SBD/August 20, 2014/Franchises

Maple Leafs Set To Form Analytics Department, With ExtraSkater's Metcalf Among Hires

Hockey analytics site ExtraSkater.com Founder Darryl Metcalf "is one of three advanced stats analysts that are in the process of joining" the Maple Leafs to "work in newly created positions dedicated to hockey metrics," according to sources cited by Greg Wyshynski of YAHOO SPORTS. Cam Charron, a blogger that "most recently worked with Yahoo Sports Canada, is among that group, as is Rob Pettapiece, a blogger who worked with Yahoo Sports' Buzzing The Net junior hockey blog." However, the hiring of Metcalf "would be a coup for the Leafs." Not only is his site "one of the most respected in the hockey world, it’s also one of the most popular" for other NHL teams (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/19). In Toronto, Lance Hornby notes Charron's work "was based with fan site theleafsnation.com, which often features biting commentary about how the team conducts itself at large." Purists "will insist hockey moves too fast with too little puck possession to truly measure a player or team, or that bad ice, lively boards and other variables render the data less useful" (TORONTO SUN, 8/20).

ANALYZE THIS: The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle writes, "Almost overnight, the Leafs will go from one of the league’s least progressive teams in this area to one of the most, dedicating considerable time and energy to numbers-based analysis of the team’s roster, acquisitions and style of play." How that will mesh with the "more old-school staff -- led by head coach Randy Carlyle -- and how it will affect the team’s fortunes on the ice will be a storyline to follow all season" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/20). The NATIONAL POST's Michael Traikos writes, "Call it Moneypuck or the Summer of Analytics. Whatever it is, the National Hockey League is changing." This summer "has already been a big one for the stats-based movement," as the Oilers hired lawyer-turned-analytics pioneer Tyler Dellow (author of the MC79hockey blog), the Devils hired former pro poker player and amateur statistician Sunny Mehta, while an undisclosed team "hired former Harvard graduate and SB Nation writer Eric Tulsky." But it is the Leafs who "are making the boldest play by compiling what is being described as an all-star analytics department" (NATIONAL POST, 8/20).
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