hockey person with numbers geek troll locked away in the front office spewing out reams of data all day long. He’ll make it famous and become the face of the movement after having done nothing for it except steal it. Not that this has ever happened before.

  28. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    A magnificent effort coach. But let me ask you a question.

    Next season, Horcoff will be paid almost twice as much as Hemsky and Alice has already brought it up once (in jest?)

    Does that have an affect on Hemsky’s performance or team chemistry?

    Please quanitfy.

  29. Bruce says:

    … Bill James, who dreadfully underestimates successful stolen bases by the way …

    Coach: please explain. (If LT will allow a baseball sub-thread, that is, and I’m guessing he will. :)

    My recollection (25 years later) is that James figures 2 out of 3 is break even, since a successful steal gains a base and an unsuccessful one costs a baserunner and an out. Not that they are the same units, but it seemed logical and I have used the 2/3 rule as a guideline ever since. What do you place as a worthwhile percentage, and why?

  30. devin says:

    FCM – don’t be an idiot, Ales isn’t that dumb and he knows the difference between a contract signed in ’06 and one signed in ’08 with a 30% higher cap ceiling.

    Man, it’s painful to read some of this bullshit. I guess you Edmonton guys have to put up with it on a daily basis from the morons at the sports desks around town.

    LT- you’re straight up awesome for calling it what it is: Ignorance.

  31. dubya says:

    A magnificent effort coach. But let me ask you a question.

    Next season, Horcoff will be paid almost twice as much as Hemsky and Alice has already brought it up once (in jest?)

    Does that have an affect on Hemsky’s performance or team chemistry?

    Please quanitfy.

    I really don’t think you get the concept. You don’t have to quantify Hemsky’s feelings or how they’ll affect his point production. But say Hemsky has few points and a huge minus at the 20 game mark. If he has a positive Corsi, a low personal shooting percentage and a low shooting percentage for his teamates while he’s on the ice, and his goalies EV SV% is the shits you could safely assume that he will turn it around. If he’s getting outshot and neither his nor his linemates shooting percentage is significantly different than their career averages, you have a problem. Why? Who fucking cares? (that is, unless you happen to be his coach or GM)

    I don’t think anybody’s looking to quantify how a players mood affects performance, and frankly that’s a silly and disingenuous argument. What people are trying to do is find stats that evaluate a players worth, a players performance relative to his teammates and competition, and how those factors can be used for whole teams to predict results.

  32. Coach pb9617 says:

    To continue my personal “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” tonight, let’s bring a few examples to light.

    Earlier this year, there was a back and forth between one of our resident geeks and one of the media mooks over Wellwood and Ouellet. There was a great kerfuffle and it ended with the stats geek shaking his head in disbelief and the total lack of understanding from the media mook and the media mook calling the stats guy out as an idiot because of media mook ignorance. Now, Wellwood has 14 goals this year. Even though 8 of them are on the power play, even though he’s playing against crap competition and even though he’s shooting 30%, the media mook takes one look at this and declares moral victory. Most of us here know that over a larger sample size, regression towards the mean ends with Wellwood being shitty again. Until such a time, the debate cannot be won and the stats geek is an idiot. The geeks must accept that. Yes, there may be short-run anomalies that dent the armor, but in the long run, the stats leave the mooks awash in battlefield blood.

    There was an argument on here in which a stats geek and a mook were after one and other over some short-term stats line and the stats geek was apoplectic in his writing that the mook wouldn’t understand variance and long-term. In that instance, the battle isn’t going to be won there, no matter if you point out Jacques Richard and Wayne Babick in 1980 or not.

    I was having a rousing debate with the office sports know-it-all. We were discussing the Penguins troubles of late and he has his sites firmly set on Rob Scuderi. I tried to explain to him that Scuderi’s effectiveness in a limited role and limited paycheck make him a pretty nice piece on the backend. No, he’s not meant to slot into a top pairing, but he often does. He also spends over four minutes a game killing penalties, and is giving up 5+GA/60 on the penalty kill. This guy saw him bad and saw him slow one night and so he’s shitty. After explaining Scuderi’s underlying stats matched with his contract over the course of a few weeks, the know-it-all actually almost came around. “You know what, he’s not bad on the penalty kill, I’ve been watching. Waheeeellllllllllll, if YOU’VE been watching, then, you’re right, now he’s not bad on the penalty kill. Thank you for the affirmation.

    There is another class of hockey fans that are neither “saw him goods” or “Microstats” guys. They are the “touchy feelies”. To be honest, they are more maddening than the “saw him goods”. They talk about chemistry, “losing the room”, the almost papal importance of “the captain”, said breathlessly, and things like that. They stay on the fringes and drop this in when possible because they can use it in good times and bad. Things going good? This team has great chemistry and the boys are “tight knit”. Things going poorly? The coach has lost the room and the locker room is split. They probably just need a players only meeting to fix the team. If they bring in a veteran that’s “been through these things before” he can “calm the waters” and push the “soft euros”.

    It’s one thing that always bothered me with Messier-led teams. When they outperformed, it was “the captain” and his brilliant leadership. When they sucked, it wasn’t his fault, the team just sucked. Lindy Ruff is the same way. When he pushes kids to success, he’s a brilliant motivator. When the team falters, they just had no heart.

  33. Coach pb9617 says:

    Kind of like the phrase “begs the question”: using it the way most people do drives philosophy majors nuts,

    It drives me nuts as well. I’ve learned to calm down a bit about it though.

    You’re obviously having a struggle with the meaning of “chaos”

    You didn’t say “chaos” you specifically said “chaos theory” which has nothing to do with the point you’re trying to make.

    Please quanitfy.

    It’s noise that exists only to be filtered. Each individual instance and action has some set of circumstances around it and they don’t need to be quantified because there are statistical sets that exist over the long term that cancel that noise out. People afraid of a crash in frozen concentrated orange juice today have no effect on the long term performance of the futures market. And it still doesn’t have anything to do with chaos theory.

    What do you place as a worthwhile percentage, and why?

    I’m fine with two out of three Bruce, I just don’t think that James counts enough positive measure for those guys and teams that steal at that rate (see: Herzog, Whitey and Royals 77-79 and Cardinals 84-88).

    I’ve tinkered in the past with stats – SLG+ bases from SB and OPS+ bases from SB, and I’ve also tinkered with RISP SLG and such and adjusting that to give the base stealers some credit.

    By the way, I couldn’t convince my wife to use Dorrel as my son’s name, but after harping on it for awhile, when I brought up Nolan, the name I wanted all along, it was a big victory :) Expecting a power-pitching righty and I get a lefty with a sidearm delivery. Jesse Orosco II!

  34. Lord Bob says:

    Ah, stat guys. Every time they’re wrong, they mumble something about “statistical aberration” and suddenly they’re right again.

    Sorry, kids, but in the real world where your mommy isn’t cutting your hot dogs for you, it doesn’t work that way!

    (Note: I’m just trying to tick people off now. :P)

  35. Coach pb9617 says:

    Put Fooled by Randomness on your reading list. It explains Ken Hodge in 1990 and the Florida Panthers making a cup final :)

  36. mc79hockey says:

    Good stuff from coach in this thread. I’ll second his recommendation for Fooled by Randomness.

    My recollection (25 years later) is that James figures 2 out of 3 is break even, since a successful steal gains a base and an unsuccessful one costs a baserunner and an out. Not that they are the same units, but it seemed logical and I have used the 2/3 rule as a guideline ever since. What do you place as a worthwhile percentage, and why?

    State of the art is that 75% is the breakeven, although it changes depending on the game state – IIRC, Dave Roberts stolen base in 2004 didn’t need a particularly high success rate to be a smart play, given that Rivera gives up few extra-base hits and the Sox were down a run.

    Next season, Horcoff will be paid almost twice as much as Hemsky and Alice has already brought it up once (in jest?)

    Does that have an affect on Hemsky’s performance or team chemistry?

    Please quanitfy.

    My views on this have gotten a little more nuanced over time. I suspect that it does little, particularly given that, assuming Hemsky isn’t a fucking moron, he knows what kind of scratch Horcoff was pulling down when he was Hemsky’s age. He presumably understands that FA status affects the contract that one will get. I would think that the real problem would arise if there wasn’t a way for Hemsky to rationalize making less money than Horcoff. If he can’t rationalize it, given the circumstances, he’s a loon.

    To the broader point, the difficulty that I have with it is that, taken to its logical conclusion, all discussion of everything is meaningless because there’s nothing more that wild guesses about complete fucking unknowables. I’d prefer to ground myself in the stuff that can be known, acknowledge that it’s not going to be perfect (variance etc.) and acknowledge that there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns that are, by definition, unknowable. I don’t see the logic in throwing up one’s hands and weeping at the futility of it all.

  37. Lord Bob says:

    Put Fooled by Randomness on your reading list. It explains Ken Hodge in 1990 and the Florida Panthers making a cup final :)

    I thought John Vanbiesbrouck explained the Florida Panthers making a Cup final. :P

  38. mattwatt says:

    I am always amazed by how some people just cannot come around to the idea that numbers can be used in a sport’s setting to gain greater insight into what is occurring. Bill Simmons had a great article awhile back where he briefly mentioned that NBA teams had become so immersed in using sabermetrics (sorry if I am using the wrong term here) that they tell their team “Player X shoots 35% worse if you make him work off his dribble to the left, so make him go left.” Simmons even makes the assertion that this has played a large part in the drop in scoring during NBA games, which to even any rational male makes sense. Players, like every other human, have tendencies they rely on to succeed, so why not exploit the tendencies that said player sucks at?

    There is some reasoning to “well numbers do not explain everything.” Yeah, they do not explain how the Celtics are faltering now due to losing some of their lustre (and a pathetic bench) or how some players can be a huge cancer on team chemistry (this does occur, as much as you would like to admit it or not), but numbers can give us a lot of insight as to why player X is performing the way he is. We all knew Joffrey “Zoolander” Lupul was a pussy who could not hold his own against half ass players, and low and behold, the numbers drove this point home better then anything else.

    Numbers to me are like milk. They are not necessarily essential, but shit do they do the body good.

  39. Rod says:

    Mainly posting to say thanks for the great thread. Lots of good stuff here.

    One more thing…me like the SB. :-)

    One question re: the break-even point. mc79 mentioned that situationally it changes. That in itself makes sense to me. Score, count, pitcher/batter matchup, outs, road/home, etc. I can’t help but think another aspect that affects the break even point is playoffs vs. regular season. Partly because playoff teams usually have better pitching (in the general sense), but also because the “long term” just isn’t there in the playoffs. As a result, it’s possible successful stolen bases have a bigger impact. Speed changes the equations somewhat in the playoffs…and maybe that goes partway to explaining the A’s inability to pull through in the playoffs vs. their regular season success.

    Then again, maybe I’m just trying to promote the SB (did I mention I like the SB? :-).

  40. hunter1909 says:

    You know, the more hockey turns into baseball, with stats, and all the other baloney(my opinion), the more I see it remaining exactly the same as what it probably was in the 1960′s, when b+w tv showed guys without helmets.

    In other words, hockey is a team sport like few other. Put a Gretzky on the team, and wait 4-5 seasons, and watch it win a cup.

    In short, it’s a game that for the most part rewards the teams with the right mix of talent and toughness.

    Probably more like Mayan basketball than anything else.

    Hockey is a game of high emotion. Like a fistfight. And confidence. Which is why teams with the Orr’s and Gretzky’s somehow manage to develop very good players, where the perennial doormats produce the odd star, but never ever make it past the opening playoff rounds. I wonder how many of the Oilers past greats would have been great without Gretzky on the team, astonishing everyone every single time he had the puck. Or, if the Oilers had an entirely different set of young players out of junior, would they have achieved the same heights? I would think that, with Gretzky, most anyone who starred at the junior level would have had a great shot at getting where the Oilers dynasty got to.

    And please, before you all jump down my throat yapping about the post Oilers version of Gretzky, I would say that on the Kings he was just a figurehead player for the league, and the Kings essentially traded away so many 1st round picks that it was always going to be impossible for them to build the right team around him.

    It’s also why Pat Quinn would be a great coach for the Oilers. Sure MacXXXX was good with his veteran team in 2006, but he’s also got the worst attitude imaginable for impressionable young players. Quinn makes everyone laugh, like the Irish blowhard loves to do, unlike the dour MacTavish, who just seems to suck the life(and confidence) out of his players.

    This game is about confidence. And hope. How many games have we all played against ‘better’ teams, but won anyway? It’s all like a big a con game. Not university level philosophy.

    I’m sure there is a place for the cerebralisation of hockey. But there will also always be a place for that primordal emotiveness, and woe betide any team that ignores this reality.

  41. Asiaoil says:

    Nice take hunter….I like and use the stats a lot – but at the end of the day I’m a fan and watch the game with some passion. My person goal is not a hockey version of Cypher watching the matrix code scroll down the screen and being able to pick out Hemsky, Souray and Cole like blond, brunette and redhead. Our inability to predict how any season or situation will actually turn out is not a failing….it’s the reason why we care in the first place.

  42. Matt N says:

    Is there any significant evidence that teams are/ are not using “sabermetrics” in their scouting department? I have heard of rumblings from San Jose and Buffalo.

    Do we know for sure that there are not stat trolls in the basement of every NHL team?

  43. mc79hockey says:

    I wonder how many of the Oilers past greats would have been great without Gretzky on the team, astonishing everyone every single time he had the puck. Or, if the Oilers had an entirely different set of young players out of junior, would they have achieved the same heights? I would think that, with Gretzky, most anyone who starred at the junior level would have had a great shot at getting where the Oilers dynasty got to.

    I wonder if a lot of the Oiler greats were actually that great or whether people got confused by Gretzky’s presence. There’s a pretty solid case in favour of that, IMO.

  44. devin says:

    Sure MacXXXX was good with his veteran team in 2006, but he’s also got the worst attitude imaginable for impressionable young players. Quinn makes everyone laugh, like the Irish blowhard loves to do, unlike the dour MacTavish, who just seems to suck the life(and confidence) out of his players.

    Dude, how the hell do you know? You’re talking out your ass. You MacT haters pretend like the Oilers are this massively underachieving team and he’s the only problem (based on your own inventions of personality issues and “coaching style”).

    What the “stats guys” want is to actually provide some evidence for your claims. You have none, so you resort to the usual fairytale BS.

  45. Doogie2K says:

    I’m not sure I know what a doofus with two colons looks like.

    Like the five-assed monkey from that one South Park episode except, you know, fewer.

    I think it’s incumbent upon the geeks to make their concepts and the basic concepts of statistics accessible to the mooks in a non-threatening way. If they can’t, the path out of the “saw him good” fireswamps is full of flame spurts, lightning sand and rodents of unusual size.

    I may have mentioned this before, but a couple of years ago, Vic set up a blog that was originally supposed to bring a lot of the code he and the others use to the masses, so they could contribute, but has since fallen into disuse. Similarly, Matt started trying to lay out the philosophy and reasoning of the moneypuck contingent back in September (here’s the last part I can find, with links to the others), but the project unfortunately got shelved, partially because the season began and I suspect partially because of all the fighting around that point.

    Put a Gretzky on the team, and wait 4-5 seasons, and watch it win a cup.

    Eric Desjardins might have something to say about that. ;)

  46. Coach pb9617 says:

    My person goal is not a hockey version of Cypher watching the matrix code scroll down the screen and being able to pick out Hemsky, Souray and Cole like blond, brunette and redhead. Our inability to predict how any season or situation will actually turn out is not a failing….it’s the reason why we care in the first place.

    And you miss the point of the stats guys. They are attempting to quantify performance and use it in a predictive manner over the long term. This is why a guy such as MC can still watch a game and have fun.

    Stats guys know that nothing they do, say or know has any bearing on single instances/games/seasons throughout a career, but they know most likely which direction that career is pointing and why. It’s the difference between them and the “saw him goods” – they know where the career/season/team is headed based on the underlying numbers. The “saw him goods” hope they know based on a night in December 2006 in Red Deer.

  47. Coach pb9617 says:

    Do we know for sure that there are not stat trolls in the basement of every NHL team?

    Put simply: look at the roster moves that NHL teams are making.

  48. hunter1909 says:

    “Dude, how the hell do you know? You’re talking out your ass. You MacT haters pretend like the Oilers are this massively underachieving team and he’s the only problem (based on your own inventions of personality issues and “coaching style”).

    What the “stats guys” want is to actually provide some evidence for your claims. You have none, so you resort to the usual fairytale BS.” Devan

    You want stats? Okay. Let’s start with the W v L column. Or exhibit 2 – Oilers not even in the playoff mix, despite MacT yapping about how this team would be challenging for the division.

    Happy? Or do you prefer someone to massage the statistics until they tell you what you to want to see?

  49. Doogie2K says:

    None of that has anything to do with injuries, unexpectedly poor PK play, nonsensical roster decisions, or the inconsistency of youth. It’s clearly the stats guys’ fault the Oilers are underperforming to their potential.

    I guess Quain needs to add this to his list after “…if Horcoff was a true #1 centre” and “…if MacTavish hadn’t lost the room.”

  50. devin says:

    You want stats? Okay. Let’s start with the W v L column. Or exhibit 2 – Oilers not even in the playoff mix, despite MacT yapping about how this team would be challenging for the division.

    Happy? Or do you prefer someone to massage the statistics until they tell you what you to want to see?

    Would you rather Mac told us the team wasn’t a contender? There’s little separating the Oilers from the pack- but to assume that this team isn’t in its rightful place in the standings is something of a stretch. This isn’t a world beating roster – I don’t see why you Mac bashers don’t turn on Lowe for not filling the obvious holes.

    And you’re conflating two separate debates here — the “stats guys” debate isn’t talking about the day to day emo bullshit that HFBoards members obsess over (and you seem a party to with your BS about the coach’s personality flaws). The micro-stats test hypotheses about real life results against past evidence. Instead of listening to Brownlee tell you what you’re seeing, you can actually research the empirical evidence.

    How some of you guys fail to grasp this is beyond me. LT- sorry for flying off the handle, but I rarely post here because the reading is so good. Lately though there’s been an influx of imbeciles and it’s driving quality posters away (and me nuts.)

  51. GSC says:

    Us “saw him good” advocates don’t dismiss stats as readily as you may be inclined to believe, LT. We’re always caught looking at the stats, it’s just that we don’t use them as the sole indicator of how a prospect will develop.

    It doesn’t hurt to have an eye for the game and to see a player do his thing on the ice. It’s quite important for the intangibles that the numbers don’t measure: positioning, physicality, vision, awareness, hockey sense. These things can’t be given a numerical value, as stats do not always account for how a prospect will develop.

    There has to be a happy medium. A “hybrid,” if you will…

  52. Big T says:

    [i]GSC said…
    Us “saw him good” advocates don’t dismiss stats as readily as you may be inclined to believe, LT. We’re always caught looking at the stats, it’s just that we don’t use them as the sole indicator of how a prospect will develop.

    It doesn’t hurt to have an eye for the game and to see a player do his thing on the ice. It’s quite important for the intangibles that the numbers don’t measure: positioning, physicality, vision, awareness, hockey sense. These things can’t be given a numerical value, as stats do not always account for how a prospect will develop.

    There has to be a happy medium. A “hybrid,” if you will…[/i]

    GSC; you’re re-telling LT’s post almost word for word. He just said that actually viewing the player is a very important part of scouting and enjoying the game. But anyone who dismisses these secondary stats (the meaningful ones, not just the counting stats) is a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. You’re leaving yourself at an incredable disadvantage when you’re trying to truly understand the game.

  53. Big T says:

    HTML guys, what am I missing there to put that quote in italics??

  54. hunter1909 says:

    “And you’re conflating two separate debates here — the “stats guys” debate isn’t talking about the day to day emo bullshit that HFBoards members obsess over (and you seem a party to with your BS about the coach’s personality flaws). The micro-stats test hypotheses about real life results against past evidence. Instead of listening to Brownlee tell you what you’re seeing, you can actually research the empirical evidence.

    How some of you guys fail to grasp this is beyond me. LT- sorry for flying off the handle, but I rarely post here because the reading is so good. Lately though there’s been an influx of imbeciles and it’s driving quality posters away (and me nuts.)” Devan

    Conflating? LMAO

    Why not simply use the word ‘confusing’. Oh yeah, it doesn’t make you sound important enough.

    Who worries about what anyone else says? Brownlee? Who cares? Hasn’t it ever dawned on you that more than one person is capable of drawing a similar conclusion?

    I’m merely stating my opinion. I’m not particularly interested in micro stats when applied to hockey. I’m lame, so I just go by the current position of the team in the standings, GF, GA, wins, PP, and PK – and what I see is a 20th place team with a 12th place budget.

    And as for being called an imbecile, just because I happen to understand things in a deeper sense than you seem to be capable of, what’s the use in even trying to make you understand?

    You seem like someone with a skewed sense of reading comprehension. Either that or you just don’t know people very well.

    Go to my blog and scroll down – you will find out exactly what I think of Kevin Lowe.

  55. Tyler says:

    And you’re conflating two separate debates here…

    Conflating? LMAO

    Why not simply use the word ‘confusing’. Oh yeah, it doesn’t make you sound important enough.

    Conflating and confusing actually have subtly different meanings. You can conflate two issues without confusing them.

    LOL. LMAO. etc. JFC,ISOPWTOPTBASAT.

  56. GSC says:

    The stats that I pay the most attention to: the NHL standings.

    They’re the only ones that matter when the night is over.

  57. devin says:

    Thank you Tyler.

    Hunter, I don’t want to go to your blog. I want you to stay there and leave LT’s comments section alone because you add nothing of any value.

    But hey, I’m just venting. This isn’t my blog and everyone is free to speak their mind. I just yearn for the days when people didn’t have to debate evolution v. creationism, so to speak.

  58. hunter1909 says:

    Devin: I don’t give a flying fuck what you think.

    Is there anything you don’t understand about that?

  59. Coach pb9617 says:

    Use < and > to open and close the tag, not [ and ]

  60. Master Lok says:

    You want stats? Okay. Let’s start with the W v L column. Or exhibit 2 – Oilers not even in the playoff mix, despite MacT yapping about how this team would be challenging for the division. -hunter1909

    So…
    1) You’re accepting MacT’s gospel about the expectations at the start of the season, and yet you think he’s an idiot. ?
    2) Would you be content if MacT had said that the team was going to mediocre, struggling for 8th place then, but with the same results? If yes, then I would suggest you don’t listen to MacT and just watch his coaching.

  61. Bruce says:

    Devin, it definitely isn’t evolution vs. creationism. Some days there’s often not much evidence of intelligent design in these discussions.

    That said, for all he can be a sharp and stubborn rock against the current of ‘sphere opinion, when Hunter says things like “what I see is a 20th place team with a 12th place budget” he speaks truth. Just because it’s a simple truth doesn’t make it any less relevant; I would argue au contraire.

  62. devin says:

    Bruce, yeah, agreed. That’s a valid point and it’s a frustration we all share about this mediocre franchise we cheer for.

    I was referring more to Hunter’s contributions over time. What really set me off was the stuff about Mac’s personality. That kind of stuff has really taken root with the casual fan even though there’s no evidence behind it. It seems to be the kind of stuff the “anti-stats” crowd likes to spout — typical of a certain mentality.

    Hunter- I’m glad, I don’t care what you think either. This is a blog comment section, we’re not curing cancer here.

  63. hunter1909 says:

    Master Lok – Nice try. No, I just get all of my opinions from whatever sports pundits based in Toronto tell me to think about the Oilers. You know, guys like John Brophy and that Mackenzie dude over at TSN, LOL.

    My deep and abiding understanding of drunken Scots/Irishmen(MacT+Quinn) is sublime – having come from a large family full of both types.

  64. Big T says:

    Coach pb9617 said…
    Use < and > to open and close the tag, not [ and ]

    Thanks Coach!

    (He said like he was a Hanson Brother)

  65. Big T says:

    Hunter1909,

    Didn’t you promise a while ago to leave LT’s site and never come back???

    If not, I must be confusing you with a different Hunter that was here.

  66. CrazyCoach says:

    Hey LT,

    I know I’ve bashed it in the past, but I understand your frustration on the “saw him good” argument. My explanation as to why most scouts shy away from the methods you describe, is that by and large, there still exists in hockey today a great percentage of people who are reluctant to change and a sense of bullying that occurs.

    When I took my Advanced level 1 coaching, our stats guy was Dr. Peter Royals from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. He taught stats to college kids and was a hockey guy, so he was awesome in that he knew his stuff and could relate it to a room full of coaches. I learned a lot that day and still practice what I was taught. Stats do show you a lot and for all you coaches out there, they are a great tool to use for an overzealous parent who needs a task to keep them out of your hair. “Mr. Jones, I need someone to track offensive and defensive turnovers within ten feet of the blue lines. I heard you were good at stats.” (wink wink)

    There is great technology at ones disposal (video, stats programs, PDA’s, etc., but they are not used enough.

  67. hunter1909 says:

    Big T:

    …Maybe.

    Then came the call from Craig MacTavish who begged me to return. “Hunter1909 it’s a jungle in that blog! Please, you’s gots to get back in there and defend me.” MacT

  68. Asiaoil says:

    Coach said…And you miss the point of the stats guys. They are attempting to quantify performance and use it in a predictive manner over the long term. This is why a guy such as MC can still watch a game and have fun.

    Coach…I consider myself a stats guy but you are profoundly misguided if you think that the simple tools in use around here are in any way “reliable” or capable of accurately predicting future performance. In fact it is well proven that the use of simple stats to describe complex phenomena can often be more harmful than useful (see “Useless Arithmatic”). MC, Vic and the rest are very bright guys who add a lot of value in explaining why things turned out the way they did last night or last season. However – they are only guessing slightly less than the mooks with regard to future performance. See Cogliano’s shooting stats – stats guys (me included) thought it would fall. It clearly has not – so traktor’s guess is as good as the simple stats in use. The simple stats are also completely unable to discern whether this is a B2B short-term blip over 2 seasons (he will return to the norm) or his shooting percentage is a longterm trend. We don’t know and have no way of knowing….deal with it.

    Also…we all bash “seen him good” but intuition based on deep experience is a complicated thing that can outperform quantitative analysis – especially in unusual situations. Experts are useful for a reason. Humans are complex pattern recognition machines and a true expert’s view should never be dismissed lightly if it does not match simple quant analysis or conventional thought.

    So a hybrid approach is best in my opinion – use the stats to understand the past and simply enjoy the game and season as it unfolds because knowledge of the future is not accessible to you with a dollar store calculator.

  69. hunter1909 says:

    Putting together a hockey team isn’t rocket science.

    Talent evaluation from the great coaches throughout history tends to be incredibly simple. At least on the surface.

    Vince Lombardi treated everyone equally – like dogs.

    Brian Clough(the English genius coach who took the equivalent of an AHL team to win the European club soccer Championship twice) won because he simplified the game.

    Or taking Mohammed Ali’s comments about how it’s not the gym where great boxers are made, but the deep desire inside which sets them apart from the rest.

    I’m sure detailed stats have their place, and all that.

    But in a game that’s more akin to a streetfight than any other sport I can think of, things like confidence, faith in your team mates + coach, and knowing your back is going to be covered when the chips are down, will usually be the deciding factor when all is said and done.

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