Morning Mashup: Coach Stats vs. GM Stats

Morning Mashup: Coach Stats vs. GM Stats

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Now, before you bewail another “advanced stats debate,” give this latest article by Anthony Petrielli some time of day. He’s given us permission to post some lengthier excerpts before you head over to his general hockey blog to read the rest.

Intro:

Last week, the National Post published a story centered on the Leafs Jay McClement. In it, McClement referenced some of the stats coaching staffs track and utilize. After pointing it out as an interesting tool, I received some replies that suggested it was basically a useless waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. As someone who coaches hockey, I consider some of the things the Leafs coaching staff tracks to be useful as a teaching mechanism for my players. If I had access to those stats for my team I would use them all the time to breakdown plays, consistencies, weaknesses, strengths, etc. The thing is, most of these stats are not great indicators of long-term sustainability with the ability to project the future well. Herein lies the key fact of the matter: there are differences between coaching stats and GM stats, and those different stats have different values depending on your position and what you’re trying to achieve.

My goal here isn’t to breakdown all the stats and assign them labels as a “coach stat” or “GM stat;” what I’m really trying to do is discuss how stats have various strengths and weaknesses, and how they can help or hurt our judgement depending on how we are viewing the game.

A good place to start would be discussing the stats in question and the ones the Leafs used. There were only two named and they were tracking turnovers-takeaway ratios and tracking hitting location, both of which I’d say are fairly peripheral for a GM but can be important for a coach to use.

On turnovers:

We already know how the Leafs breakdown turnovers, because they’ve told us. Carlyle records turnovers in three categories: 1) Guy is playing as an individual; 2) Offensive player takes chance; 3) ‘Brain-dead.’ What that really means, when it comes to the Leafs tracking turnovers, is that coaching staff wants to erase 3). You can show a player his CORSI and it will mean absolutely nothing and have no effect on his game whatsoever, but if you’re breaking down his turnovers with him maybe that leads to a swing of shots on net against to a few more shots for.

Furthermore, that turnover description can also be broken down through player roles. Yes, the Leafs let Phil Kessel take chances (and again, I’m just using the Leafs as an example here but this applies to every team, really) because he’s in a scoring role and that’s what they ask him to do. However, a player like Jay McClement is in a grinding role so the Leafs aren’t as comfortable with him falling under the “1” category. If McClement loses the puck once or twice a game because he’s tried to beat a defenseman one-on-one, that’s probably not acceptable; that’s not his role. I’d wager a guess that they would ask him to chip and chase, or pass the puck to the trailer, instead of deking.

Showing players the type of turnovers they make and what they can and can’t do is how you preach puck management. You can’t just show a player his possession stats and think that’s going to change anything; you need to look into what’s causing that and how you change that. Specifically breaking down turnovers is one way that can be done.

On tracking hits:

That takes us to tracking hits. Hits have some, little, or no value at all depending on your beliefs, but knowing where a guy is making his hits can be valuable in maximizing a player’s efficiency. Regardless of where you stand on the value of a hit, the ability to hit a guy, separate him from the puck, and retrieve it for possession is important and valuable for any player to have. If player X and player Y both throw 100 hits, and X has 25 hits that change possession while Y has 35, player Y is obviously more valuable physically. I’d like to see the breakdown of X’s hits to see why he’s being physical yet not able to change possession as much. Although Dustin Brown is a much better player than Cal Clutterbuck, I would compare their hitting styles (as their hit counts are usually similar) and guess that Brown is much more effective at hitting on the forecheck and getting the puck versus Cal Clutterbuck, who more just finishes a lot of his checks. As a coach you can’t just shrug and say “well I have Cal Clutterbuck who hits a lot but isn’t very effective at doing so to turn the puck over.” You actually need to try and find ways to maximize his skillset. That’s what good coaches do.

There’s no doubt that this is a little thing, but it’s a win if a coach gets a forward who hits a lot to throw 20 more hits over the course of the year that cause a change in possession and lead to, say, two extra goals. Showing his defensemen when to finish hits in the D-zone and when not to, leading to better positioning and preventing three goals against that otherwise probably would have happened, is a win. A coach can only use what he has – something that is too often forgotten online — so if he’s getting players to be just a little more effective than usual, that’s a win.

Wrapping up:

Even in Moneyball, we see the staff talking to players about things such as “if you take a first pitch strike, your batting average drops X for the rest of the at bat” versus telling a player, “your OBP is too low, now you know, so change that.” Is OBP useful in baseball? Of course. Is it useful in terms of teaching a player how to improve though? Not really.

What it really boils down: Coaches use certain stats to cover the nuances of the game, and the GM uses overarching stats that look at the big picture to ask “what’s all this work really producing?”

This is why I believe many coaches are terrible GMs. Mike Keenan (Luongo trade) and Darryl Sutter (Phaneuf trade) immediately come to mind. Being a GM takes a certain mind frame where you are always projecting the future, working within the parameters of the cap, juggling expiring veteran contracts with the rookies in your organization, and so on. The best GMs are ones who can properly analyze and predict the future and when to buy low and sell high.

Coaches, meanwhile, look at players and see, “I like this size in my line-up” or, “I want that guy because he wins a lot of battles.” It’s a completely different thought process.

Next time you see an organization discuss a stat they use, really take a second to consider how they might be using that stat before you instantly criticize it simply because you don’t agree with it.

Read the full article here.

 

This was an interesting look at result vs. process when it comes to statistics in hockey. It makes an important distinction on what stats can be applicable at the coaching level and which are useless to a coach (but perhaps useful to a GM) when trying to utilize analytical tools to get the most out of his team of players. In the process it provides some insights on how numbers and eyeballing can be complement one another rather than clash.

It also further illustrated a point as it pertains to the Leafs and their use of analytics – calling the Leafs backward simply because we don’t know what exactly they track, other than knowing they may not be the same metrics one may have come to understand online, is  presumptive and narrow minded. Greg Cronin caught some flak for having no clue what Corsi was, but why would he? He can’t instruct his players to “do more Corsis,” and telling a player only to throw more pucks on net in most cases is not going help him perform any better anyway. Slowly, it seems, we are beginning to learn of some the stats the Leafs do place value on. The Leafs track and categorize hits and turnovers; they also track, grade and break scoring chances down into six different categories. They look at zone entries and odd man rushes. These all have interesting and potentially useful applications.

Tuesday morning links…

Latest on Kadri: Give and Take
Pretty much exactly what we’ve been talking about here while everyone was flipping out over Kadri’s long term demands. Kadri wants Duchene’s contract (2 x $3.5m), Leafs want to give him Couture’s contract (2 x $2.85m).

Top 25 under 25: #3 Nazem Kadri
Read some more about Kadri, if you feel you haven’t heard enough about him lately.

Mason Raymond – Pre Injury/Post Injury, and what does his future hold?
Again, provided this is unrelated to any outstanding contract situations, Anthony put in best in a chat yesterday when he said, “worse case he’s a guy who will score a few goals just by being so damn fast.” We’ll see how he looks.

Does/Should Morgan Rielly make the team
Said Rielly over the weekend: “Not gonna lie, I know what capgeek is.”

Getting to Know Dion Phaneuf
Yes, he smiles.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]

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596 comments
DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

My "short list" of players that definitely require editing in NHL 14 is 114 players long. Yikes. That isn't even fine-tuning, it's fixing ratings that clearly stand out.

.JVR.
.JVR.

If Kadri isn't signed by the start of the season, which I don't think will be a problem, Raymond could be signed and the Leafs would be able to go with the following up front.

JVR   -   Bozak   -   Kessel

Lupul   -   Colborne   -   Clarkson

Raymond   -   Bolland   -   Kulemin

McLaren   -   McClement   -   Orr

(Smith)


Not too bad if you ask me.

GeorgeCastanza
GeorgeCastanza

Phil Kessel would have helped win the Bruins their second cup. Afterall kessel is only a carreer PPG player in the Playoffs with Boston and with Toronto.  hehe

mORRganRielly
mORRganRielly

Boy oh boy do I want to troll everyone on Twitter right now.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

i just watched the first part of the clip, BOS talking about Seguin.

i have to say, that's EXACTLY how i think.  have to pick the core.  knowing the difference between playoffs and regular season.  if we can get a guy to win with...

i'm not blown away...i'm rather impressed.  i think the GM's face says "it's potential for somethig bad to happen since we drafted him so high" but the reasoning is solid imo.

KurtWhite
KurtWhite

@DWCMLHS haha why go into tthat much trouble?...I hear they are gonna change ratings as the season goes by how well a player is playing

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@.JVR. Yes yes and yes and I approve lol,Joe on the 2 end where he belongs depending how he does at camp that is ,

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@.JVR. 

i think Colbourne will do fine this year.  Lupul on that line...might have the creativity to make it work from the wing.

is Raymond a good defensive player?  i've never heard him described that way.  if he a little Paul Kariya in him i'd be real interested in the possibilities.  that was not a sex joke, Doorman!

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@GeorgeCastanza 

if BOS had Kessel instead of Seguin they absolutely would have stood a better chance.

however, Kreji would have to have been moved a couple years earlier...so it was never gonna happen.  poor BOS.

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

@dlb eh It was basically "Seguin is soft and a brat."

Hard to knock the approach when it's led to success. Bruins want everybody on their team willing to engage physically, be effective on the forecheck, and be able to go to war in the playoffs. The comment "we like his speed... in the regular season" was interesting.

They're really committed to their organizational culture and identity.. it seemed when they referenced Kessel, they really don't care about his production in Toronto because he didn't do what they ask of their players. It's not that teams can't win with a player like Kessel, obviously, but they're really committed to what they believe in.

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

they really didn't like losing Horton.  moreso than i figured they would be.

that's a great video.  i'm only part way through.  i love this shit.  lol

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

I just want the ratings to be good enough that they don't make me physically ill to look at.

.JVR.
.JVR.

@dlb eh

I think Kadri will be signed and Colborne will be buried in the bottom 6, so I don't expect to much from him this season.

As for Raymond, I have no idea if he's good defensively or not.

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

@Alec Brownscombe @dlb eh What I found very interesting was one of Boston's management saying that if they got an effort from Seguin they would have won the cup, that was some statement and an indictment on Seguin.

JWaterdrager
JWaterdrager

@Alec Brownscombe @dlb eh 

Interesting to see there draft choices then. Sounds like they used their top picks to get the best player, but not for their team, but to use to trade?

DJBrianBurke
DJBrianBurke

@Alec Brownscombe @dlb eh 
What did they (Bruins) expect when they drafted Kessel and Seguin? Seriously, they have scouts that can tell them what kind of "leopard" they are. I think most hockey fans, even with the most basic knowledge, would have been able to tell you that they aren't that kind of player. Sure they could maybe play "harder" when the playoff come around, but by how much really.

I wonder how they felt when Kessel out muscled Chara along the boards lol

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Alec Brownscombe @dlb eh Thats uncommon with teams. As I mentioned, the Red Wings look for plays who can play with the puck and play that possession game they play. The Devils look for defensive minded and two-way players, if you can't play defense they don't want you etc.... 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

Komas

i believe Kessel has heart and does complete more than Seguin does. some won't agree with that. some will think it's the opposite. fact is, BOS viewed them the same.  so they're apples to apples to compare at least.

if we drafted Seguin would we be happy with the return BOS got for him? no. would a team trade us a top 5 pick for him? no. we'd be stuck with him hoping he'll become something more.

thank you Kessel.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@GeorgeCastanza @Greg Fenton @dlb eh Or he could have pulled the trigger and not allowed the Kings to get their offer in. 

I think that conference stuff is overrated. I think most GM's look for the best deal. Period. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@GeorgeCastanza @Greg Fenton @dlb eh I've always heard it as they demanded Kulemin and Kadri, Burke went to go talk about it with Nonis and co., and while they were thinking about it, the Kings made an offer the Flyers took. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@GeorgeCastanza @Greg Fenton @dlb eh And there was talk that there was lockerroom/leadership issues with Richards /Carter and Pronger

Just pointing out, you move a player for off-ice reasons, sometimes other teams come out with some pretty good player. 

I still thikn Burke's biggest miss as GM was not landing Richards. 

GeorgeCastanza
GeorgeCastanza

@Greg Fenton @GeorgeCastanza @dlb eh ywell not quite the same. I mean Carters and Richards felt entitled to party because you know ...they're proven.  But Seguin hadn't proved anything yet.  I'm sure all the hype he received probably implanted a sense of entitlement though.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@dlb eh @Greg Fenton @GeorgeCastanza though, I will add, that history makes me doubt the idea/suggestion that Kessel would take less then market value next year to remain a Leaf. 

If he would force a trade to get the money he feels is he worth, I have no doubt he'd test the UFA market for the same reason. 

DJBrianBurke
DJBrianBurke

@JWasted @Alec Brownscombe @dlb eh They got value for Kessel, the picks, not the players themselves as I'm not sold on Hamilton at all. Not sure about the Seguin trade, time will tell. He did have problems so that has to be factored in.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@dlb eh @Greg Fenton Yet two teams who won 6 combined cups built around players draft early (and 1 cup, combined, not though still built using the rebuild model, just with 2 very lucky picks....... just saying). 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@Greg Fenton 

incidently, you mentioned two teams that typically don't draft early

i think they draft smart.  ti's how i think the TML draft philosophy changed a few years ago, looking for character and intelligence as key traits.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@dlb eh @Greg Fenton @Alec BrownscombeIt would depend on what that teams "style" is. 

I think the Red Wings style has a lot to do with mentality and skill (I've heard they look for hockey IQ a lot). If its speed, some players just won't be fast enough etc... If its about defensive play or being physical and hard working etc..., those are things you can teach. 

Somethings can be taught and worked on, somethings can't. 

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

@dlb eh @Greg Fenton @Alec Brownscombe I believe the Bruins draft best player available, and in their process of developing the player try to teach the Bruin way.

Seguin didn't embrace the Bruin way.

Be interesting to see how it works out.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Alec Brownscombe @Greg Fenton @dlb eh Yep, that was one issue I had with Ferguson. He was all over the place. The team was slow, sign Blake. They were bad defensively, sign Gill. etc... It was a collection of players without that strong team idenity and way of playing. 

Alec Brownscombe
Alec Brownscombe moderator

@Greg Fenton @Alec Brownscombe @dlb eh I'm not saying every team should replicate it. It's just how the Bruins have found success.

You obviously need the talent first and foremost. But finding your identity, culture, committing to it, and finding the pieces that fit is what makes you a winner

CanuckUKinToronto
CanuckUKinToronto

@Greg Fenton @.JVR.  Kessel finished top 10 in pts 2 yrs in a row and is a top 5 in total goals over the last few yrs.. If Seguin had a ceiling higher than that .. he would not have been traded. esp for the return.

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Greg Fenton

Also, the key word is "potential".

Seguin has the "potential" to be among the best centers in the NHL, while Kessel already is among the best wingers in the league. 

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Greg Fenton

So, you don't think having Kessel in the lineup improved the team at all?

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@.JVR. @Greg Fenton 

there's no way Seguin has a higher ceiling.  Kessel has been better in every facet of the game than Seguin year to year.  the only thing Seguin does better is one-time slapshots.  literally, that's it.  Kessel has him beat in every other category known to mankind.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@.JVR. @Greg Fenton I'm assuming he would have had the same pick. 

His ceiling is higher, he has the potential to be among the best centers int he NHL, its just questionable at htis point if he'll get there. 

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Greg Fenton

So, you think Burke would have selected Seguin over Hall?

Also, I really don't think Seguin's ceiling is higher.  His ceiling is about the same as Kessel, but I don't see him being better than Kessel in 2-3 years time.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@-Keon- Frattin is probably one of the very few examples I could think of where a player here gets overvalued. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Greg Fenton @Cameron19 Very few Leaf players are overvalued. Point out one flaw in any of them and you'll be listening to an hour of complaining about the player. We literally extract singular errors as proof that a player is in general terrible. 

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@Cameron19 Today alone I think I've seen every Leaf player described as excellent, I don't undervaluing guys is a problem. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

Seguin has never played center in the NHL.  He is no more a center than Kessel was at the same age.

Cameron19
Cameron19

Are you guys serious right now?  Leaf players are never overvalued.  They're run out of town.  We've spent years running down Kessel while he was busy being at the top of the league. I can't think of an organization where the fans undervalue their players more.

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@.JVR. @Greg Fenton I know, I tried to make the responce comment similar to what people say about Kessel now, because he is the one overvalued now, but if Burke kept the pick it would be Seguin. Whoever the Leaf's have is going to get the benefit of the doubt and be viewed in the most positive light possible. 

Int erms of 29 other GM's make that trade....it depends on the teams needs and what their short term (cause long term are always the same) objectives are. Seguin is a 21 year old (will be 22 by the end of the year) center with franchise, #1 center potential. He hasn't got there yet, but at 21 he is still developing. Kessel is an established, 26 year old, 7 season vet with 300 more games. He isn't as good as what Seguins ceiling is, but he is the better player now and Seguin may not reach that potential. 

So it really dependent. 

.JVR.
.JVR.

@Greg Fenton

Yea, you're probably right man.

But that has more to do with the fact that we, as Leafs fans, overvalue our own players.

We may not trade Seguin (if we had him) for Kessel, but I'm sure the 30 NHL GM's would make that trade in a nanosecond.

(BTW, if we didn't trade for Kessel, we probably would have finished last in 2009/10 and would have drafted Hall 1st overall)

Greg Fenton
Greg Fenton

@dlb eh If the Leafs drafted Seguin most Leaf fans would be calling him a #1 center and would laugh at the idea of trading Seguin for anything. If someone suggested "trade Seguin to the Bruins for Kessel", most Leaf fans would responce with something like "why would we trade him before he comes into his own? A #1 center is more valuable thena  goal scoring winger, and who would Kessel play with after that trade? It makes no sense and the Leafs would never do it". 

dlb Mad
dlb Mad

@JWasted @dlb eh

Anthony posted link below...come back if you don't see it i'll check my history...