Tell No One

by Lowetide

The strangest firing of a coach—technically a demotion—saw Al MacNeil take over as head man of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs only weeks after coaching the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1971. MacNeil’s crime? Correctly identifying that John Ferguson was eroding (replaced by Bobby Sheehan for a time, and then carried to the finish line by a young Rejean Houle who played wing on the other side and did all the checking) and that there were nights when the Habs had three centers better than Henri Richard.

One minute MacNeil was saying “I have no comment on my decision to bench John Ferguson”, the next minute Henri Richard said “(MacNeil) is incompetent. The worst coach I’ve ever played for” and bam! Scotty Bowman is the new head coach in Montreal. Firing the coach is the easiest, and therefore the busiest, way of addressing a team’s shortcomings. Todd McLellan’s Oilers have been an opportunity missed so far, we’ll see if today brings any news. My guess is we’re close to a move, with the season in the balance and recent performances so very poor. No one likes to see people lose jobs, but there is an inevitability about this situation hanging in the Edmonton air this morning. The Oilers spent the weekend worrying about Matt Tkachuk and what Ryan Strome didn’t bring, and they gifted four points to the enemy. Very bad.

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton is going to bring it all season long. Proud to be part of a lineup that is ready to cover the coming year. Outstanding coverage from a large group, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis, Lowetide, Minnia Feng and Pat McLean. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s your chance. Best available offer is here!

  • New Jonathan Willis: A list of which Oilers are likely to be traded.
  • New Tyler Dellow: Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner looks like a change for change sake
  • New Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
  • Jonathan Willis: Tobias Rieder will miss a critical month, creating problems for Edmonton but opportunities for its players.
  • Tyler Dellow: If nothing changes, Oilers should buy out Milan Lucic next summer.
  • Lowetide: The past, present and future of the Andrej Sekera contract.
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Elmer Benning on his 47 years as a scout (excellent article).
  • Jonathan Willis: After several failed attempts to fix their issues on the wings, it’s time for the Oilers to explore the trade market.
  • Lowetide: Connor McDavid, a 50-goal season and chasing Phil Esposito’s magical 1970-71.
  • Lowetide: Oilers send Puljujarvi and Yamamoto to Bakersfield; recall Marody
  • Lowetide: Oilers trade options: Dealing from strength is finally a possibility.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Klefbom-Larsson were 15-12 in 18:21, 13-8 shots, 0-2 goals and 4-3 HDSC. A weird weekend, the top pairing was porous, Larsson had three shots to Klefbom’s two and Oscar blocked five shots! Duo played in some poor luck but need to be better. Karlsson line went 7-5 Corsi 5-on-5 with a pair of goals against the Swedes.
  • Garrison-Russell went 8-13 in 11:19 together, 2-6 shots, 2-5 HDSC and no goals.  Russell is more effective on third pair, I like him with Kevin Gravel more than Garrison. Pair were 3-6 against the Tuch line but were also 1-0 in goals.
  • Nurse-Benning were high event and that shouldn’t be their role. Were 10-19 in 13:58, 5-9 shots, 2-2 goals and 2-3 HDSC. The Benning pass to Drake Caggiula was a Monty Python sequence and an instructional video for ‘is our children learning?’ Gack! Were 3-8, 1-1 goals against the Eakin line. The pairings minutes were reduced on the weekend, partly due to Nurse’s Saturday night fight.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 25 of 31, .806. I think he is a little lost these days, but the Golden Knights are a fine shooting team. Doesn’t matter of course, Mikko Koskinen is eating his lunch. Still, I’m not going to bury Talbot, Edmonton still has a chance and they’ll need him. Talbot is bleeding free-agent dollars now though. Man.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Lucic-Marody-Russell is the least likely combination ever, but were 15-8 in 11:40, 9-4 shots and 5-1 HDSC. I mean honestly. Went 9-5 in five minutes against McNabb-Miller. I wonder what Tyler Benson would look like on this line.
  • Caggiula-McDavid-Draisaitl were 18-17 in 16:31, 10-9 shots, 2-2 goals and 5-4 HDSC. Went 11-3 against Engelland, 11-7 against McNabb, 9-4 against Holden and 5-7 against Miller. McDavid looked frustrated for much of the game, perhaps trying to do too much. However, he also did some things that were other-worldly.
  • Spooner-Nuge-Chiasson were 7-15 in 10:21, 6-6 shots, 0-1 goals and 0-3 HDSC. This line isn’t working so far, Nuge can’t seem to pass the puck lately and Spooner is serving as an alarm for impending doom when stepping on the ice. Lordy.
  • Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian were 1-12 in 12:16, 0-1 goals. Disaster. 0-5 HDSC. Barf.

OBSERVATIONS

The stats above. Do you enjoy them? Let me know.

  • Ryan Spooner: He’s a good NHL player but in two games Spooner is showing up in some bad video. He lit the runway for Pacioretty while never impacting a thing. Classic ‘also in photo’ play.
  • Ty Rattie was a healthy scratch.
  • In the two games since Ryan Strome has been traded, the PK hasn’t been able to keep opponents off the scoresheet.
  • Cooper Marody did some good things with the puck last night.
  • Leon Draisaitl is a fine young player, needs a little more refinement without the puck but he’s going to have a long successful career as an above average NHL player. In my opinion.
  • Zack Kassian isn’t as noticeable as Patrick Russell.
  • Alex Chiasson sure scores goals a lot.

OILERS AFTER 20

  • Oilers in October 2015: 7-12-1, 15 points; goal differential -8
  • Oilers in October 2016: 11-8-1, 23 points; goal differential +7
  • Oilers in October 2017: 7-11-2, 16 points; goal differential -13
  • Oilers in October 2018: 9-10-1, 19 points; goal differential -9

The 2018 team is now closer to the 2017 edition than the playoff group of 2016. The current Oilers are on pace to finish about the same as the group from last year. The 2017-18 team was 36-40-6 for 78 points, this year’s team would come in about 37-41-4, 78 points. That’s going to get everyone fired. This season needs a turnaround quickly, that usually means a coaching change.

OILERS IN NOVEMBER

  • Oilers in November 2015: 3-5-1, seven points; goal differential -2
  • Oilers in November 2016: 2-6-1, five points; goal differential -11
  • Oilers in November 2017: 4-4-1, nine points; goal differential +3
  • Oilers in November 2018: 3-6-0, six points; goal differential -7

The gales of November have been a consistent issue for McLellan’s Oilers, the team is bleeding out in real time. What’s more, and this is going to be an issue for this week, much of the future is in Bakersfield. Is that a good idea? Does playing the complementary players above (Spooner, Patrick Russell) give the team productive time to further develop Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto? Or are they the first two men back from Bakersfield when the change comes.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER

  • At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) Actual (1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida  (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 1-3-0)
  • At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • At home to: Vegas (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • On the road to: San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Dallas, Los Angeles  (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games 
  • Current results: 3-6-0, 6 points in 9 games

This isn’t yet a complete disaster and it cannot be one. I have the Oilers winning three more games this month, that gets them to 12 points in 14 games. You can recover from that kind of a run, but man it can’t be worse than 6-8-0 on November 30.

PERSONAL OPINION

I believe the Oilers are going to replace the coach in the coming days. A strong trip to the west coast could save Todd McLellan’s job but we’re not even sure he’ll be on the plane. My stated opinion has been this all along: He didn’t have the horses. I can’t tell you how much impact he had on the trades that sent away all the goals, but if we agree the coach coaches and the general manager procures, then firing the coach today means ownership didn’t aim high enough. In my opinion.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we’ll kick start Grey Cup week in Edmonton! Scheduled to appear:

  • Cameron DaSilva, Ramswire. We’ll preview Chiefs-Rams.
  • Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Oilers in peril, Grey Cup week gives us a dynamite rematch.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Stay close to your electronic devices, we might see something.

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Katz_kat

Or is ON in shock?

Katz_kat

I was about to say, I’m surprised there’s no comments about the Hitchcock hire yet. Don’t think it’s going to help :/

wintoon

So Todd is gone and Hitch has arrived. Does anyone see any light yet?

Jaxon

JimmyV1965: MacT was part of the crew that couldn’t draft crap. While it’s not as sexy, it probably did even more damage than anything Chia has done. I’m not a big Chia fan, but at least he recognized the issues with this team and tried to address them. He failed miserably at it, but I’m not even sure MacT and the OBC even understood the deficiencie in the roster. If MacT and the rest of the OBC have any meaningful input into the future of this team, we will never win shit.The one thing Chia can look back on is the players he’s drafted. The new GM will inherit an infinitely better farm system.

In his two drafts, MacT drafted Nurse, Draisaitl, Slepyshev (who should still be an Oiler), Lagesson, Vesel, In other transactions, he turned Paajarvi and Barbashev pick into Perron, which he turned into the pick that could have got Barzal (except Chiarelli turned it into Reinhart) as well as the compensation for hiring TMaC. Acquired Scrivens for a 3rd round pick (Scrivens later traded to acquire Kassian). Signed Bryzgalov, traded him for the pick used to draft Lagesson. He turned Hemsky and Petry into the two picks used to draft Talbot. Jeff Petry trade was also used to draft Caleb Jones. He traded Smid and Roy for Horak and Brossoit. Brossoit currently has a SV% of .959 over 4 games.

I know there was a lot of talk about MacT being responsible for Petry leaving, I may be wrong but I’ve never seen proof of that. Petry was going to be a UFA and may have decided he wanted to test the market no matter what. I’ve never seen proof that MacT screwed up the negotiations. But he did make the best of a player he was about to lose and turned him into the picks that have been used for Talbot and Caleb Jones. He turned a young fringe player (Paajarvi) into Perron who he turned into compensation for TMac and the 1st round pick that could have been used for Barzal and compensation.

MacT was also the one who met with Justin Schultz in Toronto to convince him to come to Edmonton. Schultz started out fairly well, then wasn’t used properly and was traded for the pick that drafted Filip Berglund.

Nikita Nikitin was, perhaps, his worst move. He signed him to a big contract. But it was only 2 years, so it was fairly easy to move past it. Dropping Krueger for Eakins was pretty bad, too, although I think Eakins gets a worse reputation than he deserves. Goaltending went .902 that season. Not sure a team goalie SV% has been as low since.

Also, the best thing MacT did was not mortgage the future to win in 2014-15. If he had done that, then the Oilers wouldn’t have McDavid. He could have traded some picks and young players to improve the team in the present and they would have been okay that season, but their future would not be as bright.

drglen

UnjustEnrichment,

A creative flow game. The russian style

Khaira can be traded

Kassian can be traded

Rattie should not be sitting

Bring up bensen ?

drglen

Mike yeo is avail?

UnjustEnrichment

I think, in assessing players going forward, management needs to put a premium on players who are able to play well WITH other players. Talent is useless unless it can work with other talent to achieve a result. We need players who can skate, pass and interact creatively and effectively on the ice. No more straight up and down types who dump and chase and who cannot give or receive a pass.

drglen

Kinger_Oil.redux,

For sure. Id make the ice bigger

UnjustEnrichment

The Oilers’ management is paralyzed, and while the decision-makers sit there, unable to act, St. Louis will quietly scoop up Quenneville.

Fire McLellan and replace with Quenneville or temporarily with MacT and then hire Todd Nelson as Head Coach for next year.

Fire Chirelli and replace with Keith Gretzky. But the new GM should have an assistant GM who is a contrarian–someone unable to participate in group think.

UnjustEnrichment

godot10,

Lucic is a “dead zone'” on the team, created by the GM. He is stuck there, taking a spot, and ensuring mediocrity or much less than mediocrity. (that said, I give him points for the clean hit on Giordano. But one hit does not earn someone a permanent spot in the line-up or $6 million a year.) How can you build a proper line-up when there is an anchor sinking the ship on one end at all times?

Kinger_Oil.redux

Nailer Yakumoto:
Wow what a football game.

– This is the future for the NHL: might take awhile, but the league will figure out that scoring more = more interest. Might take untill the next commissioner for it to be full-board…

Dicky94

texmex,

Trying to get Quenneville before the Oilers even think about it.

Kraz

Glovjuice: Petterson has a real chance to be 2nd in scoring after McDavid every year moving forward. He has Gretzky like feel for the game.

I agree that he is a special player but right now he is a highly skilled rookie off to a hot start. I think he is most likely a point per game player in this league but that is still a long ways off from what McDavid projects to be.

texmex

Yeo canned in STL after an unacceptable start through 20 games. Hmmm

Jaxon

VOR: Few of the old guard will survive the paradigm shift. The ones that do will find it difficult to innovate and lead in this new paradigm. Now maybe LT and Woodguy are right and Tim Barnes will be the exception. I just don’t like the odds.

That isn’t to denigrate Tim Barnes or the great work he has done. It is just to recognize a fundamental human truth. We all know that change is hard and that massive rapid change is a bitch. Paradigm changes end careers and make what came before irrelevant.

But plus/minus is still the bee’s knees, right?

Professor Q

The worst would be to go on a 5-6 win streak like Buffalo and Toronto, and having the fires die down to smouldering again. Get rid of them both, even while hot in the other sense than seats.

russ99

who: I thought 3×3 was the proper contract.
Can’t see Russell agreeing to sign for 2 million. If you could get him to sign for that I would nominate you for GM.

He was making more than $3M in his previous contract.

What FA takes a pay cut to sign?

Contract not the issue, NMC was.

SwedishPoster

VOR,

What would be your recommended reading with regards to biomechanics in sports? Both as a stand alone subject and in relation to analytics and mathematical models.

--hudson--

VOR,

Wanted to say thanks for the comments on the Philadelphia Eagles earlier. Had no idea on the type of analytics they were doing. I too could see a future where an opponent puts out their 4 skaters on a penalty kill and an AI agent informs the coaching staff on what players to put out and which strategy to employ for a power play.

You could feed the agent data on fatigue for both teams, weaknesses exposed by previous power plays across all teams, strengths of your power play unit, etc. Update your Bayesian priors on how many times the puck has bobbled on Klefbom at the blue line and run thousands of Monte Carlo simulations on your model to decide what to do before the ref puts his arm down.

Interesting information on the non-parametrized statistics you describe. I believe in the world of machine learning we would call that sparse data. Good luck on your recruiting trip!

SwedishPoster

who: I don’t think Lucic skills have declined that much. He has never exhibited good puck skills in his time in Edmonton. And I doubt he showed a lot more skill in LA or Boston.
His declining effectiveness is more a function of how fast and skilled the league has become.
Lucic NEVER had the skill set for this NHL.

Lucic is a very uniqe player to end up as a, once, star in the NHL. That’s why the Oilers attempts to draft the “new Lucic” by grabbing a bunch of rah-rah coke machines was always going to be unfruitful. He never had the usual high end offensive skills to be a productive NHLer, most guys have one or two things that are really high end to give them an edge, but he maximized the things he had incredibly well and combined it with his physical presence to be efficient. What I think has happened now is that his processor was just fast enough for the old NHL and as the pace has gone up his game falls apart as he has no one thing that is a stand out skill he can use to compensate, except physicality which has limited use if the rest isn’t up to par. And once he starts to falter with a big contract and high demands his confidence starts to fade which makes the decline so much steeper. Confidence is a massive deal. Especially if you have to reinvent yourself as a player, which is likely the only way Lucic can salvage something out of the rest of his career.

RonnieB

St. Louis was shut out by LA’s 4th string goalie, then Yeo was fired.
I hope the Oilers aren’t looking at this week’s LA game as the free space on their bingo card.
On the other hand, i think that if the Oilers don’t win at least 2 out of 3 in California McLellan’s ride back to Edmonton will be the last time he is seen on an Oilers charter flight.

JimmyV1965

Professor Q:
JimmyV1965,

I don’t think the impact the stability of a personal farm team in general, and a steady new influx of skilled young players (despite egregious missteps which have caused holes in essential restocking areas via multiple tossed picks), can be for Edmonton can be overstated. This is new for them. The stability and system must develop and grow itself, along with the players.

Agreed. MacT, Lowe and company sewered this team for years. A smart GM can undo the mistakes Chia has made because he will actually have meaningful players coming up from the farm system. I don’t like Chia, but I’m very worried about his replacement. If MacT finds his way into a meaningful position, this team is doomed.

Pescador

Its All About Coaching:
leadfarmer,

Brillant post,
possibly your finest contribution

Professor Q

JimmyV1965,

I don’t think the impact the stability of a personal farm team in general, and a steady new influx of skilled young players (despite egregious missteps which have caused holes in essential restocking areas via multiple tossed picks, and *SHOULD* cost multiple jobs in turn), can be for Edmonton can be overstated. This is new for them. The stability and system must develop and grow itself, along with the players.

JimmyV1965

Glovjuice: Nothing, I repeat, nothing that MacT did as GM even comes close the the damage Chia has done on terms of asset depletion.

MacT was part of the crew that couldn’t draft crap. While it’s not as sexy, it probably did even more damage than anything Chia has done. I’m not a big Chia fan, but at least he recognized the issues with this team and tried to address them. He failed miserably at it, but I’m not even sure MacT and the OBC even understood the deficiencie in the roster. If MacT and the rest of the OBC have any meaningful input into the future of this team, we will never win shit. The one thing Chia can look back on is the players he’s drafted. The new GM will inherit an infinitely better farm system.

JimmyV1965

Ben: So you think the entire league changed over the course of a few games last December, instantly devastating the player’s PTS/60?

I agree. Lucic is slow, but that’s the least of his problems. It’s his stick. He can’t shoot and he can’t make a play. He doesn’t have a plan once the puck is on his stick. I also question this whole pride narrative. Gregor has said on his show multiple times that he has never seen Lucic take extra work before or after practice.

VOR

I didn’t mean to offend our host or Tim Barnes.

I meant to imply that hockey analytics is lagging far, far behind other sports. If the Oilers are going to hire an analytics person they should hire one that is doing innovative work in other more advanced sports using more sophisticated tools than are used in hockey analytics. Now hopefully that person will also have established chops in hockey analytics and some management skills and be an outstanding communicator. Bonus points if they have also been or are serious competitive athletes.

So far I have identified a half dozen possible contenders. All of them women as it happens.

There is a reason why they are all women. Data science and applied mathematics are proving very hospitable work environments for young women. This is proving particularly true in bio modelling.

This is the year of biological mathematics. I bet you didn’t know that. Biological mathematics includes Sports Analytics. So at the dozens of conferences worldwide in honor of the year of Biological Mathematics there nearly always at least part of the conference devoted to sports analytics. Nearly ever major sport is represented by at least one speaker presenting to at least one conference. Most have many speakers at many conferences.

I will give you all one guess which professional sport has none. That would be the same sport that has the fewest published papers in major journals of any professional sport. Year after year after year.

I am admittedly in a bad mood. I feel like crap and in the middle of the night I am getting on a plane to fly to Melbourne, Australia. From Melbourne I am flying to Orleans in France. Then back to Edmonton. All in less than a week.

I am going to Melbourne for the second day of BAM. That is the Biarri Applied Mathematics Conference. And I can’t imagine any reason you would have heard of it.

I am going to hear Jess Tavrou speak. Then we are going out for dinner.

You all know Jess right? The brightest young mind in sports analytics. The elegant algorithms, the TV appearances, the cult following, the cutting edge bio-mechanical research. None of this is ringing any bells is it? Well maybe for some of you, there must be some Aussie Rules fans here.

Jess is the Director of Football Analytics for Carleton Football Club in the AFL. Jess is presenting on the use of algorithms to assist coaches. See that is what Jess does, sits in the room with the coaches and analyses game film and during games talks in their ear providing real time data. That is when she is not appearing on TV providing fans with analytical insights.

Jess has a Master of Football Analytics from Victoria University. Wait, there are sports analytics with with their own graduate programs? Yup. True story. Haven’t heard about the NHL doing that.

When Jess steps up to speak the room will be filled with management people from various professional and amateur sports and from around the globe. I will give you long, long odds there won’t be a single person from the NHL present. Not one. Lord knows we wouldn’t want to know about dumb things like how to use math to improve our understanding of game films and game play.

But I am not in Melbourne because of my interest in algorithms. I am there talk to Jess about the work she is doing on integrating bio-mechanics into sports analytics. Wait, you mean you can actually combine bio-mechanics and analytics? Indeed you can. Jess can you tell you if a player is tiring, if they are playing hurt, and many other useful things from her bio-mechanical analysis and predict what if any effect these things are having on their metrics long before the naked eye can detect anything.

I want Jess’ IP and I want her mind. I am there to recruit her. That is why nobody else can go in my place.

There is very little bio-mechanical work (tip of my hat to the Laval team whose work on skating is ground breaking) being done in or on pro hockey in North America. Most of the work is being done on young kids and college students. That is not true in Europe, particularly Sweden and Germany, which is why I am flying on to Orleans from Melbourne.

Everybody knows what happens in Orleans every November right? Now I am just being sarcastic as hell though the answer is utterly fascinating. Orleans is the meat market where you buy brilliant young mathematicians. And unless you employ mathematicians there is no reason at all you would know that. But sports teams are in the business of employing mathematicians and you might as well recruit the best from around the world, right?

Every year young mathematicians from all over the world summit papers trying to get a chance to present at Orleans. The conference actually has a coordinator to work with all the headhunters who are attending. Student mathematicians start arriving the week before the conference and so do headhunters. Now why haven’t you heard about this conference?

Because until 2012 only female mathematicians were allowed to present and it still skews heavily female. North Americans don’t think women and math go together but that bias is not shared by most of the world. Every industry you can think of will have managers and recruiters at Orleans. That includes sports teams because every year ground breaking new work in the math underlying sports analytics is presented at Orleans. Guess what sport probably won’t be represented at Orleans?

This year what we would call the key note speech is being presented by Sylvie Meleard. Sylvie is probably the world’s leading authority on accounting for luck in mathematical models. She is a very serious academic but has quite a number of sports, leagues, and teams as consulting clients. Not to mention some very large book making operations.

I am there to meet a group of young German scientists and mathematicians who have been working on a project with the DHLE to integrate real time bio metrics, bio-mechanics, and analytics in sports management. I assume at some point NHL teams will be knocking down their doors and offering them the sun the moon and the stars. But they assure me I am the first person from North America to express any interest.

Years ago I posted here repeatedly that the future was sports tracking. I can’t say I found many supporters. Now I am here to tell you that the future is bio-mathematics.

The immediate future will see the integration of biology, physiology, bio-mechanics, psychology, neurology, and kinesiology with analytics to create real time advice for coaches in all sports. The amount of data is going to be unimaginably huge and impossibly tiny and specific and most of it won’t come from the game play itself but rather from the athletes playing the game. And your coach will only be as good as the algo-runner whispering in their ear. I will go a step further and predict the majority of those algorithm analyzing coach whispering bio-mathematicians will be women.

The very math of sports analytics is about to change. Parametric statistics (the kind you grew up with and know) will at best be subservient to non-Parametric statistics. This is because the minute you move to giant data that has to be analyzed very quickly the first and most important task will be smoothing the data. Every bio-mathematician and modeler knows this. It is the first task of what we call AFDA, Applied Functional Data Analysis.

Smoothing techniques like Base Spline Regressions and penalized P splines are non-Parametric. In essence a non-Parametric statistic trades certainty for insight. You may miss stuff in a non-Parametric analysis but what you see is true if not exact.

The easy way to understand this is to say that linear regressions and similar parametric tools give you a way to test relationships between variables but produce a remarkable number of false positives. These tools work only when the tested variable has a normal or predictable distribution. Huge data sets with many variables, that is a high degree of dimensions typically do not present as normal or predictable distributions. Small data classically lacks the information required to identify distribution. Non-Parametric statistical tools let you analyze huge data and tiny data where parametric methods fail.

So the future belongs to insight without certainty. The best hockey analytics people of the future will be those that can run non-Parametric tests see the insights, including those hidden from most, translate those into algorithms that predict on ice behavior and communicate that information simply to the coaches. And do all that in real time.

I want my head of analytics to already be working in the new paradigm. I would propose the ability to do AFDA as the minimum competency every candidate must possess. This limits your search considerably. And because there is no known AFDAs being published or presented by anybody in hockey (Journals, Sloan-MIT, etc.) it pretty much eliminates anybody who hasn’t worked in sports analytics outside hockey. If anyone knows of AFDAs being done in hockey please share – I am working on one and think it will be the first – that is the one that comes out of Georges challenging me to show him the curve in CF vs GF.

This brings me back to where I started. Five years from now, when everybody here can read an AFDA and understand it (they are highly visual) and quite a few of us can do one (the tools are already mostly available in Matlab and R and more and more in Excel) we will be ruing the day the Oilers didn’t get somebody who was out there pushing the boundaries of AFDA. In that future world we will look at the possession metrics generation as hopelessly out of touch and what is currently state of the art hockey analytics as quaint anachronisms.

Few of the old guard will survive the paradigm shift. The ones that do will find it difficult to innovate and lead in this new paradigm. Now maybe LT and Woodguy are right and Tim Barnes will be the exception. I just don’t like the odds.

That isn’t to denigrate Tim Barnes or the great work he has done. It is just to recognize a fundamental human truth. We all know that change is hard and that massive rapid change is a bitch. Paradigm changes end careers and make what came before irrelevant.

Professor Q

Glovjuice: Petterson has a real chance to be 2nd in scoring after McDavid every year moving forward. He has Gretzky like feel for the game.

Pettersson and Rantanen are unreal. Two young talents that are simply sublime. MacKinnon, Marner, and Tkachuk aren’t that old, either.

oilersfan

Nick Shore is playing in the KHL. Are the oilers allowed to sign him?

Or do we have to wait until the khl season is over?

Material Elvis

drglen:
GMB3,

no not at all.Hey played a hunch that lucic was ‘on’… and besides he didn’t expect lucic to score the goal.. just screen and occupy. He knows he hasn’t score and knows he doesn’t handle the puck well. I’m sure he was told ‘just go stand in front’… period… but we couldn’t get the zone. My point is, and then I’ll leave it ( and should have ) is that the Calgary loss was a roster loss from lack of puck moving D man. Doesn’t matter who’s on Connors line if they can’t even geta good breakout through the neurtral zone.

Coach made a move that didn’t work out, which is different than not making any moves.

I do blame coach for not taking a time out ,,, which is tougher to do than it sounds because you admit your getting the shit kicked out of you.. its a concession to take a timeout in the NHL.. . but he still should have done that.

The coach did not make the correct in-game adjustments that the team required to be successful against Calgary.

GMB3

Caleb Jones and William Lagesson are off to wonderful starts in the AHL this season.

Material Elvis

Glovjuice: Sounds like you were putting those kids in harms way.Wasn’t it your responsibility to stand up and push back to the powers that be in the interest of safety for minors.

Typical modern day response to a cultural norm that took place 20 years ago. Keep wagging that finger!

Its All About Coaching
flea

oilersfan,

I remember reading upshall had knee surgery.

I feel if the Oilers win tomorrow, they could potentially sweep this roadie. Tomorrow is the tough one. They’ve done some ok things in the last couple games. Just need to put a complete game together. Everyone needs to stop trying to play like McDavid and just play their game.

Think the Sharks will be motivated to potentially get their old coach fired AGAIN from his new team?

They’re gonna come out like demons…

Let’s hope the Oilers bring a similar intensity.

Glovjuice

frjohnk:
Watching Jets and Canucks.

Jets are loaded up front. My pick in the west.

Pettersson might be top 10 most skilled player in the league right now.

Petterson has a real chance to be 2nd in scoring after McDavid every year moving forward. He has Gretzky like feel for the game.

franksterra

Yeo out in St Lou.

oilersfan

What happened to Scottie Upshall? With the injury to Rieder and with KY and Jesse in the minors can he do his PTO now? Has his knee healed? Anybody know?

Or Jason Chimera?

Would have preferred to keep Strome and try one of those guys than bring in Patrick O SullivAn part two

Nailer Yakumoto

Wow what a football game.

Glovjuice

CrazyCoach:
I’m surprised there is not word from the upper echelons of Oilers management today.Is there a huddle going on or is Katz hiring a group of indiscriminate people dressed in black suits to clean out the entire front office tomorrow?

I feel for TMAc, I really do.As a member of the coaching fraternity, getting released is not easy.It’s never happened to me personally, but I have been in the position he is in right now.Almost 20 years ago, the association I coached for, in its finite wisdom, decided that the best way to get kids ready for their second year in bantam and more importantly, the WHL draft, was to ice a team of primarily 1st year bantams (cap of 5 2nd year kids) and call it a Bantam “minor” team as opposed to the “Major” team.Forget all the research on growth and development and Long Term Athlete Development and let’s go for a strategy drawn up on a napkin.Good theory, but the reality was we were listed as a “AAA” team with “AA” talent at best with kids who weren’t quite there due to many maturation calendars.We got hammered all season long and I do believe we once tied another team in our league, but the rest was lopsided victories.It was hard to play well, because we simply didn’t have the talent, and no AA teams were going to allow us into their tourneys.Two did and I believe we placed third in both.As an aside, I remember playing KofC out of Edmonton and this kid named Shawn Belle totally decimated us physically.

Anyway, after a long season, we went to play in the Abbottsford Intl. tourney where we got smoked and thoroughly injured.I couldn’t wait for the season to end, but my girlfriend at the time, who knew her hockey kept telling me I simply didn’t have the talent to compete and that I should just keep it positive for the kids and help them develop.It was a tough year trying to make diamonds out of horse crap.

But, on the other hand, I once inherited a team that was 2-5 in a 16 game season (university) then took them on a 9 game winning streak which saw us lose the final 2 games to 1.Nothing changed really.Same players, but I was more of a tactician than an authoritarian and I simply let the boys play and play they did.

Sometimes, a breath of fresh air is needed, and it’s nothing personal between coaches.

Just my two cents

Sounds like you were putting those kids in harms way. Wasn’t it your responsibility to stand up and push back to the powers that be in the interest of safety for minors.

who

Ben: So you think the entire league changed over the course of a few games last December, instantly devastating the player’s PTS/60?

No, but I think the league has changed a lot in the last 5 years.
Don’t be fooled by small spurts of point production. Lucic has had trouble making and taking a pass since he got to Edmonton.
I said he wasn’t very good in his first year here and I stand by it. Banging home a few points on the powerplay didn’t change my opinion. I didn’t see how anyone could watch him play over an 80 game season, even the 53 point one, and call him a good hockey player.

Glovjuice

Woodguy v2.0: I’m a lot like McLellan in that I don’t trust rookies at all.

Most take a while to learn the NHL.

Heiskinen and Petterson are unreal out of the box (neither saw the NHL in their draft +1 year)

Dahlen is killing it too, but everyone expected that (he’s getting 2nd pair minutes now, but that will change)

All 3 are high high end skaters too.

Not a coincidence.

That’s why Bouchard will take a while to stop leaking 5v5.

Bouchard was a risk at 10 due to skating but they still took him. Unnecessary.

Ben

oilersfan,

This is great, thanks.

oilersfan

I once saw an interview with Gretzky where he said that john muckler told him “it isn’t
Your legs that go first, it’s the hands and the eye-hand coordination”

Gretzky said that as he got into his 30’s that’s what he found, before he slowed down materially he couldn’t do things with his hands that his mind and body told him he could do and that he had done before. This stuck with me as I Think this interview was shortly after he retired.

It appears to me that this is what happened to lucic, it isn’t his speed that is his problem it’s his hands. He needs to work on his puck skills for hours each day instead of whatever he is doing just to stop his current meager skills from eroding even further.

Truthfully the best place for him is either in the press box as a sunk cost or on the fourth line far away from the PP the Pk and the 6×5

It was a terrible contract but for now it is just a sunk cost unless another compliance buyout comes along

Bank Shot

Glovjuice: Nothing, I repeat, nothing that MacT did as GM even comes close the the damage Chia has done on terms of asset depletion.

That’s only because MacT basically did nothing besides bleed away picks.

Every acquisition he made was a failure.

Throwing Dubnyk under the bus before his last season in Edmonton was a great move. He also kicked Petry to the curb while showering praise on Schultz.

Just terrible work from start to finish. There’s no reason for him to still be in an important position on an NHL hockey club, but here we are.

I think he’s a nice guy though.

Glovjuice

Buddy:
After four epically incompetent GMs in a row, I rather fear that the real problem is the guy doing the hiring. And how on earth are you going to solve that problem?

A couple thoughts on Katz.

(1) Since he took over the Oilers, Katz has paid a lot of players and coaches an awful lot of money to not play for and not coach the Edmonton Oilers. The fun of that experience might just be fading. Which means maybe he does nothing now. Sacking McLellan and Chiarelli is the equivalent of a multimillion dollar bonfire.

(2) Whatever the reason was for Katz moving out the OBC just a couple days after winning the McDavid lottery, I think it must have been some form of outside pressure, and that Katz bowed to it very reluctantly. Which would explain why he moved them sideways, rather than out the door. So I suspect he might be very resentful about the whole thing, and wishes that he’d just stuck with the guys who know a lot about winning, rather than having had Chiarelli imposed on him from outside. Just a guess, to be sure. But as for what replaces Chiarelli, don’t be afraid — be very, very afraid.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing that MacT did as GM even comes close the the damage Chia has done on terms of asset depletion.

Glovjuice

godot10: I’m pretty certain that Chara signed in Boston because he knew Chiarelli was going there.Do you think that Chara and Chiarelli never talked in Ottawa?

Chara didn’t give anyone a number, not Ottawa, not Edmonton, because he wasn’t going anywhere but Boston.

Gorton is currently the GM of the Rangers…the guy who just traded a worse turd of a Ryan for the Oilers’s turd of a Ryan. To be worse than Strome is pretty hard to do, but Spooner seems to have it covered.But I will give him a few more weeks grace to change my blink evaluation.

I’ll save you two weeks. Spooner is awful. Terrible trade (and I’m no Strome booster-but still didn’t get caved every dam shift like Spooner will) / awful, terrible, horrendous trade.

Glovjuice

Bag of Pucks:
Driving to work this morning, listening to Rishaug reluctantly sharpening the axe for Maclellan, I was trying to think of a silver lining to this mess. And I landed on Denis Potvin.

Potvin was drafted 1OV in 1973 by an absolutely brutal hockey team. Unlike VGK, the Islanders inaugural season as an expansion team brought them 12 wins over a 78 game schedule with a goal differential of -177.

For crawling through 500 yards of shit that season, Islanders fans were rewarded with Denis Potvin and he was a true generational talent you could build a Cup dynasty upon. He’s rarely thought of that way these days because he followed so closely on the heels of Bobby Orr and everyone suffers by that comparison, but the kid from Vanier could dominate a game from the back end like the very best who ever played. It was nigh impossible to score when he was on the ice and if you were foolhardy enough to take a penalty against those teams, he was absolutely lethal as a PP QB.Closest comparable is probably Nik Lidstrom. Kids, he was that good.

And yet, despite drafting this absolute horse in 73 and the stellar run at the draft table that followed and brought in the likes of Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies, it still took that extremely well managed team a full 7 years more before they won their first Stanley Cup. And as we all know, they won 4 in a row and challenged for their 5th a full 14 years after Potvin was drafted.

So what’s the moral of the story? Connor still has time. This team still has time. No, this current rebuild to quote Marseulls Wallace has been ‘pretty fucking far from ok” but just like the Islanders team in 73, this Oilers franchise was still in a horrible state when Connor McDavid arrived. Draft and development processes were fundamentally broken and this once proud franchise had tanked for high draft picks so often and so obviously, they had frankly become a league embarrassment.

The fact we’re talking about firing the HC today is actually progress from that DoD time because it’s acknowledgement that mediocrity (1 game below .500) is no longer acceptable for this franchise. Results matter.

Chiarelli did not hire Todd MacLellan. He signed off on his hire prior to taking the job. There’s a big difference between those two things. He deserves to get a shot with his guy. Can you imagine if the right coach can find a way to effectively use Lucic again? He could be the Bob Nystrom in this tale. Imagine if Tyler Benson, after everything he’s gone through, finally makes the dance and plays like that kid that was granted exceptional status. He could become the Mike Bossy in this story. Stranger things have happened. Leon? Bryan Trottier of course.

Like Potvin, it’s Connor McDavid’s destiny to win Cups. But he needs his Al Arbour behind the bench. We may be a step closer to that today than we were yesterday. That’s a silver lining.

ok then – yikes

digger50

Gerta Rauss: I think there was an indirect announcement when Stauffer tweeted “wheels up”

The team plane was in the air and TMac was on it

I think he’s still on the clock, and I’d guess the Oilers would rather do the deed while on the road anyway

To me, that was a signal to the Lowtide world.

There was a poster here yesterday who mentioned something about “wheels up” would indicate Tmac was on board. I believe Bob is saying hello.

digger50

drglen:
Woodguy v2.0,

He has good accelleration and good instincts.A conversion would have been nice

But as someone who wanted strome traded. We suffered defensively and we should have kept him. He didnt deserve to be trsded per se. But i had hoped hed be bundled with 2 or 3 players for a high level d man

A creative trade. We do t have enoughvalue so we bundle.

That is simply out of Peters abilities ties, it really is.

I’m sick of his work.

We needed scoring wingers , we also need to keep what we have. Keep Strome and you had Lontus. That kid will outs ore Spooner. We need to keep adding incrementally.

Petercannot do it.

Scungilli Slushy

Bank Shot: Scott Gomez was absolutely a fast skater and he retained that speed even after his scoring touch left him.

Its subjective of course but if you search old Gomez articles on the webz you will see lots of mentions about his superior skating.

I agree Lucic isn’t rebounding. No one rebounds in Edmonton.
They just spiral downwards. Its an Edmonton thing.

IIRC Gomez was discussed here lots and was a black hole statswise, and was one of the later hosings by Sather in getting McDonaugh. He was about 30 when Slats robbed the Canadiens. Maybe there was some backstory we don’t know but he dropped fast a season after joining the Habs. Slats had that sense often enough.