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Feudin' with Hockey's Murray Chass

Fun With Stu Hackel

Stu Hackel is a hockey writer for Sports Illustrated and the New York Times. Up until Feburary 8th I had NOT A CLUE who he was, or if he had any relevance to the sport of Hockey and the NHL. After reading about a dozen or so of his articles, I pretty much now know why. He's a fine writer, don't get me wrong, and when he does legwork (such as some works on concussions and such) it turns out ok; but that doesn't mean the other words he puts down on paper aren't DUMB.

On Wednesday Hack-el posted a write-up regarding which stats STUART thought the NHL should start keeping. This was promptly responded to by Gabriel Desjardins, the creator of the "advanced" NHL stats site and its subsequent blog, Here's what Gabe concluded about Stu's MAGICAL ideas on stats:

"So what do we have overall? Stu wants nine stats recorded. Four of them are already available on A proxy is recorded for two others. Two others are available on ESPN and could be hacked together in a matter of minutes. The last one is of dubious value.

I guess there's only one thing I think Stu Hackel "ought" to do: run a search on the googles for the stats you want and see if they exist." - Gabriel Desjardins (2/8/12)

HAHAHA. When I saw this, I literally had to contain myself at an absolutely BRUTAL dinner for possible interns, and I could not wait to comment when I got home. Below is a picture and my comment, along with an ORNERY response from none other than the Stu-man himself:



In light of this response, I have decided to imitate one of my favorite weekly articles on the Internet(s), Fun With Peter King by Drew Magary (latest here). Let's give it a run, SHALL WE? (Bold text denotes Stu's writing from the article itself)

By its nature, hockey is not a game that is easily reducible to numbers.

Even though numbers are just counting, and that's how we keep score to see whom wins. NERDS NEED NOT APPLY.

Stats not only have their downside on the entertainment front, they can mislead about a player's real value.

Yes, because by adding more information to a conversation about a player with Stu outside of "he LOOKED fast" or "WHAT a pair of calves on that guy" puts Stuuuu to sleep faster than three chardonnays and TBS movie re-run on a Saturday night.

And sometimes numbers lie

I feel so bad for numbers and stats at this point. First they're boring and now they LIE?? These numbers are complete losers.

There are a few dedicated fans who compile all sorts of exotic stats on their own apart from the ones the league keeps

Wait a second... we have stats that are considered EXOTIC now? And here so far I thought stats were:

1) Not easily applied to Hockey

2) Boring


And yes, these crazy stat keepers are able to watch every EXOTIC minute of every EXOTIC game. It's actually a secret government project in the US, meant to keep a stigma around the NHL that some of its fans are WEIRD; therefore keeping the league in the #4 position amongst pro sports.

I noticed recently that the site allows fans to look back at what the league standings were at any point during the season.

I'm actually excited to use this after the season to show Wild fans how their team went from First place to out-of-the-god-damn-playoffs while every logical person that understands luck in hockey told them so when they didn't want to believe it. UTTERLY SHOCKING that Backstrom/Harding (who are good goalies) couldn't keep up an unrealistic ~.945 save percentage the whole season. Who could interpret numbers this UNTRUSTWORTHY?

Otherwise this "statistic," which is actually just archiving a web page on a site, is completely fucking useless.

It's interesting to root around in those charts and uncover what's there, especially the full play-by-play of a game with tons of raw material. Here's the running sheet from the Coyotes' win over the Red Wings on Monday night. You'll find one for every game on the home pages of team websites, among the reports in the box with the last result. And you can see a more geographic representation of each game's action in the Ice Tracker.

YOU'RE GETTING WARMER, STEWIE. Where could all these EXOTIC stats come from, despite the NHL producing so much "raw material" for every game?

Still, while many stats are compiled, and as dry as they can make the game, there are some numbers I'd like to see the league track:

Despite the fact that Super Stu thinks stats + hockey = dryness like eating six saltines in a minute, he'll go on to waste moments of your life you will never get back with 752 words on stats that have already been created and are being/have been used inside of Front Offices across the league. I smell INNOVATION.


6. Time of Possesion: ... You'll still get a good handle on which teams are more skilled than others, and a team with a relatively low T.O.P. stat but lots of wins will be revealed as one that knows how to play well without the puck.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. As a hockey player since 4 years old I would NEVER want to be described as knowing "how to play well without the puck." Why? Because that means you suck. Still why?

A) By being good without the puck simply means you're probably in the right position. Congrats on NOT BEING A DUMBASS.

B) Because if you're described as being good without the puck, you most likely SUCK with the puck.

Oh and by the way, why is this sentence by the Stu-meister so HORRIBLY wrong? Well, the Wild have been one of the absolute WORST possession teams in the NHL all year long, even during their (premature) run for the Presidents Trophy! What happened? Backstrom/Harding fell back to earth, and the team went with them. OOPS.


So there you go: After starting this post complaining about how stats can take the fun and passion out of the game, I proposed a bunch of new ones.

Fuckin' right Stu! But wouldn't the numbers be BORING and DRY and MISLEADING LIARS if they started tracking them?

But I think these would actually add to our understanding of the sport.


By Rob and JMac