HIRING DELLOW: THE BOTTOM LINE

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The emergence and growth of analytics and advanced stats in the NHL has grabbed its share of headlines in recent months and that was the case again today with news the Edmonton Oilers had hired Toronto lawyer and avid fan Tyler Dellow to join their hockey ops department.

Senior columnist Mark Spector of Sportsnet, who, like several members of the MSM in Edmonton has engaged Dellow in debate over the years, wrote what I thought was a balanced and biting piece about that hire today. It’s a column that has since been pulled by Sportsnet.

I’m not sure why it was pulled, but Spector’s piece in many ways summed up my own reaction to the news Dellow, who has one of the sharpest minds and sharpest tongues in the analytics community — he has used both to get his points across over the years — is on the Oiler payroll. I’m going to run two snippets from the item that was spiked – one now, one later.

Wrote Spector: “Whatever your feelings on Tyler Dellow the Internet personality, they are the sidebar today, not the lead. 


“The lead is that a staunch Edmonton Oilers fan who made his resume with some groundbreaking advanced statistical work on his own website, then used Twitter to promote his expertise, has been hired by the Oilers to be their analytics guru.”

You can read the cached item in its entirety here.

BY THE NUMBERS

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I wrote an item on Oilersnation back on July 24 about analytics and advanced stats after the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Kyle Dubas as an assistant GM. It reads, in part:

The use of advanced stats has come a long way even since I was asked about them in 2008. It’s an evolving field of study with refinements being made on an almost daily basis. There’s a long way to go to sort the meaningful from the meaningless, but teams committed to doing so already and those in the process will have a leg up on stragglers who don’t.

There are a lot of people, many of them right here in Edmonton, doing the kind of work that pushed Dubas into the spotlight with the Maple Leafs this week. The Edmonton Oilers are among the growing number of teams taking advantage of that brain power. There are more hires to come.

That next hire didn’t take long. I feel today, in the wake of the Dellow news, as I did when Dubas was unveiled by the Maple Leafs. There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s real value to be found in advanced statistics as a tool in assessing players, especially regarding long-term trends.

The trick is separating the meaningful from the misleading. That’s a work in progress and one being taken on by a growing number of NHL teams. Teams that don’t explore and employ advanced stats to supplement their hockey ops departments are destined to be left in the dust. There’s information to be had, and every advantage in the big money game the NHL has become matters.

The Oilers have embraced the use of advanced stats in recent months. If they haven’t actually solicited and paid for Dellow’s work, they’ve most certainly been aware of it while employing other people in the analytics community. Coach Dallas Eakins is a believer in the numbers. So, too, GM Craig MacTavish. A team that has missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons as the Oilers have needs absolutely every edge it can get. Dellow has been hired to provide exactly that.

THE BOTTOM LINE

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One of the distractions for old MSM types like me – although I barely qualify as that anymore – is that Dellow is a polarizing figure. He has taken his share of pokes at a lot of members of the Edmonton media corps, many of them gratuitous, in my opinion. Like Spector, I blocked Dellow on Twitter a long time ago – that’s not a rarity for me – not because of the message he delivered but because of the sometimes condescending way he did it.

He’s also taken some pretty good runs at Edmonton management and coaching over the years, so nobody can accuse Dellow of sweet-talking his way into the job he just landed with the Oilers. He’s bitten them as often as he’s wagged his finger at MSM types slow to see the statistical light he’s been shining on the game for years.

It’ll be interesting to see how Dellow interacts with the hockey people and media folks he’s dealt with from afar in the past. The bottom line for me is that what Dellow does should stand or fall on its own merit. He’ll certainly get the chance to make a difference within Edmonton’s hockey ops department, even if he’ll do so mainly from Toronto. A lot of people are waiting to see how that goes.

For the final word on that, I’ll cite something from the Spector piece that evaporated today.

He knew everything about the game from his spot outside the circle. Now he is inside, with a chance to prove how smart he’s always said he is.
Godspeed, Tyler. This is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Sportsnet hold the TV broadcast rights to Oilers games, yes?
    When’s the last time a rights-holder geniunely criticized a team?
    Of course it got pulled.
    The Ghost of Bill Tuele lives on with this thin-skinned, basement-dwelling organization.
    Enjoy the meteoric rise to 27th overall on the back of Fapstats (TM) Oiler fan.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Right.

      Kevin Lowe picked up the phone to call Roger’s Media bigwig, Keith Pelley.

      KLowe: Keith, either you shutdown that blog piece that idiot Spector wrote, or we are walking and taking all the other 29 NHL teams with us. $5.2 BILLION may seem like a lot of money but when it comes to our new consultant that 5% of our fans actually have actually heard of before today, well ….. there needs to be a line in the sand.

      Pelley: Gee, sorry Kevin I never realized what Spec said would rile you guys up. You want it gone, it is bounced! I mean you DO have six rings ….

      I am sure that is EXACTLY how that went.

      TROLL.

  • Truth

    I like the hiring. He’s outspoken, tells it like it is, and is typically correct in his assertions (for what can be quantifiable). If he is a pompous ass I couldn’t care less.

    The best case scenario is that Dellow helps the Oilers climb from their current position near the bottom of the standings. Worst case they remain the same as before the hiring. He only provides the coach and GM with information, what they do with it is up to them.

    Plus, his strong recommendation of taking the under on total points for Toronto this season won me a few bucks. Now I’m hoping he is right about Colorado next year…

  • The Soup Fascist

    Not sure why Spector’s piece was pulled either.

    It was certainly a bit consdescending with the cracks about Mom’s basement and the comment about Dellow proving how smart he always says he is. But opinion pieces are not supposed to be vanilla. They portray the writer’s … well … opinion.

    And to be fair, Spector did disclose that he and Dellow had their battles, all the while giving him his due as one of the pioneers of the “fancy stats” and I took the overall theme as a grudging admiration for Dellow’s intelligence and work ethic – while balancing it with a certain amount of disdain for @MC79’s attitude (maybe “persona” is a better word).

    I don’t think their was anything libelous stated and if anyone was expecting Spector to be whole-heartedly glowing about the appointment, well that would have been hypocritical.

    Funny the word you used was the first word I thought of – balanced. I don’t always agree with Spector, quite the opposite, but there was absolutely no reason to pull the offering, IMO.

  • 15w40

    The only stat that matters is the WONGER FACTOR. Simply put, divide the number of fight wins by the number of games played. This is why the Flames will never finish last: McGrattan, Engelland, Bollig, etc.

  • Honestly I don’t see why everyones making a big deal over Dellow being sassy on twitter. Most of the people who seemed take issue with his “tone” are people who aren’t shy about speaking their mind on twitter or the radio themselves.

    Anyone who’s followed his blog or listened to him on the radio knows that he comes across as a pro and can be insightful and informative even with a blowhard like Steve Simmons yelling at him.

    His personality on twitter made him more entertaining and enjoyable to follow but anyone who thinks that a professional lawyer is going to be too much of a smart ass to do his dream job is out to lunch.

  • Reds

    This is such a mixed hiring for me.

    For one. I can’t stand Tyler Dellow. I find him to be an arrogant jerk that reacts so poorly when someone has a differing opinion. He comes off as a jerk. Remember: this is the same guy who wrote Conklin=Brodeur, and that Hall should have stayed in junior for financial reasons.

    This is the same guy, who threaten to expose a guys real name and identity on a forum when they disagreed with him. He’s a guy, who whenever he’s on the radio, cannot help but mention himself every second sentence.

    I’m not a fan of Tyler Dellow the person. However, I can’t ignore his work. It’s great. If he presents his work and what it means I can get behind that. What I won’t get behind is some guy blowing his gasket calling others who disagree with him an idiot. It’ll be interesting to see how he works with an NHL team.

    I’ll wait and see if Dellow makes an impact. I’m sure if the Oilers do he’ll be the first one to point out his success. Or if they don’t, it wouldn’t shock me if it was the teams fault they didn’t do it his way.

    All depends on what he was hired on for, of course.

    • Travis Dakin

      So tell me, how valuable were those first 2 seasons that Hall played in the NHL? I would much rather have 2 extra years of Hall in the next few seasons than blowing his first 2 seasons for two more 1st over all picks. Contract management and Dellow was right. Complete wasted years.

      • Bullets Hockey

        So we should have sent Hall back to juniors???
        Could you imagine the contract he’d be getting if his contract was put off 2 years….I like his 6 year/36 mil deal.

      • v4ance

        They didn’t have to be wasted years but Tambellini crapped the bed filling out the roster around Hall. Some of that could have been avoided if they’d listened to analytics posted by Dellow & others and refrained from certain transactions that brought in possession slugs like Nick Schutz, Gadzic or Mike Brown.

        Yes, the best cap management would have been to keep Hall in the OHL for two more seasons. But…

        Pinching pennies by delaying the start of Hall’s ELC would have seen him out the door at his first opportunity. He showed he belonged in the NHL from day 1. No other #1 has been sent back to junior strictly for cap management reasons. That would have sent entirely the wrong message and pissed Hall off for no reason.

    • knee deep in it

      If it’s even possible, the organization just got even more arrogant… Eakins, Six Rings and Dellow will fit right in together, they’ll just have to make sure they aren’t in the same room or the universe may explode.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      There’s more than a few eating some crow with this signing. You are far from alone. Like so many here, think of it as fuel, in a world fueled by hate.

  • 15w40

    I wonder if anyone can take a look into what Dellow said on his website for the past 3-4 months. Today they announced the hire, but he has been on the Oilers’ payroll for at least 2-3 months, since before the “advanced stat darling” signings they made in July.