It looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs think analytics could offer a solution to their Stanley Cup curse.
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog reported Tuesday that the Leafs are creating an analytics department and are in the process of hiring three respected names from the advanced-stats set: Darryl Metcalf, who ran the blog ExtraSkater.com (now offline); Cam Charron, an advanced stats-savvy writer who has contributed to Yahoo Canada and Grantland.com; and Rob Pettapiece, who worked with Yahoo Sports' Buzzing The Net junior hockey blog.
The new hires would likely report to assistant general manager Kyle Dubas, Wyshynski reported.
Dubas, 28, was hired last month from the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and is considered an analytics-friendly executive.
These moves by the Leafs, who haven't won the Cup since 1967, are part of a trend that has swept the NHL recently. Earlier this month the Edmonton Oilers hired Tyler Dellow, a blogger with an analytics bent. The New Jersey Devils added former pro poker player Sunny Mehta as their director of analytics.
Other pro sports leagues, most prominently the NBA and Major League Baseball, have been doing this for years, turning to mathematically inclined, often young, minds to make personnel decisions rather than the former players who dominated front offices for decades.
Still, not everyone is a fan. Old-school Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons, who has tangled with the advanced-stats community, tweeted his opinion that Charron "is a weasel who can't be trusted."
I like the hiring of Darryl Metcalf. I dislike the hiring of Cam Charron, who from my experiences is a weasel who can't be trusted.— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) August 19, 2014
It was quite a day for the Leafs, who also hired Brandon Pridham as an assistant to GM Dave Nonis.
Pridham, a 40-year-old who had worked at NHL headquarters, will "assist with salary cap analysis, contract negotiations and collective bargaining agreement interpretation," the team said Tuesday in a release.
An even bigger front-office move may be in the works involving the Leafs, as Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman reported that Tim Leiweke will step down as the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that controls the team.
Leiweke denied the report.
Hearing MLSE president/CEO Tim Leiweke will be leaving the company soon. (1/2)— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 19, 2014
Not sure of where he's going, but hearing the reason is he is looking for a new challenge.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 19, 2014
Leweike, it should be noted, is denying the report. Saying he has made no long-term decisions yet.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 19, 2014