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Analytics just piece of puzzle to Leafs’ Dubas

Jul 28, 2014, 10:16 PM EDT


The Toronto Maple Leafs caught the hockey world’s attention when they hired Kyle Dubas to be an assistant general manager. Dubas, who previously served as the general manager of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, stands out from the crowd, both due to his age (28) and his advocacy of analytics.

The usefulness of advanced statistics in hockey has been heavily debated in recent years, but teams seem to be gradually moving towards accepting them as another evaluation tool. The fact that the Maple Leafs, a franchise which has previously been criticized for ignoring analytics, brought Dubas on board makes him an embodiment of that philosophical shift, at least to an extent. However, Dubas doesn’t see himself as just that stats guy.

“People trying to determine whether I’m a hockey guy or an analytics guy, I mean, the reality of it that I’m someone whose worked in hockey my entire life that over the past number of years has begun to develop a usefulness for analytics that have really helped us (with the Greyhounds) over time,” Dubas said in an interview on Marek Vs. Wyshynski. He added, “It’s a piece of the puzzle, it’s not the whole secret sauce or anything like that … It’s been a big help to us in reducing uncertainty and just gathering more information. It’s not a one-way or the other proportion.”

Dubas believes that anything that happens on the ice, so long as it can be clearly explained, can potentially be quantified. He also doesn’t buy into the argument that analytics don’t work in fluid sport like hockey.

“You can kind of reach and track a bunch of different things that aren’t really mainstream yet and I think it all has value,” Dubas said. “It’s just a matter of … trying to find out which pieces of data can help us to eliminate uncertainty and which ones are maybe not what we thought they were.”

It’s not a substitute for watching the game and scouting players that way, but he feels the information that analytics provides him with does enhance that process.

You can listen to the full interview below:


Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM

Babcock on analytics: ‘I love the information’

  1. kingsfan93 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    For anyone that has seen the movie “MoneyBall”, well this guy Kyle Dubas reminds me of it. I don’t know why, just does.

  2. blomfeld - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:33 AM



    summary: this ‘BS’ has been going on for millennium …

  3. dolphincult - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    ok blomfeld. u have now officially become the local posting idiot

  4. nyrnashty - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Not a huge fan of analytics in hockey, but that’s just my opinion. I can see it in baseball since it’s a slow sport and players/management have more time to react, but not sure how it fits in hockey. You already know who the best players are taking faceoffs in the D zone, O zone, at any time of the game. The coach already has his mind made up due to being around players everyday and knowing them. The game just moves too fast for this concept to be useful in hockey. Like I really need someone to tell me if my forward is having a hard time accepting a breakout pass in recent games, or the D man doesn’t like going into the corners when certain power forwards are on the ice :). Hockey people already see everything a player does, or doesn’t do…maybe we’re just smarter than front office people in other sports.

    • hockeydon10 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      It seems like the use wouldn’t be during the game or even during a stretch of a couple weeks. It’s more of a thing where the team reacts and chooses a direction for UFAs, leverages it for RFA contracts, Trade Day acquisitions and so forth. It’s something that used as a whole season or career basis, not on a minute by minute basis. When a team sees a guy with good possession numbers on a horrible team that might lead them to be more interested.

      Of course it’s not the end-all, be-all. It’s just another thing to use coupled with all the other information. To rely too heavily on those numbers would be foolish. Just as ignoring them entirely would be foolish.

  5. adamal17 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    I think it has a place in hockey…but a very small place. In comparison to baseball there is one huge difference that comes in to play; interaction between opposing team members. You could statistically have all of the best +/- or shot blocking guys on one line and be great in practice or against team A but the fact that all an opposing coach has to do is change one thing on their lineup to put a wrench in that plan. Baseball is great for this…balls and strikes and on base percentage. But when you put the brute force of Zdeno Chara up against the speed and intelligence of Marty St. Louis most of the time the brute force finds a way to prevail. Game play and interaction between your team and the other team really mess up analytics with their being such a difference in the 18 players that each player interacts with each game. Maybe for shot blocking, assists and possibly shot/pass percentage it would be good; but even then one alpha player could screw that up for the other team. They’ll have a spot in the sport…but nothing like baseball. That sport has so many different statistics that surface each year it makes my head hurt.

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