SBD/August 12, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Analytics Gaining Steam In NHL As Clubs Delve Deeper Into Advanced Statistics

The NHL in the future will "hinge -- and change -- upon the explosion of hockey intelligence," and is in the middle of an "IQ transformation," according to Fluto Shinzawa of the BOSTON GLOBE. The "figurative data asteroid is expected to strike the NHL" in '15-16. By then, the league could "introduce player motion tracking via SportVU," which has a league-wide deal with the NBA. Assuming the NHL "welcomes player tracking, everything will be automated." The result will "be clean, dependable data: a statistician's dream," and smart people "currently on the sidelines will sprint into the market." The Oilers recently hired hockey blogger and statistician Tyler Dellow "as a statistical consultant," while the Devils named former professional poker player Sunny Mehta Dir of Hockey Analytics. Harvard chemistry grad Eric Tulsky and West Point mathematical sciences professor Brian Macdonald also are "consulting for undisclosed clubs." They are "studying hockey’s granular events -- odd-man rushes, zone entries, shots taken early and late in a shift -- and uncovering information that complements intelligence gathered by traditional scouting." But going the analytics route will "require courage," as it runs "counter to generations of hockey tradition" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/11). GRANTLAND's Sean McIndoe wrote it is "rare to go a week without hearing about yet another team staking out its territory in the world of advanced stats, or revealing that it has been there all along." But it "wasn’t hard to see this coming ... since the whole process has already played out in virtually every other major team sport." Many fans "have found that getting their heads around analytics helps them understand the game better and makes the whole thing more fun, but some fans prefer not to get into that level of detail" (GRANTLAND.com, 8/11).
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