Friday, August 8, 2014

Signs you've hired a bad advanced stats guy

Needs sharpening.

The NHL’s summer of analytics continued this week, with the Edmonton Oilers becoming the latest in a long line of teams to add an advanced stats expert to their staff.

High-profile stats guys like Eric Tulsky, Tyler Dellow and Sunny Mehta have all been hired in recent months, with even the notoriously old-school Maple Leafs finally jumping on the bandwagon. And that’s just the hirings that have been made public – that there have reportedly been plenty more that have gone on behind-the-scenes. We’re suddenly in the middle of an all-out stats hiring frenzy, and if you’re an NHL team and that hasn’t hired an analytics guy lately, you’re feeling the pressure to catch up.

Of course, that has the potential to create some problems, since there are only so many elite hockey minds to go around. With a shrinking supply of truly qualified experts left, some teams that are scrambling to fill out their analytics department could end up hiring the wrong candidate.

That would be a shame, so I’m here to help. If you’re an NHL executive who’s recently brought on a brand new stats guru, here are some signs that you may have made a hiring mistake.

  • No matter which player’s data you plug into his top secret proprietary formula, the result always just spells out BOOBIES on his calculator.

  • He keeps making rudimentary and obvious errors, like relying on +/- or failing to consider quality of competition or giving $30 million to Andrew MacDonald.

  • He designed a fancy database to crunch the numbers on every major trade made by any NHL team over the past few years, but it keeps crashing whenever it gets to Winnipeg because it can’t divide by zero.

  • He instinctively screams “GOOD GOD WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT???” every time he sees the number three.

  • It turns out that when his resume said he spent extensive time scouting with Kyle Dubas from 2010 to 2012, he was referring to the cub scouts.

  • He tried to illustrate one of the tenets of basic probability to your coaching staff by explaining that the coin has no memory, and now everyone’s busy trying to figure out how to pressure a coin into faking its way through the concussion testing protocol.

  • He’s so dumb, he can’t even tell you what PDO stands for.

  • He only showed up for work the week before free agency, was always droning on about the value of character and grit, and now that you think about it looked an awful lot like Dave Bolland’s agent wearing a fake mustache.

  • When you jokingly ask him where his pocket protector is, he replies “Nobody I know has used a pen since 1993, but cutting-edge reference there, grandpa.”

  • He and his math geek friends just sit around all day trying to solve Zeno's dichotomy paradox by watching old game film of Douglas Murray skating.

  • Every time he tries to type the word “analytics”, he gets four letters in and then starts giggling so hard he has an asthma attack.

  • He adamantly refuses to produce any predictions for the 2014-15 regular season that don’t involve the Colorado Avalanche being relegated to the ECHL.

  • The most common phrase that comes up when you ask people to describe him is “Tyler Dellow without the charm”.

  • When you accidentally make a reference to “CORSI” in an email, he immediately sprints to your office to breathlessly inform you that it’s actually spelled “Corsi”, instead of calmly shooting you in both kneecaps the way a real stats guru would.


  1. Welp, full points for the first-ever Zeno's paradox reference on a hockey blog. So far as I'm aware, that is. I haven't, y'know, checked.

  2. I'm familiar with Zeno's paradox, but I misread and started wondering what Zdeno's paradox is.

    1. Oh god, I did too... thought I'd be the only one.

    2. Zdeno's Paradox is about a tortoise standing on two legs who falls to the ice in half increments while trying to block a Toews pass but can't ever reach it before a Bickell goal.

  3. "He keeps making rudimentary and obvious errors, like relying on +/- or failing to consider quality of competition or giving $30 million to Andrew MacDonald."


    1. As a guy who kinda likes the Flyers, that one stung. Hard.

    2. Stung because of the reminder, but I still laughed out loud.

  4. If Zdeno wants to lift Bryan 5 feet off the ground, he must first lift him 2.5 feet of the ground, and must first lift him 1.75 feet off the ground, and before that .875 feet off the groudn, but not before first lifting him .4375 feet of the ground, and so on...

    This creates an infinite regression and results in a 5 minute major penalty that can never be completely served.

  5. Pocket protector? As in, John Scott AND Mike Brown?

    1. Sadly yes, says disgruntled Sharks season ticket holder

  6. Jets fans appreciate the token reference, makes us feel at home with token (waiver-wire) pick-ups filling space in columns (line-ups).