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habs_93

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We've been having this discussion in dribs and drabs in various threads (Check out the last few pages of Bergevin's thread, and the Leafs thread here), and I figured it might be good to have a unified place for it. I think it's appropriate to combine discussion of the press with league-wide management personnel, because there's a very tight relationship between the two.

There was quite the brouhaha in Edmonton earlier in the season about Kevin Lowe separating Oilers fans and their importance to the organization by their ticket purchasing habits ( http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2013/04/17/kevin_lowe_edmonton_oilers_president_says_sorry_as_city_mocks_tier_1_tier_2_fan_rankings.html ). The meaning, of course, of Lowe's words was the same stale first-line calumny the hockey establishment uses when anyone but their old buddies dares to criticize them: "People that don't like us are obviously socially divorced malcontents", or the Cheeto-binged bloggers should be ignored out of hand. Not far behind is "they didn't play the game", and then "well, we're the professionals". This is "I'm rubber and you're glue" schoolyard-caliber stuff. And despite being patently fallacious, it's usually enough to shut the Ron MacLeans, James Duthies, and Mike Johnsons of the world up and move them onto more friendly softball questions. I don't particularly blame these people for wanting to ply their trade in the sport, because a lot of them don't have anything else to fall back on. But their positions make them public figures, and public figures are not free of accountability for their performance.

This is particularly important at the moment. Observe with joy as the Maple Leafs sink into irrelevance and failure, in no small part due to their backward front office and its hubris-drenched misadventures in the offseason. These moves were praised by the mainstream hockey media, or at least the ones that have the distribution. Expectations soared. Noob616 brought up something critical in the Toronto thread ( http://fans.canadiens.nhl.com/community/topic/27556-toronto-maple-leafs-2013-2014/?p=2274617 ):

It really is just hilarious. There's a huge blogosphere covering the Leafs, and tons of very bright hockey minds doing great work breaking down the team and the offseason decisions Nonis made for free. These decisions were all universally panned by the bloggers who value possession and a quantitative approach...

...There were tons of people who produced mountains of evidence over the summer showing this for free, but the Leafs' front office and their 6 figure salaries couldn't figure out that grit and fights aren't worth a 7 year contract...

And he's right: people that weren't making their living off networking with the NHL set (or at least, ones not beholden to relationships and quid pro quo) rang the warning bells before the first puck dropped. They turned out to be right, and not by luck. Whether or not team sports in general and hockey in specific can be analytically broken down and quantified completely is an open argument and a topic for another thread (This one, to be precise: http://fans.canadiens.nhl.com/community/topic/27427-the-great-stat-discussion/ ). But what isn't as subjective is the fact that the hockey analytics community has produced knowledge that lets us utilize game data with a measure of predictive validity, and some of the conclusions derived from their work goes against treasured sacred cows in the hierarchy of the sport.

Just as similar effort was put down and ignored for decades in baseball, it's happening here. Perhaps with good reason: If a ballplayer in high school or a hockey prospect in the Q can be better assessed through mathematics than "eyeball measurements" of "grit" and such, there's an awful lot of guys who spent more time nursing injuries than studying in algebra class whose value to their sport may take a precipitous decline. That's a shame. But you can't put the analytics genie back in the bottle, and the attempts to do so will continue to appear as petty and reactionary as they have in the past. This kind of stuff is reinforced by the vile bottom-feeding columnist fraternity, helmed by notable retrograde contrarian rogues Damien Cox and Bruce Garrioch. Even though the vast majority of hockey fans lend zero credibility to their words, there are still unfortunate individuals who take them seriously. It's certainly within their rights to hold uninformed opinions, but the golden mean fallacy ( http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/middle-ground.html ) has no place here. In a battle between evidence and traditional supposition, evidence has more weight even if it's pointing in uncomfortable directions.

Every professional sport's press is filled with ex-players. It's universal across the world and its sports. Limiting the scope to the familiarity of North America, though, one can see a very clear difference in how things are done in the different major leagues. There are some real "characters" working national NBA, MLB, and NFL broadcasts here, but there's a particular suspension of dross that is given air time to promote decades-outdated anti-intellectualism and antisocial violence fantasies during hockey games. Part of the problem across all the sports, I think, is that the types who end up on TV are generally the lower-end players. A lot of the time they stayed in their leagues as long as they did because sports people overrate intangibles, "character", and physical play in contact sports, and they're doing their best to perpetuate the cycle. These are the people, for better or worse, who author our lexicon and collective perceptions as sports fans. So, if you're interested in looking at things in a comprehensive and unbiased (as much as possible) manner, an effort has to be made to carefully examine your understanding of the game. Even deeply held ideas that are the most basic of "common sense" can't be given a free pass. Nor can words, no matter how reflexively they're used.

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I'm sure this thread will be in full swing come playoff time. That's when grandiose storylines and melodrama really get blown out of proportion.

I really don't have anything new to say at the moment, but with playoffs come the World Championships for those who care (read: the entire world except for North America, for reasons I'll get into), and I just can't wait for everyone who said naively that our B team could compete for Olympic gold will fail to bring anything home after going against everyone else's B teams. I think the fact that North America "doesn't care" is just a facade put up by the hockey establishment and media in order to put off the realization that, while hockey is Canada's game and Canada is a hockey nation, Canada is not hockey's only nation and, simply put, our failure to bring back gold year after year is too sobering, so we pretend only the Olympics matter.

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I'm sure this thread will be in full swing come playoff time. That's when grandiose storylines and melodrama really get blown out of proportion.

Yeah. I've read no less than five articles similar in tone to my post in the last day or two, so apparently the hockey nerd hive mind is particularly inflamed these days. :lol:

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Prepare yourselves for breathtakingly insightful incoming narratives:

"The Habs are struggling because they're too small."

"PK Subban isn't a team player" or some other type of cretinous smear with thinly-veiled racist tones.

"They're just regressing, and weren't any good anyway."

and "Carey Price can't win big games" just for good measure.

Maybe Mirtle will have the backbone to call it as it is—Exhibit B in the trial of Traditional Hockey gut feelings v. Empirical Evidence & Analytics. Other than him, I don't think anyone else will. Michel Therrien's anti-possession system of gradual failure (indistinguishable from Randy Carlyle's, in practice) and Marc Bergevin's backward view of the game and contract management in today's NHL have destroyed any chance this team has of succeeding this year, and probably in the next few. Both of their seats at l'Antichambre are waiting for them.

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Guest mrsmarkov

Prepare yourselves for breathtakingly insightful incoming narratives:

"The Habs are struggling because they're too small."

"PK Subban isn't a team player" or some other type of cretinous smear with thinly-veiled racist tones.

"They're just regressing, and weren't any good anyway."

and "Carey Price can't win big games" just for good measure.

Maybe Mirtle will have the backbone to call it as it is—Exhibit B in the trial of Traditional Hockey gut feelings v. Empirical Evidence & Analytics. Other than him, I don't think anyone else will. Michel Therrien's anti-possession system of gradual failure (indistinguishable from Randy Carlyle's, in practice) and Marc Bergevin's backward view of the game and contract management in today's NHL have destroyed any chance this team has of succeeding this year, and probably in the next few. Both of their seats at l'Antichambre are waiting for them.

Really now? I'm not even going to pay any mind to this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not going to link any articles here, mostly becuase they get pretty profane, especially in comments sections, but the media reaction, especially around Boston, to the Lucic Spear Part Deux (Part Trois coming to a theater near you :ph34r: ) are pretty outrageous.

One reporter said that "the ends justifies the means" and another (female) one only raged about the fact that guys rage about how sensitive our parts are.

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I'm not going to link any articles here, mostly becuase they get pretty profane, especially in comments sections, but the media reaction, especially around Boston, to the Lucic Spear Part Deux (Part Trois coming to a theater near you :ph34r: ) are pretty outrageous.

One reporter said that "the ends justifies the means" and another (female) one only raged about the fact that guys rage about how sensitive our parts are.

I read both the Globe and Herald on their take and some of the comments were surprising. There was another "scribe" (term used loosely), that pretty much said that it was "playoff hockey". He was roasted in the comments.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not a negative word about the Bruins' celebrations in Game 1. Particularly noteworthy is the total silence about Krug, a rookie. Y'know, I can't begin to imagine why, but it sure seems like Krug is getting significantly different treatment than Subban had during his rookie season.

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Not a negative word about the Bruins' celebrations in Game 1. Particularly noteworthy is the total silence about Krug, a rookie. Y'know, I can't begin to imagine why, but it sure seems like Krug is getting significantly different treatment than Subban had during his rookie season.

Boychuk was especially comical, with his "pistols". But hey, hockey's not racist. That's a foolish thing to say.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Check out this article (link) on the Kings and analytics...

Me reading the first 3 paragraphs:

Wow, is this going to an honest article, with at least only a little overblown cliches, about analytics and predicting success in the NHL, on it's main website? I'm so excited!

Me reading the rest of the article:

lol NOPE

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Check out this article (link) on the Kings and analytics...

Me reading the first 3 paragraphs:

Wow, is this going to an honest article, with at least only a little overblown cliches, about analytics and predicting success in the NHL, on it's main website? I'm so excited!

Me reading the rest of the article:

lol NOPE

Yeah, wow. Putting the first and last sentences together really makes it:

For three years now the Los Angeles Kings have been the best example of why analytics matter in the NHL.

Some of it probably is intangibles. The Kings, like the Blackhawks, are well-stocked in that department too.

So, analytics matter because... they don't actually matter, if the intangibles are strong enough. Got it.

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Is there a reason lots of people seem to think we're the biggest divers in the league? Is it just biased media making people think that or is there any actual evidence? I'm thinking former, and it's frustrating since there is a lot of people who seem to believe it.

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