NHL adds advanced statistics on its website

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The NHL’s fancy stats are going mainstream.

The league announced Friday it is overhauling the statistics on its website to include advanced metrics.

The multiyear partnership with software and database company SAP eventually will include searchable statistics dating to the league’s inaugural season in 1917-18. There will be 45 enhanced statistics that have grown increasingly popular in recent years by those in search of advanced metrics to measure possession and other facets of the game beyond goals and assists.

The overhaul will be done in four phases, a process that started Friday with the addition of advanced statistics to the league’s website.

"We’re going way beyond goals and saves and penalty minutes," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We’re going to give fans for the first time authentic stats from our real-time stats feeds. The stats and data that we will be providing can give any fan interested, especially an avid fan, insight into the game."

In recent years, fans have turned to blogs and other websites to track statistics like Corsi and Fenwick that measure how many shot attempts are taken and allowed with a given player on the ice as a measure of puck possession.

Those stats will be on the new website under new names of SAT (shot attempts) and USAT (unblocked shot attempts) broken down by different game situations.

"They will be referenced on the website," Bettman said, referring to the old names. "But we decided to use terms that are more user friendly and more self-explanatory and don’t provide a barrier to entry where someone will go ‘What’s Corsi?"’

There will also be statistics for shooting plus save percentage for teams, breakdowns of primary and secondary assists, penalties taken and drawn, what zones players start their shifts and average shot length.

Phase 2 is expected to be in place in time for the playoffs and will feature analysis of series with an algorithm that incorporates 37 variables.

By the start of next season, phase 3 will allow more comparison tools between teams and players and by 2016 the entire official statistical history, including every box score since 1917-18 will be added to the website to allow filtering and searching that will help comparisons across eras.

"If you have to boil this down to one word, it’s ‘more,"’ Bettman said. "It’s more data, more precise and more speed. That’s just our way of doing all of this better."

The league is also in the process of working with the players’ association about puck and player tracking technology that could be available as soon as next season if all obstacles can be worked out.

There was a test run at the All-Star game last month and NHL chief operating officer John Collins said it was mostly successful. The league now must determine what the cost of the system would be, how to mass produce pucks and other issues with the union before deciding by the start of the playoffs whether it can be in place by the start of next season.

"Hopefully it’s on the near horizon," Collins said.

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