In the summer of 2014, many NHL clubs made headlines by publicly introducing new hockey analytics departments in their organizations. None did it louder than the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hired 29 year old stats-wiz Kyle Dubas as their Assistant General Manager.
And so it was dubbed “the summer of analytics.”
Like Major League Baseball’s stats revolution in the early 2000’s, advance hockey statistics have been met with a certain amount of resistance. While many hockey fans and analysts such as James Mirtle and Steve Burtch have been using advanced stats for years, some NHL teams and executives have been quick to dismiss analytics’ place in the sport.
Despite those who deny the value of analytics in sport (cough cough, Sir Charles, cough), the NHL recently announced that it will be adding “enhanced” statistics such as Corsi, Fenwick, PDO and zone starts to its website; with a larger unveiling taking place during a media event at Levi’s Stadium on February 20th (we’ll have more for you next weekend).
While the statistics mentioned above were more or less created for teams to evaluate individual player and team performance, the addition of these news stats to the NHL’s website is a clear attempt for the NHL to better connect with their avid fans.
After all, what better way to simulate the experience of being an NHL general manager than by providing the same (okay, similar) means of evaluation, right at their fingertips! And as offerings such as video analysis and wearable technology become more ubiquitous and improve, data will only continue to immerse fans and evaluators alike.
From the standpoint of the NHL’s digital content strategy, we know that there’s a premium being placed on interactive, easily repurposed social content – so we’re certainly expecting to see creative content being developed from the league, club, and player-level.
How this content materializes remains to be seen. But for now, the NHL has created a new product for its fans – one that will be interactive, authentic, and revenue generating via sponsorship and increased web traffic.
Photo Credit: Mikael Tigerström
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