Monday, March 03, 2008

Looking for some help

Hello, 'sphere.

I am a University student with too much to do this month for school, work (which is at school), and other aspects of life. Of course in that I am a student, now that I have a minute to myself that should be used for sleep, I am killing a little bit of time on the internet before bed. Does that sound dirty? Shit if I have the energy to notice ATM.

One thing I seem to remember reading on one of my most frequently visited blogs (LT? MC?) is a suggestion that for many hockey players, simply staying healthy for long enough after you've been drafted is a good indicator that you will someday get it together and help your team win hockey games. What I am looking for is the best way to tackle such a statement.

I am not a programmer. I can read a lot of code and make sense of the logic used but I have not written anything of any use in any language. As such, my main source of info tends to be manually scraping season-by-season data off of NHL.com and into Excel. This limits data to seasons played in this millennium.

At first I thought that ideally, you could take the first five hockey seasons after draft day for a draft class and simply count time spent injured. You could then take the five seasons after that, compare total points (for forwards) as well as year-to-year change in points to amount-of-time-spent-healthy. Maybe you'd find that forwards who were the healthiest tended to end up with the most points. Maybe you'd find that they tended to have the quickest acceleration to whatever their peak became. Maybe both, neither, etc.

My open question is two-fold. 1) What do you think of the method? IE arbitrary 5 season number, difficulty of finding out how long each player has been injured, etc... and 2) How would such a thing get accomplished?

Many thanks.

4 Comments:

Blogger Lowetide said...

I've referenced Bill James who always said if a pitcher could just stay healthy until he figured it out then he could find a way.

However, I think you're probably remembering Vic's line about hockey players hanging around long enough to get positive results (and he did say something about that very recently). Which makes sense.

As for your method, it rings true but I'd love to have a database of "post draft injuries" for my own selfish reasons (it's my opinion that a ton of what is called "draft mistakes" are really "horrific injuries" with recent examples being Doug Lynch and Jesse Niinimaki.

3/04/2008 9:45 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I can't think of any simple methodology, Showerhead. And I'm not sure if you're looking at players in general or just the kids.

The only idea I can suiggest; I think the simplest thing would probably be to just look at defencemen, because icetime per game is such a strong indicator of their value, especially if they play on decent teams.

You'd have to manually go through and look at the type of injuries as well. I remember someone on the boards looking at a bunch of players who had major knee injuries, and they were almost all terrible for at least a year after returning, but most had reclaimed their old results within a couple of season. Of course the extreme examples, like Reasoner's catastrophic knee damage, won't fit the pattern.

Core injuries, stomach and back problems, as well as concussions ... seems like most guys just never seem to recover fully from those.

OTOH, broken bones just seem like lost time, and then a few weeks to regain form.

It would be a lot of work, and a lot of googling, to put something like this together. That's probably why nobody has done it before, as far as I know. It would be cool to see how things shake out though.

3/04/2008 11:08 pm  
Blogger MikeP said...

Yep, I've never heard of a place from where you can programatically retrieve injury information. Sounds like a lot of slogging if you want to do it. (If you felt nice, you could then make your information available for others to update and extend. ;) )

What Vic says rings true though. Concussions, joint injuries are career killers. Broken bones (except for the worst, I expect) are just setbacks - "career extenders" as some dr said the other day.

3/05/2008 6:10 am  
Blogger Showerhead said...

LT: Thank you, and I think you're right about where I'm remembering the statement from. Lynch is a guy whose name comes up often and is probably the closest to home example of a player who make me want to try to come to accurate injury-related conclusions.

Vic: thank-you as well, especially about counting ice-time for defensemen. This is absolutely a good measure of their value and one I hadn't thought of. I was just going to ignore them :)

Vic and mikep: well, you've got me convinced there is a lot of manual labour involved in getting to the bottom of things. I absolutely do plan on putting the work in (and am capable of the obsessiveness it may require! :P) but it would definitely be a summertime project. If anyone else comes up with all the answers by then, I'll happily read them over and pontificate about them over some beer on a sunny beach somewhere!

3/05/2008 7:46 pm  

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