This has been the summer of teams publicly throwing their support behind advanced statistics as a tool worthy of inclusion in their internal evaluation process. However, advanced statistics are nothing new, they’re just arguably becoming more mainstream.
Teams like the Kings have been using them for a while and former Los Angeles assistant GM Ron Hextall felt that it played a role in the franchise’s run of two Stanley Cup championships in three years.
“It’s not because of it,” Hextall, who is now the Flyers’ general manager, told the Courier-Post. “It’s one part of the puzzle. You’ve got a big puzzle that’s 100 percent. Maybe it’s a 5-percenter or a 7-percenter, but 5 or 7 percent, whatever it may be, when you look at how close the league is, it does mean something. When you’re making decisions, it’s a tool. If it’s your primary decision maker, you’re gonna be in a lot of trouble.”
In other words, in a league where the salary cap has led to parity, any small advantage can be important. Of course, with more teams putting an emphasis on them, that edge could be neutralized so long as franchises adopting them don’t go to the other extreme.
“Hockey’s not a static game,” Hextall added. “Baseball is. Baseball, I think it can be used as more of a tool. I think hockey might get there, but we’ve got work to do.”
That being said, Hextall has interest in what baseball has done with advanced statistics and he will continue to encourage the investigation and growth of the field in hockey in the hopes that Philadelphia might gain a small, but important edge over the competition.