Fancy that: Pens hire War on Ice’s Sam Ventura

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Perhaps there will be a sequel to 2014’s fancy stats summer?

It would be hard to top that this time around, but hardcore number-crunching hockey fans will likely take note anyway, as the Pittsburgh Penguins scooped up Sam Ventura, co-creator of War on IceThe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Ventura was hired as a “consultant responsible for analytics.”

The team seems especially excited to add a local, especially one like the 27-year-old, who recently earned a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.

“To have someone who grew up here in Pittsburgh, literally in our backyard, to have the skill set and knowledge base that Sam has, he seemed like the perfect fit,” Jason Karmanos told the Tribune-Review. “Once I met him and started talking to him, I knew that he was the perfect fit for our group here.”

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford seems to give advanced stats some serious respect extending back to his days running the Carolina Hurricanes (even if some situations worked out better than others in that regard).

Karmanos said that Ventura’s addition will “augment” the analytics arm in Pittsburgh, indicating that the team may do more in that area in the future.

Ventura’s hiring reminds one of the Toronto Maple Leafs snatching Extra Skater’s Darryl Metcalf last summer, although it sounds like there’s a chance War on Ice may function for some time. That said, Ventura’s venture shows that the “fancy stats” community can recover from big losses; perhaps Ventura may help the Penguins avoid more letdowns on the ice?