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Oilers Launch Hackathon 2.0

by Jessica McPhee / Edmonton Oilers


If you listen carefully at any pub in Edmonton, you’ll likely hear a group of passionate Oilers fans talking about their team. Now the Oilers Hackathon 2.0 is giving fans a chance to look behind the scenes at the analytics that power the game to give our passionate devotees the opportunity to contribute to the team’s success.

Hockey pundit, Oilers aficionado and an active online blogger, Ryan Batty, was immediately interested when he caught wind of the Oilers Hackathon.

“The access to the information itself is interesting,” said Batty. “To take two things you like and mix them together and hopefully learn something more, it enhances both aspects. I look at hockey differently now having done a bit of [analytics].”

In the 33 years the Oilers have played in the NHL, countless pieces of statistical information have been collected on the team and their opponents that cover every miniscule detail of the game. Like Peter Brand’s character in the movie Moneyball, people are starting to pay increasing attention to these statistics in an effort to solve the questions behind the game.

The Oilers challenge for Oil Country in the newly launched Hackathon 2.0 is to conjure up the proper methodology to solve one of four questions the team’s analytics group has created. Naturally you’ll need the statistical information to back-up your formula and that’s why the Oilers are opening their information vault to anyone with an analytical mind and a love of hockey.

“The organization has been dabbling in analytics for well over a year,” said Oilers President, Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe. “We got really excited about the idea of engaging our hockey fans who might have expertise; we want to tap into the intelligence out there.”

The Oilers analytics team is backed by Edmonton-based Dark Horse Analytics who’s worked with the team for a few years. Dark Horse, along with the Oilers and a group of professors, will be grading the metholodgy and validity of the Hackathon’s submissions. When asked what the Hackathon judges are looking for, Dark Horse Analytics Principal, Dan Haight, gives this hint.

“It’s not just the accuracy; it’s the value of the results. It has to be something that will help the Oilers achieve their goal which is to create another dynasty.”

While Ryan Batty is eager to get started on his entry, he knows he’ll have some competition that’s perhaps a little too close to home. In talking with his wife about the Hackathon, she too was quick to express interest.

“We talked briefly about doing it together; but she’s not going to be receptive to me doing what I want and I’m not going to take her suggestions at all,” said Batty with a mischievous grin on his face.

They’ve resigned themselves to entering on separate ballots. “It’s going to have to be this way,” added Batty.

In addition to bragging rights, the grand prize is an Oilers fan’s dream: the opportunity to have a seat at the Oilers analytics team meetings to help solve all the future analytics quandaries. The prospect of being part of that team is more than enough to motivate Batty.

“To see how the process works, understand what goes on behind the scenes and what all goes into to making the roster decisions, that alone would be quite interesting to see.”

Online registration is open until December 21, 2012 and the participants will have until February 15, 2013 to submit their methodology to the competition. ENTER THE OILERS HACKATHON 2.0

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