It all started when I was about 11 or 12, every Tuesday, I believe. This was the day NHL stats ran in the local papers. First thing that morning I'd be off to the store, before school, to make sure I could get a paper so I had my stats to study until next weeks stat paper came out. This is how it continued until the dreaded day that my Winnipeg Jets were taken away from me by big, bad, evil corporate goons.
Suffice to say, my days as a stat junky ended abruptly.
I'll be the first to admit, that once the Jets were gone and the pain subsided my NHL interest waned. In the late 90's I moved to Toronto, and there i was subjected to the media bombardment that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Though I started following the Leafs during this time, I was still pretty disinterested, so all I really read was main stream media opinions on them and watched the games with my local friends. That was enough for me because in all reality I didn't have the motivation to care.
Then the day came when the announcement came from True North Sports and Entertainment that they were purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers and relocate them to Winnipeg. The Jets were back, and my love for everything hockey came crashing into me like a bag of bricks.
The team was back, my need to know everything about our players came flooding back, just like the days of my childhood. Just before this glorious time I was introduced to Twitter, and began following Arctic Ice Hockey and The Pension Plan Puppets. This is where my thirst for statistics was going to start to be quenched. Narratives from local media just weren't enough.
When I first started looking into these "new" advanced statistics I was immediately overwhelmed by spreadsheets and numbers. I looked at these sites a lot and still do, my knowledge of "fancy" stats was and still is very limited. I was used to the olden days of goals, assists and plus minus, now I had to figure out Corsi, Fenwick and whatever the hell else was these stat-heads use. This task can be seen as 'too much work", but for me it's actually kind of enjoyable.
Thing is, during this journey, I suddenly realized that a lot of the things I was being told to believe weren't making as much sense anymore. Is it really worth having someone like Thorburn on the ice if the team is giving up twice as many goals as they are scoring on the ice? Does trying really, really hard equate to wins, or is the defense really responsible for a goalies save percentage? These are questions I wanted answered, and could only find these answers in one place; SB Nation. I seem to have gotten some answers, but the result was the end of my naivety. Arctic Ice Hockey ruined my pretty little ideas and ripped the rose coloured glasses clean off my face.
One day I will know if i should hate these guys for destroying my innocence, or thank them for opening my eyes to a whole new world of stats.