My Thoughts


Thursday Grab Bag

posted Sep 21, 2017, 11:21 AM by Robert Vollman

In the NFL, there's a Fourth Down Bot that calculates whether a team should punt, kick a field goal, or go for it on fourth down. I'd love to see something like that in hockey. Like, perhaps, a Pull the Goalie Bot, which calculates at what time the goalie should be pulled, based on the score, the scoring rates of the teams involved, the manpower situation, and the location of the most recent event (i.e. you don't want to pull the goalie in the defensive zone). 

The Florida Panthers

Jason Demers was traded by the Florida Panthers to the Arizona Coyotes, for Jamie McGinn. That gives the Coyotes the sensational top four of Ekman-Larsson, Hjalmarsson, Goligoski, and Demers, and depletes Florida's to read Ekblad, Yandle, Petrovic, Matheson. There's some offensive punch there, but that's not exactly a lineup that Crosby will struggle to score against. Meanwhile, McGinn is a depth winger with an annual cap hit of $3.33 million. Yowch.

In Hockey Abstract 2017, I wrote the following about Florida's reputation for being a pro-analytics team.

This move is yet another example that building an analytics team is different than actually using them. If you judge a team's adoption of analytics by how many of their moves meet with agreement from the analytics community, Florida is average, at best (and dropping). Instead, teams like Nashville, Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Arizona are the ones who appear to be including the opinions of the number crunchers in their decision-making.

Wasted Cap Space

Of course, if there's a criticism for teams like Nashville, Arizona, and Carolina, it's the enormous amount of wasted cap space they have. Colin Cudmore just updated his list of the wasted cap space throughout the league, and there are three teams in equally bad situations - Colorado, Columbus, and Toronto.


The Dallas Stars

I saw an interesting post from Brent Severyn on Twitter. Apparently, Ken Hitchcock is coaching the biggest team he's ever had. 

Not only did Dallas add a great coach and plenty of size, but they added Ben Bishop in nets, Marc Methot on the blue line, and Martin Hanzal and Alexander Radulov up front. Yes, they paid a possibly excessive premium to get those players, but watch out for the Stars this year.

Twitter Polls

I had a few polls this week, let's take a look at the results. Let's start with more on Erik Karlsson. Despite likely missing only about a dozen games, his injury is seen as the most significant blue line injury right now. I'll ask about forwards this week.

If Karlsson misses a bunch of games and doesn't win the Norris, then that opens up the door for someone new -- assuming that it doesn't go to a usual suspect like Brent Burns, P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, or Duncan Keith. If it does go to someone new, who might it be? Victor Hedman, apparently.


That might be a case of recency bias. Hedman finished third in the voting last year, while the others received their Norris consideration in years previous. I was also scolded for leaving off Shea Weber -- my bad! I honestly thought he had already won. He finished second a couple of times, but he has never won. I might have to re-run this poll with Weber instead of Suter.

Last poll of the week, it was about players aged 37 and up. Who is likely to win the old-timers scoring race? Joe Thornton was the choice, despite being outscored 68 to 50 last year by Henrik Zetterberg.


Supporting the Community

A new Patreon campaign was launched, for Natural Stat Trick. It's in our own naked self-interest to get as many financial resources as possible in the hands of those with sites like these. If you are in a position to contribute, here are the four current Patreon campaigns, to my knowledge.

In closing, here's an updated list of important dates, provided by our friends at Cap Friendly. Most importantly, the Waivers period begins tomorrow.



Three polls, and influencing other sports

posted Sep 14, 2017, 12:51 PM by Robert Vollman

I ran three polls recently, and got some interesting results. 

Further to the Stanley Cup odds in my previous post, I first asked which of the four identified favourites people would be most comfortable actually betting on. It may be a case of recency bias, but apparently Pittsburgh winning for the third consecutive season is the safest bet.
 
So it seems like Pittsburgh over Edmonton is the consensus favourite, as we get set for pre-season. I certainly see the logic to it, and I can't necessarily come up with a scenario that is significantly more likely than that. 

The next poll was about the Ottawa Senators. Erik Karlsson will miss the first few weeks of the season recovering from foot surgery, and then will have a brand new partner, since Marc Methot was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, and subsequently dealt to the Dallas Stars. Who should be his new partner? Rookie Thomas Chabot, apparently.


That puts a lot of scoring on one line. I spoke with one insider, who confirmed that Chabot is in a good position, but also mentioned Johnny Oduya, and even Ben Harpur. There were also a lot of write-in votes for Fredrik Claesson, and at least one fan mentioned Chris Wideman. There are certainly a lot of options for coach Guy Boucher to consider.

My third poll was about the Columbus Blue Jackets, and which individual was most to credit for last year's stunning improvement of 32 points. Unsurprisingly, Bobrovsky topped the list.


If it's true, and Bobrovsky was the reason they vaulted up the standings, then they could be in trouble. Bobrovsky's save percentage is bound to drop by up to 10 points, and certainly has the potential to drop even further if he has a bad season. In my view, they would have been a playoff team last year even with an average performance out of Bobrovsky, which should remain the case this season.

Before I wrap up, I wanted to mention how the do-it-all index has now made its way to soccer. A lot of the stats we have innovated here in hockey were ripped off from baseball, so it's neat to see one of ours ripped off for another sport.


As for hockey, the next thing I want to see ripped off is the NFL's Fourth Down Bot. It reviews every fourth down situation and statistically calculates the right play, whether that's to punt, kick a field goal, or go for it. Most of the time, NFL coaches prove to be too conservative.

In hockey, I'd love to see a Pull The Goalie bot. In each game, it would calculate at what time the goalie should have been pulled, and compare that to the actual time the goalie was pulled. Let's see if someone follows through on this idea, because it would be a lot of fun.


This year's champs, plus my thoughts on the Athletic

posted Sep 11, 2017, 11:56 AM by Robert Vollman   [ updated Sep 11, 2017, 11:56 AM ]

It might be a case of recency bias, but 52% of poll respondents said that the Metropolitan is the strongest division. The Central division looks quite strong to me, but it was barely ahead of the other two. It's a little surprising to see that 1-in-4 fans think that either the Atlantic or the Pacific are the strongest division.


And, still on the topic of recency bias, the Penguins are the current favourite to win the Stanley Cup. Three in a row would be incredible. 


There are quite a few surprises at the top of the list list, but not as many at the bottom. If I had to choose one of those at the bottom, I'd probably bet on the Carolina Hurricanes at 66/1. Also, the Ottawa Senators came within a double-overtime bounce of making the Stanley Cup, and yet they're at 40/1. That's the worst of any playoff team, well behind the St. Louis Blues at 28/1.

Finally, you've probably noticed that the Athletic has been scooping up virtually every available hockey writer. That includes prominent hobbyists, and long-time professional journalists. Quite frankly, it's easier to list those that aren't with the Athletic than those who are. I'm looking forward to seeing their coverage.

This marks another turn in the history of our field. 15 years ago, our small community could be found in two places: a collection of blogs known as the Oilogosphere, and a Yahoo discussion board called HAG started by Iain Fyffe. Just under a decade ago, we all spread out over a collection of three websites, the Nations Network, SB Nation, and Hockey Prospectus. A few years ago, the last of those three faded away, and its spot was replaced by Hockey Graphs (but without the annual guide books).

Now, it seems like a lot of the community is being brought together under the Athletic. I'm really interested to see what can be achieved with so many people in our field working together, all in one place, and with the necessary resources to succeed. I think each of these other sites aimed to achieve the same goal, but was never really able to break into the mainstream, or become particularly lasting and/or profitable for all of those involved. After all these years, I'm really hoping that our time has finally come.

The Sedins, and Paul Maurice

posted Sep 7, 2017, 8:39 PM by Robert Vollman

Is it time to trade the Sedins? According to my most recent Twitter poll, which had 629 respondents, they're the long-time franchise player(s) that it makes the most sense to move.

I don't deny that the Canucks should be in rebuild mode, and it makes sense to trade the Sedins before their contracts expire at the end of the year. The problem with trading the Sedins is that you pretty much have to move them as a package. Since they carry a combined cap hit of $14.0 million. According to Cap Friendly, only New Jersey, Carolina, and Arizona have that much cap space. There's little chance that either of these three teams will be competitive enough to rent the Sedins down the stretch. Of course, there is the possibility that Vancouver can eat a high-priced contract in return. Let's re-visit this at the trade deadline, and see what's what.

In other news, the Jets extended Paul Maurice, which is highly unusual for a league where coaches are given very little time to prove themselves, and are often dismissed far too quickly. 

There's no question that Maurice is a highly experience coached, but he has had success just twice in his long career, reaching the Stanley Cup Final with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2001-02, and reaching the third round in his second tour of duty with that team, in 2008-09. Beyond that, his long NHL coaching career has been relatively free of achievement, whether basing that on subjective opinion, or on my coaching metrics.

The Jets are hardly alone in their gambles behind the bench. Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) put together the following chart of which teams have made the greatest commitment to their head coach, in terms of seasons. The biggest surprises are Vancouver and Arizona, who boldly invested four seasons in coaches with very limited experience.


I suppose we haven't mastered the statistical analysis of coaching, but even the primitive stats we do have raises serious doubts about going off the board, as fashionable as it may be. And, even if teams do want to go off the board, I'm surprised that Philadelphia is the only team that went to the NCAA for address their coaching needs.

Stars, Wings, PP, and the KHL

posted Sep 5, 2017, 10:05 AM by Robert Vollman

I have a couple of Twitter polls this weekend, and they focused on specific teams, Dallas and Detroit.

The Stars made a lot of improvements this off-season, first and foremost of which was their new head coach, Ken Hitchcock. No slight against their last coach Lindy Ruff, who is now Alain Vigneault's assistant with the New York Rangers, but this is a huge upgrade. Based on my coaching metrics, which subtract a team's expectations (based on last year's standings) from where the team actually finished in the standings, Hitchcock is one of the most accomplished coaches of all-time.

The Stars also invested over $20.8 million in cap space in four players. They certainly seem to address the team's needs, but that's a lot of money. Based on about 1,500 votes on my first Twitter poll, most people feel that the goalie, Ben Bishop, will have the greatest impact.

Given how awful the team's goaltending has been over the past few years, it's not a surprise to see Bishop top the list. If he can achieve even league-average goaltending, it will be a huge step up and possibly enough for this high-scoring team to win the division. However, Lehtonen and Niemi were both perceived to be roughly league-average goalies before they joined the Stars, and they weren't good enough, so it will be an uphill battle for Bishop.

Obviously, the team's defensive play has to have been at least a minor factor in their underachieving goalies. Even to the eye test, they have had one of the league's worst blue lines for some time. It's hard to predict if Methot will help, because he was more of a No. 4 guy before joining Erik Karlsson in Ottawa, who has a habit of making his partners look like a million bucks. At age 32, he might go back to being just a No. 4 guy, or worse. 

However, the Stars do have a lot of young talent on that blue line that are now hitting their primes, between ages 23 and 25, just like John Klingberg. I mean, a lot. Between Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns, Julius Honka, Patrik Nemeth, and Jamie Oleksiak, there has to be at least a couple of players who step forward this year and start plugging those holes. If so, Bishop might do just fine. 

I'm sure Radulov will have a big impact, especially if he gets to play with the highly skilled Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. But, do they need more scoring? A lot of people would succeed on that wing. Martin Hanzal might be the more important player of the two, because he brings a more well-rounded game that can improve the team defensively. But, time will tell.

I also published a poll on the Detroit Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg just led the team in scoring for the fifth time in seven seasons, and by a whopping 20 points. But he's turning 37 on October 9. There has to be someone who will soon step up and overtake him as the team's scoring leader. But who? That's exactly what I asked Twitter, and here are the results (albeit with far fewer voters).


It must have been a good question, because that's a very tight pack. Plus, according to the Sports Forecaster magazine, Larkin will actually finish last of these four, with 46 points. They have Mantha first, with 54.

That sentiment is shared by the writers of the Athletic. Jack Han used my updated NHLe figures (among other stats) to demonstrate how Mantha has a higher ceiling than players like Drouin and Huberdeau, and it's hard to disagree with his logic. I mean, Zetterberg scored 68 points last year, which is bang-on with his five-year average (assuming he doesn't get hurt). If there's one player who has the upside to bust out past the 50-point range and exceed that, then it's probably Mantha. However, if Zetterberg slumps, and 55 points is enough to lead the team, then all bets are off, and it could be any one of these four players.

The following two posts are from a week ago, but I just wanted to close by bringing a couple of interesting findings to light. The first one is by Sean Tierney, who figured out which teams employ 4 forwards and 1 defenseman on the power play (in yellow), and which teams still go with two defensemen (in blue). As you can see, the former is the norm, and LA, Minnesota, Montreal, Arizona, Anaheim, and Chicago are really the only six teams that go with two defensemen most of the time.


Lastly, Don't Tell Me About Heart has apparently been digging into KHL data recently. He has the power rankings for their standings this season, and the monster St. Petersburg team is on top, even without Shipachyov and Dadonov, who signed with Vegas and Florida in the NHL, respectively. They still have players like Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, and Voynov, so they should be just fine!



Jagr, a new website, and projecting the standings

posted Sep 2, 2017, 9:56 AM by Robert Vollman   [ updated Sep 2, 2017, 9:59 AM ]

What is Jaromir Jagr worth? 

There's no real consensus on this question. In a recent Twitter poll, almost half of respondents figured he should be in the $2.0-$3.0 million range, but a significant minority felt that he should be in the same, $1.0-$1.5 million range as other veteran free agent forwards this summer, like Mike Cammalleri, Patrick Sharp, Jussi Jokinen, and so on. 

It's obviously a contentious issue, because a few people even took exception to the very question that Jagr could be worth less than $2.0 million. Well, sometimes the cold, objective eye of hockey analytics can provide a little bit of insight. What is he worth, based on the underlying numbers?

Years ago, I built a model to help establish each player's value, relative to their contracts. It involves capturing a player's performance in a single statistic (like GVT or WAR), and then establishing his current level of performance by taking a weighted average of the three most recent seasons, and then regressing it towards the league average (usually by just under 20%) to remove the impact of random variation. Then, a natural aging curve is applied, but that is obviously impossible in Jagr's case due to the lack of  historical precedent. Finally, the player's value is determined by comparing this end result to what a team could get (or needs to get) with the same cap space. If you want more detail, this is all explained in the opening chapter of Stat Shot.

From this perspective, Jagr is easily worth at least $2.0-$3.0 million. In fact, it's not ridiculous to suggest that he's still in the same, $3.5-$4.0 million range that he has been paid for the last three seasons.

A New Hockey Stats Website

In other news, I did a Reddit AMA this week, my third one. I got some good questions, so check it out.

In the comments, I learned of a new statistical hockey database called Icy Data. It has a lot of the standard stats you can get elsewhere, like Corsi and such, but it also has some interesting visualizations. Just to take one example, consider the penalties dashboard. Are you curious about which types of penalties are more common than others, how it has changed over time, and which players are drawing which types of penalties? There are some very interesting results.

Standings Projections

Starting with the 2013-14 season, I used to keep track of everybody's standings projections. In part, it was to get a sense of the mainstream expectations for each team. Whenever there was a significant disconnect between the conventional wisdom and my models, it was an opportunity to dig deeper.

Furthermore, keeping this information as a reference is a handy way of knowing which teams out-performed and/or under-performed their expectations to the greatest extent.

Well, Dominik Luszczyszyn of the Athletic gathered the crowd-sourced results, and here are the results. Does this conflict with your perspective to any great extent? In my case, I don't have any major reservations. There are certainly a few teams that are a bit too high or too low for my case, but by and large this looks to be quite reasonable. 


In all those years of tracking the results, I found that we can't really predict the standings any better than simply taking last year's standings. So, consider this more as an informative view of the mainstream perspective right now, and a useful frame of reference against which to compare teams at the end of the season.



What are your questions?

posted Jun 5, 2017, 2:21 PM by Robert Vollman

I have a question and answer section at the end of every book, and now is the time to submit your questions.

Time-specific questions, like those involving current teams and players, will likely be covered in Hockey Abstract 2017, which will be released August 1.

Timeless questions may be included in the next edition of Stat Shot, which is currently slated for September 2018.

All questions will need to be submitted no later than July 10, 2017. 

Email them to me, vollman at hockey abstract dot com, with the subject "Hockey Abstract Q&A." 

In your email, please make it clear if you would like to be credited with the question, if you would prefer using a pseudonym, or would like to remain anonymous. In the former cases, let me know if you'd like your email, twitter handle, and/or website mentioned as well.

I'll try to answer as many as I can, and thanks in advance for your submissions.

Getting a Job in Hockey Analytics

posted Nov 22, 2016, 9:09 AM by Robert Vollman   [ updated Nov 25, 2016, 1:27 PM ]

One of the temporary obstacles to the adoption of hockey analytics right now is that front offices don't always know how and where to find good analysts, and really good statisticians and programmers don't know how to get their work noticed. In time, this will change, but for right now it is a real problem.

I've been doing my part by putting teams in touch with good people that I know, and promoting everybody's work in my books, and everywhere else that I can.

That helped for a while, but I ran out of friends pretty quickly. Those who weren't snapped up in the 2014 summer of analytics were certainly gone by the end of 2015. Plus, I've been getting more and more calls from various organizations as interest in hockey analytics continues to grow.

That's why I opened things up in February, and invited everybody who might be looking for a future in hockey analytics to contact me, and let me know what they're looking for. Then, I can pass along the right opportunities to the right people, and give front offices even more options from which to choose.

As you can expect, the response was a little overwhelming, and hundreds of people reached out to me. Some people were just looking for a little bit of advice and maybe some part-time hobby work on the side, while others were deeply passionate about full-time careers in the sport.

It took me nine months, but after taking up to a dozen calls per week, I managed to follow up with everybody. It was very time-consuming, but it was also a highly rewarding experience. 

There were so few of us when I got my start over 15 years ago, and it's been wonderful to have so many engaging conversations with such passionate people this year. I managed to help a lot of them get a start, including several dozen who got audiences with NHL front offices, and quite a few who got full-time NHL jobs for this season.

It has been an educational experience for me as well. I got the opportunity to learn a lot about how teams are building their analytics departments, what kinds of opportunities are available for those in our field, what skills teams are looking for, and what people have done to get ahead.

I plan to write a complete chapter in my next book that includes everything I've learned, but the main key is to set yourself apart from the pack. Here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Create something.

Whether your write a paper or online articles, hold a conference, invent a statistic, build a website, participate in a manual tracking project, or start a podcast, it helps to create a name and an identity for yourself.

2. Network, and build up your contacts. 

Most jobs are not posted publicly, and those that are generally receive between 500 and 1000 responses. Either way, those who have contacts are those who hear about the jobs, and who get on the short lists.

3. Get some work experience.

Contact the junior, college, and minor-league teams in your area, and offer your assistance. Think outside the box, and contact player agencies, and third-party consulting companies too. Even if most of them ignore you, or even if it's part-time or unpaid, you only need one response to get started. 

4. Take yourself to the next level.

Whether you're into manual tracking, programming, or statistical analysis, take the time to master your craft. That could mean studying textbooks, using software and other technology, and getting lots of practise in order to complete a wider variety of tasks, completing them faster, and with greater accuracy (just like an NHL player would).

5. Build a portfolio.

When you get that meeting and/or interview, it helps to be prepared with examples of your work, even if it's just in one small area of the game. Make it something practical and memorable, and tailor it to the organization in question, if possible.

6. Get your financial house in order.

Quite frankly, it's shocking how little most of these jobs pay, compared to similar work in other fields. This is a by-product of how badly so many people want to work in hockey, and how many organizations aren't yet properly budgeted for analytics. It would be highly unfortunate to pass on a great opportunity because of debts, a high cost of living, or the inability to re-locate.

7. Don't be an ass on social media.

I have personally seen some golden opportunities get flushed down the toilet because someone was acting highly unprofessionally and disrespectfully on social media, usually by trashing players, front offices, journalists, or fellow statisticians. Most of the time, they didn't even realize that they blew a great opportunity. And for goodness sake, do not write about sex, religion, money or politics -- the last of which appears to be the hardest to resist!

8. Show, don't tell.

Whenever you see a statistician fail to make a point about Corsi or PDO, it's probably because they're telling others how it works, rather than showing them. Part of the appeal of player usage charts is that we're not telling the reader about zone start percentages, of quality of competition, or usage, or Corsi -- we're showing them. Likewise, don't go to a meeting or interview to tell someone what you can do for their organization, come prepared to show them. That might mean video, or a demonstration, or a chart, or some tables, or specific recommendations, who knows? But find specific ways to show them how you can help.

I'll add more tips as I think of them, so check back on this post every once in a while.

Complete List of Hockey Analytics Data Resources

posted Sep 15, 2016, 10:35 PM by Robert Vollman   [ updated Jun 7, 2017, 4:10 PM ]

Whether you're looking for standard information or something fancier, about teams or individual players, overall or in a specific aspect of the game, about the NHL or another league, in table format or in charts, the following list of links is intended to be a complete account of all known sources of hockey analytics data. 

Only data resources are included below, not analysis, and only those whose data is kept active. The list only includes data that can be viewed online, not those that require a download. There are also limited listings for statistical data that strays a little bit more into fantasy hockey and/or gambling categories.

If you're aware of a data resource that isn't included in this list, please contact me (vollman at hockey abstract dot com). 

Team Stats

Starting in 2007-08 with Behind the Net and Hockey Analysis, there are a number of sites that have zone percentages and team shot-based metrics like Corsi, Fenwick, SAT, and many of them are broken down and/or adjusted for factors such as score and manpower situation. Several of these sites allow you to look at these numbers in both regular season and the playoffs, over multiple seasons, between specific date ranges, and even specific types of games, like those that were decided in overtime. 

Note that slight differences can exist in the numbers if a site is a game or two behind another, if they include empty-net situations, and if they're examining all even-strength situations, or just strictly 5-on-5.
Individual Game Stats 

Looking for non-traditional data about a specific game, even while it's in progress? Drawn from information in the NHL game files, most of the following sites graphically portray where all the shots (and possibly other events) came from, and some contain a graphical time-lapse portrayal of each team's share of shot attempts and/or their chances of winning the game. A few of these sites even have shift charts for every player, and more specific information about player matchups, usage, and deployment.
Individual Player Stats 

The aforementioned websites for team statistics also have most of the same shot-based metrics for individual players, along with additional details like zone starts, quality of competition, on-ice shooting and save percentages, penalty drawing, ice time, and real-time scoring stats (RTSS). 

Just like with team stats, most sites have playoff data for all skaters and goalies, can be examined over multiple seasons and/or specific date ranges, can be broken down and/or adjusted for factors such as score and manpower situation, and isolated by such factors as position, rookie status, or nationality. In many cases the raw counts are supplemented by rate statistics (per game or per minute) and/or by percentage, and some stats are calculated relative to a player's teammates.  
Individual Player Odds and Ends

There are a few sites that contain some additional sources of interesting individual player information that goes beyond what's listed above. Some of this information isn't hockey analytics in the strictest sense, but rather good sources of related data.
Tools and Visualizations

Ever since player usage charts rolled out in 2011, displaying these kinds of non-traditional statistical data in graphical form has exploded in popularity. Beyond those that are already covered in other sections, here is where they can be found.
Salary Cap Data

The salary cap can be very complicated, and the following sites include more than just cap hits and term, but also a combination of pretty sophisticated views to study possible buyouts and qualifying offers, who is on professional tryout (PTO), needs to clear waivers, is eligibile for offer sheets, an entry-level slide, arbitration, or UFA status. 
Playoff Projections

The following websites use a variety of different statistical approaches to calculates the odds of each team making the playoffs, as well as their potential seeding, and the odds of winning the Stanley Cup.
The Draft

The NHL Entry Draft is unquestionably one of the more interesting applications for statistical hockey analysis. Expect this collection of useful data and tools to grow!
Other Leagues

Obviously, all of the above links apply to the NHL, but there are several sources of data for non-traditional stats in other professional hockey leagues. To keep it concise, only those with at least something more than plus/minus and faceoff percentages will be included here.

A Brief History of Hockey Analytics Conferences

posted Aug 24, 2016, 2:55 PM by Robert Vollman   [ updated Dec 21, 2016, 8:59 AM ]

To state that I'm passionate about the hockey analytics community is an understatement. From the moment I first conversed with Iain Fyffe in 2000, I was hooked on the idea of connecting with people who shared my interest. 

After a variety of email discussions with an ever-growing number of hobbyists, Iain organized the Yahoo Hockey Analysis Group in 2004, which introduced us to an even larger body of enthusiastic people. I can't even begin to recount what I learned from them, and how much I enjoyed those interactions.

1. The Edmonton Hockey Analytics Conference, May 24, 2014
Host: Rob Vollman

As the field was beginning to explode, it made sense to organize some events where we could all meet in person, share our work, and compare notes. That desire was further fueled when a small conference (that was really more of a glorified organizational meeting) held in Edmonton began with the somber news that the greatly admired Tore Purdy, who went by the pseudonym JLikens on his popular Objective NHL blog, had recently passed away. We may have lost the opportunity to meet him, but we were determined not to lose that opportunity with others.

2. The Calgary Hockey Analytics Conference, September 13, 2014
Host: Rob Vollman

Unofficially recognized as the first, the next Alberta Hockey Analytics Conference was a solid success. Chris Snow of the Calgary Flames was the opening speaker, other speakers and guests flew across the country on their own dime, and everybody was very generous in helping to recoup the relatively considerable costs of hosting the event at the Saddledome. It was a great event in its own right, and also demonstrated the appetite for these types of events, and the basic structure of those to come.

3. The Pittsburgh Hockey Analytics Workshop, November 8, 2014
Hosts: Andrew Thomas and Sam Ventura

The next great stride forward took place in Pittsburgh, courtesy of Andrew Thomas and Sam Ventura of War on Ice, the former of whom was one of the speakers in Calgary. This was the first conference held in the United States and the first one that was recorded (here's Part 1 of the Pittsburgh Hockey Analytics Workshop), and it established the new standard attendance level, at 200.

4. The First Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference, February 7, 2015
Hosts: Mike Schuckers and Dr. Shirley Mills

The next conference was hosted at Carleton University by Mike Schuckers, who was the keynote speaker at the Calgary conference, and Dr. Shirley Mills. This continues to stand out as the most memorable of all these conferences, because of how well organized it was, the star-studded lineup of speakers and panelists, the social events before and after, and the mainstream attention it garnered.

5. The D.C. Hockey Analytics Conference, April 11, 2015
Hosts: Arik Parnass and Robb Tufts

From one nation's capital to another, the fifth conference was held at the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies, right near the Verizon Center where the Washington Capitals were hosting the New York Rangers in a game with profound playoff seeding implications. In fact, it was so close that I was able to step away briefly to join John Walton in the press box and promote the conference on air. Building on the best traditions of previous conferences, the D.C. Hockey Analytics conference was available by live stream, had a number of great speakers giving more numerous but shorter presentations followed by Q&A panels, introduced breakout sessions in separate rooms and follow-up surveys, and wrapped it all up with a great social event.

6. The First Rochester Hockey Analytics Conference, October 10, 2015
Hosts: Ryan Stimson, Matt Hoffman, Paul Wenger

In what has since become an annual conference, the first Rochester Hockey Analytics Conference was built in the same tradition as the DC conference, with short presentations followed by panel discussions. Leveraging the results of surveys, this conference featured the widest variety of speakers in terms of their different backgrounds, perspectives, approaches, and levels of sophistication. Perhaps most notably, the list of speakers included more than one woman for the first time. The event was broadcast live, had a strong focus on grassroots manual tracking projects, and just had that sense that it was on the cutting edge, and taking that next big stride from the foundation established by the first five conferences.

7. The Second Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference, January 16, 2016
Hosts: Mike Schuckers and Dr. Shirley Mills

Almost overshadowed by the announcement that War on Ice would be shutting down, Ottawa was the first to make a hockey analytics conference an annual event. Just like the last year's, this event was known for being very well-organized and well-attended, with an incredible slate of speakers and panelists, and fun social events in the evening. They were also the first to secure some notable sponsorship for the event, as well as some additional mainstream coverage from CBC News and Radio Canada, and I was even pleased to play a role in arranging for the TSN Hockey Analytics program to broadcast its show live from Carleton University.

8. The Panthers Analytics Workshop (PAWS), February 13, 2016
Hosts: Brian Macdonald and the Florida Panthers

Even though this event was hosted by the Florida Panthers, it still deserves a place on this list for having the same grassroots feel as the others. The usual culprits were in attendance, although the speakers were organized almost exclusively into panels, and it had essentially the same structure, content, and style as the previous conferences. Hopefully, this event will be remembered as the first of several similar conferences hosted by NHL teams.

9. The Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference, April 9, 2016
Hosts: Tim Swartz, Oliver Schulte, Cam Lawrence, Josh Weissbock

Though hosted at Simon Fraser University by some if its professors and students, the Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference was a well-balanced partnership of academia, fan-driven groups like Hockey Graphs and Canucks Army, the local media, and even some front offices. As has become the tradition, the presentations were numerous but short, the presentations were recordedand blended in with several panel-driven discussions. The entire event was wrapped up with a social event.

10. The Second Rochester Hockey Analytics Conference, September 10, 2016
Hosts: Ryan Stimson and Matthew Hoffman

Coming up next is the second annual hockey analytics conference hosted in Rochester. As is the custom in this area, there will be many brief presentations, followed by Q&A panels. It's also noteworthy that one of the few remaining big names in hockey analytics will be in attendance, Eric Tulsky. Finally, one of the newest traditions that will hopefully catch on is the rec hockey game that is being organized to wrap things up.

11. Babson College Hockey Analytics Conference, October 1, 2016
Hosts: Luke Donoho, Rick Cleary, George Recck

Taking on the promotional title "the Long Change", Babson College, located near the location of the annual MIT Sloan Conference on Hockey Analytics, hosted the most recent hockey analytics conference. Speakers included Michael Schuckers, Michael Lopez, and Rob Vollman, among many others. There was a media panel, and breakout sessions for students and guests to get a hands-on demonstration of various new advances.

12. The Second Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference, March 11, 2017
Hosts: TBD

From the website: "The Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference (#VanHAC) is the largest hockey analytics gathering on the West Coast. The conference gives the hockey analytics community a means to show new ways to think about the sport we all love. VanHAC is organized by the community for the community. Our main goal is to strengthen the hockey analytics community by providing more opportunities to share knowledge and ideas, encouraging support and education for speaking at conferences, and increasing the visibility of developers, organizations, and companies within the community."

13. The Third Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference, May 6, 2017
Hosts: Mike Schuckers and Dr. Shirley Mills

Though specific details are yet to be released, it has been announced that the third annual Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference will take place at Carleton University on May 6, 2017. Judging from past events, it should be a great event.


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