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Bruins homer TV guy Jack Edwards wants stats to stop being homeriffic

Nov 4, 2010, 7:58 PM EDT

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Whether you love him or he makes you want to jab Q-tips in your ears to make the noise stop, Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards is, at the very least, an interesting character. He’s also a ruthlessly pro-Bruins announcer on the broadcast so if you’re watching the game as a fan of the Bruins opponents chances are you’re not going to be too happy. Such homerism can be endearing in its own way if you’re a Bruins fan though and Edwards has become a bit of a cult favorite in Beantown because of it. It’s also pretty amusing when Edwards is either cackling at a downed opponent or citing American colonial history when describing a Bruins victory. It’s both festive and it makes you think you’re on another planet.

That’s what makes Edwards’ column today about wanting statistics in arenas that aren’t Boston to be more truthful to how the game played out rather funny to read. In typical Jack Edwards fashion, he’s calling for a revolution in how stats are kept at games. Where’s the fife and drum corps to provide the soundtrack for this rant? Give us liberty or give us death, Jack Edwards.

Pittsburgh assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald (Billerica boy and Bruin in the 2005-06 season) used to stare in bewilderment at the “Event Summary” sheet. After having thrown his body around with abandon on virtually every shift, he would board the bus shaking his head, saying, “How can I have just one hit in the game?” Most of the time, the answer was as simple as this: NHL stats are in the eyes of the beholders, and most of the beholders are beholden to the home teams.

Nowhere is that more blatant than Buffalo.

For Wednesday night’s event summary of a 5-2 game that was nowhere near as close a battle as the score, go to this link.

If the NHL wants its statistics to withstand even mild scrutiny, it needs to have annual formal training of every off-ice official — to do it all at once for everyone in the Eastern Conference and then to duplicate the presentation and execution of the teachings for everyone in the Western Conference.

With all that bluster that Edwards is rather famous for, he’s got a pretty good point here although it’s generally accepted with baseball-like old-time nostalgia that the home team is going to get the benefit of the doubt from the scorekeepers when it comes to things like shots on goal.

With statistics becoming more of a big deal for fans and team executives alike, keeping stats accurate is going to take a little bit of time to get it right. Having a small army of staff on hand to try and track everything is asking a lot especially when you’re not exactly rolling in the dough to do it. When you’re tracking time on ice, shots on goal, scoring chances, and all sorts of other intricate numbers it can make your eyes go crossed.

Taking a nod from baseball and deepening the kinds of numbers you’re tracking so you can better understand what players can and cannot do on the ice is a good thing but if everything is done with a wink and a nod towards giving the home team a little bit of a boost, it’s more of a hindrance than anything. It also doesn’t do the home team any good if your stats are juiced and you’re run off the ice by the road team.

  1. theolgoaler - Nov 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    How the heck does any off-ice official track actual shots on goal? What with blocked shots (no shot on goal), wide shots the goalie grabs anyway (not supposed to be a shot on goal), and deflections, there’s no way any human can see all the shots “that would have been goals were it not for the goaltender.” (I won’t mention “scoring chances” when the shooter rips one off the glass…) If the off-ice officials had access to TV replays, they might have a chance to keep track… I strongly suspect teams keep their own shots/hits/blocks/time-on-ice stats from video.

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