Saturday, November 17, 2012

Buckeye Shutout, CBA Armageddon?, Money Ball

OSU taking on Northern Michigan
Last night Senior Goal Tender Brady Hjelle pitched a shut out against Northern Michigan as the Buckeye Defense stifled the Wildcats, limiting them to 1 (one) shot on goal in the first period, and 20 shots in the entire game. The Buckeyes were paced by a first period goal by 5-10, 185 lb Junior Travis Statchuk with the assist to Ryan Dzingel, and a third period power play goal by Max McCormick, with assists by Tanner Fritz and Ryan Dzingel.  The Sophomore Dzingel, a 7th round pick by Ottawa in the 2011 NHL entry draft seems to show up on the Buckeye score sheet with regularity.  Hitch would have loved this game.  Not a lot of dangling going on, just solid defensive hockey.

With all that said, this game left a little room for hockey related discussion, and our topics ranged far and wide.  One observation my buddy Bill made was that it looks like the time for meeting in the middle on the NHL collective bargaining agreement is rapidly drawing to a close.  Should that window close, then the outcome of the negotiations will end up being cast in terms of 'winners' and 'losers'.  Frankly, I don't see either side getting to that point without jettisoning the 2012-13 season.  And, I submit to you, that the players didn't hire Don Fehr to 'meet in the middle' or to 'lose'.  Part of the question I have in my mind involves whether the 2013-14 season would also need to be sacrificed to determine 'winners' or 'losers'.  If the owners cave to Fehr, he is going to own them like he has baseball owners for years to come.  But right now if Fehr is telling the players that the longer you wait, the better the deal, he is right so far, with the owners softening their stance on many issues.  I don't really care who 'wins' or who 'loses', but if we go back to a Don Fehr utopia where Detroit and New York have 90 million dollar payrolls, and the CBJ have a $28 million dollar payroll, I have to wonder how long I would remain engaged in the sport.  If Don Fehr is the 'winner' he needs to make it his business to take care of the small market teams.

Its cool having a pep band at the hockey game
One of the things we also talked about was the book Moneyball (thanks Wikipedia!) and the fundamental notion of asking the scouts the question 'are we measuring the right things?'.  I haven't read the book, its been added to the 'to do' list, since it looks like there will be time for lots of reading this winter, but I understand the concepts.  With Puck Rakers reporting that the CBJ are having their annual amateur scouting meeting two months early, so that John Davidson can meet the troops and figure out how we are assessing talent.  Having Davidson, who is familiar with how St. Louis assesses talent, combining his know how with how the CBJ assess talent, it is to be hoped that our talent assessment process will be enhanced, especially with a very rich, deep draft available in 2013.  Also knowing that we have 3 first round picks, and a second round pick to use in this draft.  You are looking at selecting the core of our NHL team for a long time to come.

So you get back to the Moneyball question, and are you looking at the right things.  I think one thing that the hiring of Craig Patrick has instigated is a closer look at the character of the players, which I think is important due to the intensely long, mentally challenging aspects of the NHL season, not to mention the playoffs.  Patrick and Davidson go way back, to the point where they played together in St. Louis, and Patrick coached Davidson on the Rangers.  I think this is a big advantage for our franchise, and the one huge benefit of the lockout for the CBJ is the time for these guys to mold our talent assessment program, which has seen a lot of turn over in the last year.  In Moneyball, the point was that you are monetarily challenged compared to your opponents, so you have to spend your money on the things that really count in terms of wins and losses.  I think measuring hockey is a lot harder than measuring baseball that way because baseball has incremental stops and starts of each pitch, at bat, and inning.  Hockey has more flow to it.  How do you measure change of possession?  One would think that measuring stupid turnovers at the blue line would be an important statistic.  Who cares if your face off percentage is great at center ice?  What about in your own end with less than 2 minutes to play, when the importance of possession is magnified?  I think most hockey talent assessors have some level of intuitive assessment of this kind of thing.  What about some hard numbers?  I think that defensive performance is especially difficult to measure.  It is more of a gestalt kind of assessment, with shiny things like goals and assists tacked on to make you overpay for defensemen.  Ryan Murray is a defenseman you have to assess in that fashion.  He doesn't necessarily have the big booming shot, but he is pretty smooth defensively.  How do you measure that?

But I digress.  The bottom line is that the Buckeyes take on Northern Michigan tonight at the Schott.  It will be a good time to survey the junkies, because the puck should drop late in the fourth quarter of the football game.


1 comment:

  1. From Fehr's public comments about the need for meaningful revenue sharing, I'm not entirely convinced that his running roughshod over the owners for a little while would be all bad.

    And yes, Moneyball probably is the way to go here in Columbus. And yes, coming up with meaningful measurements for a game with so little structure in comparison to baseball has to be maddening. (Cue the "Go check out advanced stats, DBJ!" comments)


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