Morning Mashup: Coach Stats vs. GM Stats

513

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.

SHARE
Previous articleTwo Days Until Camp Opens...
Next articleLeafs Announce Training Camp Roster
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]
  • phaneufoundlander

    Mornin laddies…

  • peterbleafs

    Who turned up the heat? I so hate these advance stats things, I never liked statistics in university and sure as heck am not going to drag calculus and stats into my sports interests.  Today is about waiting for signings and participating in the various degrees of panic around them.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Mason Raymond is a good example of the coach/GM difference.  RC might like and prefer Raymond because he’s an established NHL player.  A GM looking at the future might think do I really want Raymond because he’ll likely be here for only one year and he’s blocking the integration of bringing in prospects who are ready or close to ready like Colborne, D’Amigo and Ashton.  Those guys can only play in the AHL for so long and in the shorter and intermediate term are much cheaper players.
    This is not a knock on Nonis but it’s interesting that he’s the one bringing in Raymond on the PTO.

  • Knights2Leafs

    TheCanucksnaphook
    Yeah, but this one was easy peasy to read and actually make sense or at least the excerpts posted by Alec.

  • Knights2Leafs

    and bringing Raymond in when we apparently don’t have enough cap room for Franson and Kadri.  I say apparently because Nonis seems to think we do have enough room.

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks

  • Burtonboy

    Knights2Leafs I still say the coach is and was consulted in this case and is on board with this tryout . As for cap space we won’t really know how it plays out till Oct. 1st . I certainly have questions  and doubts about what he’s doing but he get the benefit of doubt until he actually fucks up.

  • Mind Bomb

    TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb Sup Phook, looking like a Hot one today, good day for some Leaf signings

  • colino17

    Knights2Leafs I don’t think the cap is a problem as he will likely sign for less than that 900k threshold either he will end up being demoted and the cap disappearing, or someone like Kule with a higher salary will be traded to make room, or he’ll take the spot of another one of the guys making under 900k and they will be demoted. Should be a wash cap wise, if not a gain.

  • Mind Bomb

    TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb  nice man, beats going to work any day of the week

  • B_Leaf

    Could everybody just stop with the Kulemin trades. Seriously this guy isn’t going anywhere. If you guys want to win the cup, Kule will be a huge part of it. The guy plays very important minutes, you don’t just replace him with a Mason Raymond or a Jerry D’Amigo. C’mon man!

  • maple1967leafs

    TheCanucksnaphook Knights2Leafs never really heard that phrase before,But if it works i’ll try it on the wife tonight   :)

  • colino17

    B_Leaf It’s not that anybody wants him traded its just that with the cap crunch and his pending UFA status he seems like a candidate to be traded

  • B_Leaf

    colino17 B_Leaf 
    I don’t think the cap crunch is so bad when they can run with a 21 player roster. Even still, if you move Kulemin you leave a huge hole. I agree they don’t have a lot of options on players to move, if they had to but that is why Nonis should have bought out Liles. To leave Liles here and then move Kulemin to make space would just be terrible management.

  • B_Leaf

    TheCanucksnaphook B_Leaf 
    So Phook, what value do you place on Kulemin’s contribution. How do you suggest filling the hole he would leave?

  • TMLConnor

    I heard kadri posted on Bobs twitter saying it wasnt true

  • B_Leaf

    TheCanucksnaphook B_Leaf 
    Kulemins contribution at $2.8 is pretty good…it is a fair hit. Next year I expect he gets the same unless he miraculously scores 25 goals, in which case he might deserve a little more. No one else will be able to pay him more either.

  • Cameron19

    B_Leaf TheCanucksnaphook Many teams will be able to pay him more. He will likely get 3.5 million or so on his next deal.

  • B_Leaf

    TheCanucksnaphook B_Leaf 
    Well yes teams can, but that is why we should do it as well. Generally a player likes to stay put. I would guess if the Leafs offered Kule an extension at the same 2.8 he might take it on a five year deal.

  • B_Leaf

    Cameron19 B_Leaf TheCanucksnaphook 
    Many teams? I don’t know. It depends how much the cap is. And if the cap is up a lot then we have more money too. Phaneuf deal stays about the same $. Kessel gets more but not as much as a lot are saying if its an 8 year deal. 
    We get $2.5 back in the kitty from retained salary and buy outs. We could pick up money in a Liles trade or buy out. 
    I would have no problem paying Kule $3.5 if he scores 20 goals and plays his game.

  • B_Leaf

    TheCanucksnaphook B_Leaf 
    The fifth year Kule is 32

  • B_Leaf

    TheCanucksnaphook B_Leaf 
    lol

  • Cameron19

    -Keon- It was a bad time to judge the goalies.  Gustavsson put together a strong stretch for us, then Wilson kept forcing a still loopy Reimer into the net.

  • B_Leaf

    -Keon- 
    I watched Kulemin at Biggs age, and ah there is no comparison yet. Biggs is still a major project. But like you said we have to see how he progresses.

  • Cameron19

    B_Leaf Cameron19 TheCanucksnaphook I don’t see why scoring 20 goals is so important to his value all of a sudden.  You were saying his value is outside of scoring, and yet you only want to pay him if he can score.  Every team would offer him 5 years at 2.8 million – that’s a hell of a bargain. I think you need to do 3.5X4 to get him though, and even then, he may get offers from the KHL, or feel enticed to just leave and go play with Malkin.

    Also, we have Gardiner, Reimer, Bolland, Ranger and McClement, who will all need raises as well – many of them potentially significant.  Gardiner and Reimer could both be north of 4 million.

  • B_Leaf

    Cameron19 B_Leaf TheCanucksnaphook 
    I just threw out the 20 goals…I wasn’t really making that a priority…I mean if he scores 4 goals that would affect his salary even though his value is mostly defensive. If he scores 14 that is a little low for him but not terrible…if he scores 19 or 20, well it could provide the basis for a little more money as long as other aspects hold up.

  • B_Leaf

    -Keon- 
    We are going for the cup in the next five years and beyond. A strong defensive forward like Kulemin goes a long way to helping. I think he stays…maybe Biggs gets added too if he develops.

  • mcloki

    Morning Gents. One day till medicals. Hopefully we sign Kadri and Franson and start to get ready without an distractions v

  • Dink

    B_Leaf D’Amigo?

  • Dink

    6.2 million can sign Raymond, Franson and Kadri…very achievable

  • Savo43

    TheCanucksnaphook Raymond will be a Leaf bud, get used to it. 😉

  • Mind Bomb

    mcloki  Morning Bro, should happen now. It would be ludicrous to not have them at camp

  • B_Leaf

    Savo43 TheCanucksnaphook 
    I don’t think so myself, but not necessarily a bad thing if it happens

  • Savo43

    CanuckUKinToronto well if you demote Liles for Brennan, we drop 325k off the cap..then it fits. We can demote up to 925k off of Liles salary correct?

  • Savo43

    TheCanucksnaphook CanuckUKinToronto Raymond will be cheaper than any of our prospects though phook, and more effective. He’s a solid penalty killer, great in shootouts, and decent on the powerplay. I think ppl are just hatin’ on him bc he was a Canuck and falls alot loll.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Dreger also said Franson will likely only get 2 mil

  • Mind Bomb

    TheCanucksnaphook 100 percent Phook

  • Savo43

    TheCanucksnaphook at 3-400k more than Raymond? Hell no. Raymond is the better player, and will help the cap situation, whereas these kids could benefit continuing to progress in the minors. Not sure why we’re so eager to bring up unproven talent.

  • Mind Bomb

    TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb  Totally agree, we are developing our own players now, we dont need other peoples cast offs.

  • TMLConnor

    Why do we even have Liles? Old, too much $ and not a physical force what so ever

  • Savo43

    TheCanucksnaphook Savo43 Lmaoo.

  • B_Leaf

    So here we are the day before camp and we have our team pretty much assembled, just need to get those contracts sorted out by 5pm. Pretty sure Nonis will get it done. 
    Interesting team we have with some bold changes to a team that was looking pretty good. I feel like we are built for the playoffs and I like that. I also like the combination of grit and skill in our lineup. 
    Another thing about our line-up that I like is we have a lot of players still trending up in their careers and virtually none who are trending down yet. In addition the players we have trending up have good pedigree with high ceilings. Guys like Kessel 5th overall, Jvr 2nd overall, Kadri 7th overall, even Lupul 29 years old taken at 7th overall seems to be getting better, Gardiner 17th overall, Bernier 11th overall, Colborne 16th overall, Rielly 5th overall, and so on. Phaneuf was 9th overall as well but has probably reached his prime. Anyway we have lots of other guys drafted later who are also good players and still getting better, some of them showing high end upside like Reimer and Franson. 
    With Gardiner and Ranger added to our back end, and Clarkson, Boland, Colborne and one more guy (D’Amigo, Leivo, Raymond, Ashton) added to our forwards we have addressed some weaknesses this team had. We added some crucial experience without adding “old”. Chemistry and team leadership are they only issues to sort out. If it does and it should, with Carlyle coaching we are a cup contender now IMO.  Lets roll.

  • Burtonboy

    Coming up on the 1 yr anniversary of the NHL lockout, teams have been given revenue and cap projections from the League. (1)
    In 3 years, the league projects the Upper Limit at $80M and the floor at $64M. (Upper Limit today is $64.3M). Why did we have a lockout? (2)

  • LightmyLeaf

    Mind Bomb TheCanucksnaphook I think Raymond is here just to light a fire under D’Amigo/Ashton’s ass’…competition breads good things…then cut Raymond or he gets picked up somewhere…and Nnis did his old pic a favour….

  • B_Leaf

    TMLConnor 
    good question

  • rickpearce76

    B_Leaf Now with Bolland and hopefully another decent winger he is going to shine in his proper fitting as a 3rd lin grinder. I am excited for what he can bring this season with less expectation for offense and playing (theoretically) against weaker defensive units than he would on his old line with Grabbo and MacA.

  • Uncle Otis

    Leave it to Anthony to write a piece illustrating stats that actually make sense and can be used as a coaching tool for improvement
    Excellent job as always…and Cronin not knowing about Corsi is a resume booster!

  • Mind Bomb

    LightmyLeaf Mind Bomb TheCanucksnaphook  Probably LmL, I just hope he does not take a Roster spot from Colburne.

  • Leafs rule

    Mind Bomb LightmyLeaf TheCanucksnaphook Hell yea ,me 3 ,Joe stays

  • LightmyLeaf

    I got this book, Hockey, THE Magizine….KEssel on front, thinking great projections and fist pumps inside for my Leafs!
    Low and behold, they perdict the Leafs in 5th in their division, getting beat out by Habnots for the final spot, Ottawa one ahead of that…Det. in 2nd….then they have Biggs on the third line…and Colbourne on the 5th line….NAz first line center(which could happen, Bozie 2nd)….who are these people? I’m burning this f’n book….sounds like Fenton’s prophecies….