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The PTSE Role Of Analytics Panel 2013- As Told By Twitter

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Today, Prime Time Sports & Entertainment held a "Role Of Analytics" panel debate in Toronto which featured a somewhat controversial line-up (more on that later) and basically unfolded in real time in my Twitter feed, so here is the story of what happened re-told through the best Tweets of the day...

I'm sure glad that the Wild's decision makers aren't stuck in the 1970's the way the Leafs brass seemingly is.
I'm sure glad that the Wild's decision makers aren't stuck in the 1970's the way the Leafs brass seemingly is.
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Before the panel began, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night In Canada made the Wild the main focus of his "30 Thoughts" article. He talked about how the Wild have accepted advanced statistics and suggests that they used their statistical knowledge to make such an unprecedented switch from an unsuccessful dump & chase team into a possession-dominant machine. You should definitely read the article:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>&quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Wild&amp;src=hash">#Wild</a> general manager Chuck Fletcher is a believer in advanced statistics.&quot; <a href="http://t.co/UOrAgJEfVr">http://t.co/UOrAgJEfVr</a></p>&mdash; Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) <a href="https://twitter.com/ngreenberg/statuses/399997298161516546">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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As I mentioned earlier, some of the panel choices were pretty controversial. Check out the line-up and some reactions:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>The analytics panel here at <a href="https://twitter.com/PrimeTimeSE">@PrimeTimeSE</a> is Kevin Abrams, Kevin Cheveldayoff, Pat Morris, Dave Nonis and Alex Rucker. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ptse2013&amp;src=hash">#ptse2013</a></p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/399998788678746112">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Why in the world do you have a stats panel that includes guys who have zero knowledge or interest?</p>&mdash; mc79hockey (@mc79hockey) <a href="https://twitter.com/mc79hockey/statuses/399999750574841856">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>The fall-out to whatever Dave Nonis says in the next 15 minutes is going to be hilarious, no matter what he says.</p>&mdash; Cam Charron (@camcharron) <a href="https://twitter.com/camcharron/statuses/399999813611032576">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Gord Miller of TSN, who was already coming under fire during the day for some Tweets regarding his views on stats, began the conference with this:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>&quot;If you we&#39;re standing w/ one foot in a bucket of boiling water, one in bucket of freezing water, a statistician</p>&mdash; Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) <a href="https://twitter.com/jtbourne/statuses/399999147753091074">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>would tell you on average, you&#39;re comfortable.&quot; -Gord Miller&#39;s lead-in to stats panel</p>&mdash; Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) <a href="https://twitter.com/jtbourne/statuses/399999156875694080">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Here's one of Miller's Tweets from earlier in the day along with some good responses:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Dear <a href="https://twitter.com/GMillerTSN">@GMillerTSN</a>,&#10;Hockey analytics are already being used on broadcasts every time we talk about shot attempts.&#10;Sincerely,&#10;The TSN broadcast</p>&mdash; Daniel Wagner (@ADanielWagner) <a href="https://twitter.com/ADanielWagner/statuses/400008387796418560">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>The last time I took math was in Grade 11 and I got 57%. If I can get a new stat, so can you.</p>&mdash; Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) <a href="https://twitter.com/Steve_Dangle/statuses/400006890853113856">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>If NHL fans can keep up with the 70-80 rules changes that happen each season, I&#39;m sure they can grasp a new statistical category.</p>&mdash; Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) <a href="https://twitter.com/Steve_Dangle/statuses/400004184319066112">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Interesting quote from the Jets GM, along with some reactions:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NHLJets&amp;src=hash">#NHLJets</a> GM Kevin Cheveldayoff says advanced stats are &quot;polarizing&quot; in hockey. He is for them. &quot;We are very interested in it.&quot;</p>&mdash; Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) <a href="https://twitter.com/reporterchris/statuses/400000883456356352">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Cheveldayoff is playing coy when asked what stats he likes to rely on. These folks often don&#39;t like talking in specifics.</p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/400001407610523649">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>I love how more and more NHL teams are paying attention to analytics and how you still get fans disputing their relevance.</p>&mdash; Rick (@Rick_City) <a href="https://twitter.com/Rick_City/statuses/400002242788724736">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>&quot;Let&#39;s give Ondrej Pavelec $19.5 mil.&quot; RT <a href="https://twitter.com/CraigCustance">@CraigCustance</a> Cheveldayoff on analytics: &quot;We use it to a great extent as a resource.&quot;</p>&mdash; Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) <a href="https://twitter.com/DimFilipovic/statuses/400002277261328386">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Player agent, Pat Morris, had some interesting things to say:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Agent Pat Morris says &quot;today now we&#39;re into Corsi, we&#39;re into Fenwick, we&#39;re into quality of competition.&quot;</p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/400001988794265602">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Morris is talking about zone starts affecting offensive production of players like Phaneuf.</p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/400002144574922753">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Weirdly, Ondrej Pavalec's agent, Allan Walsh, came out in support of stats via his Twitter feed, much to the surprise of many commentators:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Always amazes me how dismissive and arrogant the anti-analytics crowd can get. &quot;It is the way it is because its always been like that.&quot;</p>&mdash; Allan Walsh (@walsha) <a href="https://twitter.com/walsha/statuses/400001085584449536">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>I have no doubt while advanced analytics in hockey still a developing and evolving science, prominence is on the rise w/ many organizations.</p>&mdash; Allan Walsh (@walsha) <a href="https://twitter.com/walsha/statuses/400001711387213824">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Pretty big of Walsh to acknowledge value in quantifying performances with Pavelec as a client.</p>&mdash; Ricardo Yantologist (@ryantologist) <a href="https://twitter.com/ryantologist/statuses/400001679313358848">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Then, Leafs GM, Dave Nonis, predictably, stole the show:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Dave Nonis: &quot;Last six, seven years, we&#39;ve had significant dollar amount, budget, for analytics, but we didn&#39;t use it.&quot;</p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/400003029141037056">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Dave Nonis on these new stats the fans/media keep bringing up: &quot;As of right now, very few of them are worth anything to us.&quot;</p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/400008711424729088">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle">@mirtle</a> That might be the dumbest thing Nonis has ever said in public. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23highbar&amp;src=hash">#highbar</a></p>&mdash; 67Sound (@67sound) <a href="https://twitter.com/67sound/statuses/400010618507653120">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Dave Nonis believes 1) Character and 2) mental toughness are most important in assessing a player.</p>&mdash; PrimeTime Sports&amp;Ent (@PrimeTimeSE) <a href="https://twitter.com/PrimeTimeSE/statuses/400009978989510656">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>3) Bravery 4) heart also mentioned by Pat Morris.</p>&mdash; PrimeTime Sports&amp;Ent (@PrimeTimeSE) <a href="https://twitter.com/PrimeTimeSE/statuses/400010310406643713">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Just a reminder that the Leafs’ two best players were both slagged as bad character guys by their former teams.</p>&mdash; 67Sound (@67sound) <a href="https://twitter.com/67sound/statuses/400013356528320512">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Is there a disastrous signing in the Burke/Nonis era that wasn’t initially hailed as a "character" guy? Komi, Armstrong, Liles…</p>&mdash; 67Sound (@67sound) <a href="https://twitter.com/67sound/statuses/400011499043053569">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>"right now" RT <a href="https://twitter.com/CraigCustance">@CraigCustance</a>: Nonis: &quot;Right now our Corsi stat sucks but we&#39;re winning hockey games.&quot;</p>&mdash; Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) <a href="https://twitter.com/TravisSBN/statuses/400012180839739392">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle">@mirtle</a> Seriously just cut in to say &quot;YEAH BUT YOUR GOALTENDING WAS FUCKING ATROCIOUS!&quot;</p>&mdash; SkinnyPPPilgrim (@SkinnyPPPhish) <a href="https://twitter.com/SkinnyPPPhish/statuses/400013839996956672">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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A very good point from the panel moderator:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Moderator Dana Sinclair says in her experience many sports teams aren&#39;t using analytics enough. Choose players for leadership or bloodlines.</p>&mdash; James Mirtle (@mirtle) <a href="https://twitter.com/mirtle/statuses/399999750608809985">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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In terms of reactions to the panel on Twitter, there was some good stuff about the "Watching the games vs Looking at stats" debate, including a valuable input from TSN's Scott Culen:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Always love this analytics v. watch games strawman. I watch unhealthy amount of NHL. No fathomable way I can see it all. No one does.</p>&mdash; Travis Yost (@TravisHeHateMe) <a href="https://twitter.com/TravisHeHateMe/statuses/400008553144287232">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Is anyone disagreeing w/the quote from Nonis in LRT? Didn&#39;t know he was able to watch every single player take every single shift, though.</p>&mdash; Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) <a href="https://twitter.com/DimFilipovic/statuses/400004287301836800">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>More to that point, if you want to do that predicting based solely on watching games, fine, but at least do the analysis rather than...</p>&mdash; Scott Cullen (@tsnscottcullen) <a href="https://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen/statuses/400005725117612032">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>...dismiss analytics because it hasn&#39;t come up with some foolproof impossible dream number that answers everything.</p>&mdash; Scott Cullen (@tsnscottcullen) <a href="https://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen/statuses/400005905925672960">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Also, some good 'ol +/- bashing:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Yet people in the NHL still take +/- even remotely seriously? John Tavares is a lifetime -32 player. So, I mean, how much does HE suck?</p>&mdash; Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) <a href="https://twitter.com/bradyfan590/statuses/400004762462334977">November 11, 2013</a></blockquote>

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So, make of all that what you will. For me, it's interesting to see this stuff being discussed by everyone from current GMs and ex-players to the mainstream media and bloggers. Acceptance of more statistical analysis in hockey is growing and appears to be gaining momentum. I'm glad the Wild have accepted this and aren't trying to fight it the way the Leafs are. Hopefully it can give the Wild a competitive edge and leads to a Cup within the next few years.

To summarise: Fletcher/Yeo > Nonis/Carlyle

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