There has been speculation in the past that the Flames are ahead of the curve in the NHL when it comes to the use of Advanced Stats. An article in the Globe and Mail identified the Flames along with the Penguins, Bruins, Sabres and Lightning as being at the forefront in hockey.
Jay Feaster hired a mysterious man in the background in 2011, Chris Snow.
A lot of speculation circulated around his job title of "Director of Video and Statistical Analysis" which had some wondering exactly what Chris does in the background. Mathematical wizard, Internet guy, video editor, Billy Bean's hockey version of Paul DePodesta?
This Flames video sheds some light on what is going on, although a lot of detail is not there nor would it be expected to be. Snow does not appear to be a DePodesta but rather a guy who is building a extensive video database for the Flames for use by hockey eyes throughout the organization whether it be players, coaches or management such as Weisbrod and Feaster.
Even the Moses on the mountains of Advanced Stats who come down from on high to deliver the Commandments of Hockey Analysis will all defer to direct observation from a trained eye. In short the trained eye who actually watches the game and player, has the advantage over the guy just looking at numbers.
High end stats gurus will acknowledge that even the numbers defer to a trained eye's evaluation. As Snow goes on to explain, the PUCKS system is a Video Database system that logs video of events. Originally designed as a coaching tool in baseball, the Flames are making use of it in a much broader way.
Drafting, trades, analysis and so forth and this is going to continue.
In Snow's own words after the jump...
At the Draft
Not surprisingly the Flames do not tip their hand on any of the details of formulas and various data sets that they may build personally from the PUCKS system.
Snow identifies 15 teams that use the PUCKS system currently and about 5 that are delving into deeper areas of using the data in more advanced ways.
The Flames are also a team that uses it from top to bottom. For M&G readers this will likely be taken as a positive sign that they are taking this tool and using it in more creative or "advanced" ways. The details remain unknown but they are building their own databases on players.
It will be used at the Draft this year and this is clearly another new feature that Feaster has brought to the Flames.