Leafs’ Carlyle sings a new tune about analytics

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It may still be Randy Carlyle’s way or the highway in Toronto – for now – but seemingly every story underscores a summer of change for the Maple Leafs.

Unfortunately, some alterations mean people losing their jobs. While the Maple Leafs made waves by hiring an analytics-oriented assistant GM in Kyle Dubas and instituting a stats-minded department this summer, they also completely revamped their public relations team, according to the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.

Perhaps that explains, in some way, why we’re hearing Carlyle speak in “advanced stats” terms a little more, then?

“Everyone talks about puck possession and we haven’t been any different. We just haven’t done a good enough job of it,” Carlyle said. “There’s all this craze about analytics and to say we haven’t used analytics would be incorrect.”

While some might (understandably) be skeptical about Carlyle’s comments, this brings up a potential point that may even be PR-related: it’s likely that NHL teams collect advanced stats but elect to play coy on such subjects. After all, why give up shop secrets when you could potentially hold competitive advantages?

MORE: Leafs go all-in on advanced stats

The most intriguing bit might be that Carlyle apparently sent out a memo to players this offseason:

(Just imagine the parody articles that may come from that concept …)

Whether Carlyle is more open-minded about deeper stats than he previously let on or not, it’s obvious that the Maple Leafs are at least spinning things a different way than they had in the past. It might take some time to see real differences on the ice – shuffling guys like Dave Bolland out and David Booth in might signal some steps in a different direction, but probably not leaps – yet it could be a fascinating situation to watch.

Of course, it would be a little more fascinating if everyone isn’t exactly on the same page, but Carlyle’s comments indicate he’s at least saying he’s willing to ponder “fancy stats.”