Numbers have always been an important part of sports—they provide both a timelessness (a box score from the 1930s isn’t dramatically different than one today) and a means to measure quality. I can take a look at a Yankees-Browns game from 1927 (most likely won by the Yankees) and almost recreate the game in my head. I may lose some of the nuance of the game, but I’ll have a decent idea of what happened (and no one will spill beer on me, which is nice).
Hits, Runs, RBI, FG%, TDs, PATs, etc. Each sport can be devolved down to its bare essentials: the numbers. For hockey, it is goals, assists, penalty minutes and the like. Those standard numbers, coupled with the “eyeball test” of a players’ skills (that is, scouts know an excellent player when they see one) comprise the criteria for what players make it to the next level, and what players have a lifetime of great stories about their time getting to the mid-Juniors.
There is a major problem in the stats, however—stats are kept by humans, and humans are limited by their own skills, opinions, and in some cases, biases about their home team’s stars.
Teams still want to SEE their players and prospects in action. Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill was quoted in USA Today saying that while they look at their prospects’ numbers regularly, they are highly cautious about taking them at face value because of the lack of consistent information. “Stats are kept by people in every rink around the league,” Nill said. “What you might think is a hit, I might not think is a hit. That changes the consistency of it.” He and his staff realize the game goes beyond the numbers.
“A little bit of it is the game, the way it’s played doesn’t always add up to stats,” Nill said. “There’s things that happen in the game that just happen because you’re dealing with a puck and ice.”
Bringing Prospects Closer to Prospective Teams
Seeing (even on tape or online) is believing. Previously, there have been two options: send a scout out on the road to the hinterlands of Northern Ontario to see a prospect, or ask for a copy of video from the junior, minor league or NCAA club. The challenge with these? Biases and time.
The scout may have opinions that differ from the parent organization, be annoyed that he or she had to travel so far, or any myriad of other reasons they’ve decided to nix a solid player. With videos, it’s time: someone has to dub a tape and pop it into the mail—time you don’t have when 29 other teams may be looking at the same prospect. One solution, available to our professional-team clients, is HockeyTV Pro.
HockeyTV Pro allows pro teams to watch ANY game streamed across the HockeyTV network (live or on-demand), edit highlights right online and export entire games or highlight packages into popular video files—download them, rather than having to keep them online. The solution is available through a simple annual subscription, and is now in use by more than half of the teams in the NHL.
The benefits are clear:
- Instant access to video for any player or game streamed on the network;
- The ability to supplement scouting reports before seeing a player in-person;
- The ability to download and edit video for prospects.
So it’s your call: send a scout to Moose Jaw, wait for video footage (which may be highly edited by the team forwarding it to you) or take full advantage of your HockeyTV Pro subscription. There’s really only one way to complement the stats you have with the observations made from watching in-game action, without the hassle of travel.
Written by, Tim Claus – Product Manager, HockeyTV