In what is becoming a bigger trend throughout the NHL, many clubs are hiring analytics gurus to be part of their front offices.
The Edmonton Oilers have now joined the party and have recently hired Tyler Dellow, an advanced analytics whiz, who until recently operated an analytics based blog at mc79hockey.com (@mc79hockey).
The website went down a few nights ago which was the first indication that a move may be imminent. The story was broken by TSN’s Bob McKenzie that a front office position may be in the works. It was later confirmed that he was hired by the Oilers.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) August 5, 2014
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) August 5, 2014
The ironic part here is that he hasn’t necessarily been beloved by Oilers management, as he has been openly critical of not only them but other members of the NHL front office over the last decade.
A lawyer by trade, he has been one of the more controversial and outspoken members of the blogosphere and a public supporter of advanced analytics. One of the more common targets of his condemnation – the same Edmonton Oilers that just hired him.
The undeniable fact is that Dellow has proven to be an exceptional analyst with the ability to relate the the numbers and data to game situations.
He also gained some public fame in the hockey world in 2010 when he uncovered a number of questionable emails between then NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell and director of officiating Stephen Walkom. The information uncovered in the emails called into question the impartiality of Campbell at the time.
It certainly seems to be the wave of the future, or at least the flavour of the year, as Dellow is not the first of his kind hired by NHL clubs.
Sunny Mehta, former poker pro and stats blogger, was hired by the New Jersey Devils with the new title of Director of Analytics and former OHL General Manager Kyle Dubas was hired by Brendan Shanahan and the Toronto Maple Leafs to fill a similar need.
As THW’s Ryan Pike writes, it is a trend that’s heating up and expect most teams to follow suit sooner rather than later.
One would have to think that head coach Dallas Eakins, a known advocate of advanced analytics, was the driving force behind the hire and will value his input in terms of game planning.
OK, saying he was hired by “the Oilers” might be a stretch. No one is sure how Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe really feel about analytics. But Coach Dallas Eakins is a dedicated follower, and Dellow is expected to report directly to him. So is assistant GM Scott Howson, who no doubt lobbied within the organization for the move.
The fact is, the Oilers can use all of the help they can get. A team that has finished near or at the bottom of the NHL’s standings for far too long, the time has come for them to be a team on the rise.
While Dellow isn’t going to be the difference between a playoff spot and not, he will provide valuable insight and information that perhaps isn’t caught by many of the traditional hockey people. His job is to provide Eakins, MacTavish and Howson with the most amount of information possible to base their decisions.
For a change the Oilers seem to be thinking ahead of the curve and trying to gain an advantage that some teams may not have, rather than reacting after the fact.
The only shame here is that we are all now deprived of Tyler Dellow’s insightful blog and the enjoyment the public would take in not only his innovative analysis but his no holds barred opinions.
Our loss is the Edmonton Oilers gain.
Carl covers the Edmonton Oilers for THW as well as providing additional prospect coverage. Follow him on twitter @carlTHW, connect on Facebook or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments or if you’re interested in him writing for you.