If you're an avid follower of hockey pundits on Twitter, or just the game in general, you probably know that hardly a day goes by without an impassioned debate regarding the validity and use of advanced statistics. It's not unlike the debate that flooded baseball over decades culminating in the publication of Michael Lewis' best-selling book Moneyball. The major difference now is that there is Twitter, so everything is kind of out in the open even more than it was previously and pretty much anyone and everyone can chime in. It's not exactly conducive to constructive argument. There are plenty of folks who have little belief in the numbers, but it seems that fewer within the hockey industry are among them. Take Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill for instance. Known as a progressive thinker, Nill has been vocal about his diving into the numbers in helping make more informed decisions. In fact, he's given two interviews this month where he went into more detail than most executives would about the role analytics play in the Stars' decision-making process. From Michael Florek of the Dallas Morning News: Nill and his staff now use a computer program that does the work of at least 100 college students: it measures Corsi, giveaways/takeaways, scoring chances and a host of other stats. After each game, the coaching staff reviews the numbers then goes back to the film and tracks its own stats to look for any discrepancies. The numbers flag certain elements the Stars staff might miss. From there, the staff examines the aspects further and comes to a decision that could determine a player's future. "If it's a number you get out of right field, I think it's great for analyzing that," Nill said. "Why such a difference? If the numbers are closer, now you've got more of a comfort level to say, ‘OK, yes. There's something here. We made this decision as a staff and the numbers back it up.' It's a lot easier to make a decision then."
Stars GM Jim Nill big on using advanced statistics
CBS Sports | Aug 1