Commentary

Putting bad stats on ice

The nerds are coming to hockey and have the NHL's lame numbers in their sights

Updated: April 7, 2011, 12:11 PM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine
Michael Grabner Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesAdvanced stats will tell you that Michael Grabner's value extends beyond his goal totals.

Hockey metrics are today where sabermetrics were about 20 years ago, with a far-flung group of mostly amateur researchers offering stats that shed light on true value while destroying old biases. Unfortunately, most NHL fans, not to mention coaches and media types, seem to have little use for the newfangled numbers. Puckheads, I beseech you: Get with the program. Don't do it to keep up with your enlightened baseball and football brethren, but because your traditional stats -- goals and assists and such -- do a terrible job of explaining what makes a player great and a team win.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.