We’ll be leading the league in digging for information. We will have all the information we need on all of the players we need. - Flames general manager Brad Treliving
CALGARY, AB -- When a reporter brought up the usage of advanced stats at Brad Treliving's introductory press conference, the Calgary Flames new general manager nervously glanced to his right before answering.
"If I say yes, Burkie might punch me, right?" he said before chuckling.
Analytics and advanced statistics have become somewhat of a polarizing topic within the hockey community and the common thought floating around is that Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke is ardently against them.
That, however, is a misnomer according to Burke.
"Let’s get the record straight on that," he said at the press conference. "The first analytics system I see that will help us win, I’ll buy it. And I’ll pay cash so that no one else can use it. I’m not a dinosaur on that. What I think happened is, this one quote from the MIT conference has been broadcast all over where I said, ‘Statistics are like a lamppost to a drunk, useful for support but not for illumination.'
"I also think that people confuse statistics and arithmetic and mathematics with analytics. The analytics, to me, are, ‘Can you take data and do some predictive work that will help me draft or trade better?’ I haven’t seen a system that comes close to doing that. Statistical analysis about face-offs and where guys play, we use that all the time and we’ve been using it for 20 years."
Much like Burke, Treliving is a proponent of gathering and evaluating all types of information. He wants to sift through as much data as he can so that he can form the most comprehensive assessment on players.
"What I believe in is information. That’s our capital in this game. You’re always trying to find information. Players histories, background, all these types of things. The more information, I think, that you can collect, it helps you making decisions.
"We did some things in Phoenix – I know analytics is the catchphrase here – I guess it would be an analytical approach in some respects. To me, it gives you something to look at. It gives you another little piece."
Treliving will inherit a variety of hockey operations staff members with his new role, including someone who is very familiar with statistical work.
Chris Snow is the Flames director of video and statistical analysis. He is responsible for the complete and comprehensive planning, implementation and oversight of the club’s video and statistical data mining programs including designing, developing and implementing a proprietary data base of hockey information for use by the club.
Snow has also integrated the data-based video system PUCKS into the team’s coaching, player preparation, scouting and planning processes.
With Snow, Treliving not only gets someone who is heavily invested in analyzing statistics, but someone who has worked in a number of roles in the industry.
Snow spent four seasons as Director of Hockey Operations for the Minnesota Wild where his responsibilities included analyzing team rosters and cap commitments for the purpose of strategic roster planning, preparing for contract negotiations and arbitration, assisting in day-to-day hockey administration and CBA interpretation, and coordinating the team’s summer development camp.
Snow will be just one of many members of the organization tasked with gathering, analyzing and interpreting as much information as the hockey operations department can get their hands on.
According to Treliving, the team will make a name for itself off the ice with it's diligence and dedication to unearthing all sorts of material.
"We’ll be leading the league in digging for information," he stated. "We will have all the information we need on all of the players we need."