Thursday, August 31, 2023

10 things I learned while wasting way too much time with a fun new research tool

Have you been enjoying the Immaculate Grid craze? It started with baseball, spawned imitations in other sports, and has since been bought and consolidated by the wonderful folks over at Sports Reference.

If you’re a hockey fan, you’ve probably been playing Puckdoku, an NHL version that was inspired by the original baseball version. But the official version at hockey-reference is fun too, and it’s led to an important development you may have missed: The site finally launched a “Find Players Who Played for Various Franchises” tool.

OK, the name is a little wordy, I’ll give you that. But the concept is gold for hockey nerds. It’s just a simple search tool that lets you input any combination of teams and then find out which players appeared in at least one game for all of them. Want to know how many guys have played for two rivals, or some combination of Original Six teams, or any two random teams you might think of? Now you can find out. I encourage you to give it a try.

It's a great way to waste company time when you’re supposed to be working. Or if you’re lucky, you have a job where you can realize that you can turn what you’ve learned into a summer article. Today, I’m going to take you through 10 interesting things I learned while wasting way too much time playing with the Various Franchises tool.

1. No player in NHL history has played for all three California teams

I’m going to start with this one, because it stunned me. I get that there’s a rivalry between the three current California teams – RIP Golden Seals – and that it’s been heated at times. I wouldn’t expect there to be a ton of players who’ve suited up for all three teams. But none? Not one guy in the 30 years since the Ducks completed the trio? That’s hard to believe.

But it’s true. There have been 98 players who’ve appeared for two of the three teams, including big names like Teemu Selanne, Rob Blake, Jari Kurri and Jeremy Roenick. But all three? The database says: Nobody.

For comparison, there have been 12 players who’ve played for all three New York-area teams, all but two of them since the Ducks arrived in 1993. Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa have had three. The old Detroit/Chicago/St. Louis rivalry from the Norris days has 14, including Glenn Hall. But California? Not an option, apparently.

Speaking of rivalries…

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