So apparently it’s time for the hockey world to fight about advanced stats again.
The most recent outbreak of hostilities was focused (as these things have a disturbing tendency to be) on the Toronto Maple Leafs. First it was forward Joffrey Lupul tweeting about Corsi. Next up was assistant coach Greg Cronin sharing his views on possession stats. If you missed out on those particular skirmishes, don’t worry. Another one should be along any minute now.
If you’re an old-school type who doesn’t like advanced stats, you’re well, you’re not reading this, because you instinctively slammed your face into your browser’s “close” button as soon as you saw the headline. And if you’re already an advanced stats proponent, you don’t have time to read this because you’re already busy fighting a civil war over what the various stats should even be called.
So that leaves the fans who haven’t chosen a side yet. And in many cases, those who still find themselves on neutral ground might be there because they don’t actually understand what the whole debate is about in the first place.
If you’re interested in learning more about advanced statistics but aren’t sure where to start, there are plenty of good resources available. Eyes on the Prize is running an ongoing summer school feature that will walk through some of the basic concepts. Broad Street Hockey has a basic glossary of terms, and Behind the Net has a more detailed one. Arctic Ice did a whole “Understanding Advanced Stats” section a few years back that has a ton of good stuff. And those are just a few examples. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves a bit, you can educate yourself fairly quickly.
But what if you’re not interesting in learning more? What if you just want to seem like you did? What if you’d rather know just enough to fake your way through a conversation about advanced stats, while doing as little actual thinking as possible?
If so, I may be able to help you out. Let’s see if we can make our way through this together, with my handy 12-step program for faking your way through the world of advanced hockey statistics.