The 4th annual Hockey Night in Stouffville will take place tonight. All proceeds for this event will go towards the child and adolescent services at the Markham-Stouffville hospital. While this is the 4th annual event, it will be the first time that I will be attending. The event is littered with former (Keith Acton), current (Stephen Weiss) and, perhaps, future NHL players (Sam Carrick) from the surrounding area. There are also some media members that take part. It is short notice, but if you are in the area and want to come out and have a fun time I suggest checking it out. If you do decide to come by, send me a shout on twitter and I’ll try to meet up.
I was invited by Jeff Marek of Sportsnet to attend. Marek is someone who I have grown to appreciate in the hockey community. I was first introduced to him when he co-hosted Leafs Lunch on AM 640. He was partnered with former Leaf executive Bill Watters and, to be honest, it was a program that was difficult to listen to at times. Since then, Marek has gone from Hockey Night in Canada to Rogers Sportsnet. With Sportsnet now absorbing HNIC, Marek has, in a roundabout way, come back to his TV roots. Next season he will be one of the main hosts for the new national rights holders and, in my opinion, is one of the strongest on-air talents that network currently employs.
Fans of this blog (and of my accompanying twitter account) are aware of how much sports radio I listen to. The program that I value above all others is the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast. During the season it is a daily show. It has remained constant throughout the summer providing much needed hockey content. I enjoy the podcast because it provides objective and open-minded thoughts on a game so many of us love. I think this monologue from Marek on the August 13th edition of the show is a perfect example of why I enjoy it so much and why I value Marek’s view:
I’ve always felt that regardless of how you feel about analytics, they are very much a thing in the NHL. I think as someone who works in this side of the industry that you have a responsibility, even if you don’t like it, to understand it, be able to use it and make it a part of your conversation. This is another way of looking at the game. That’s the thing that is so interesting to me. For so many years I’ve looked at the game in one very specific way. To me it’s exciting that there’s now a couple of different ways to look at the game, to value players and a couple of different ways to look at things like hits, shots on goals and takeaways. There’s now a different perspective on it. To me that makes hockey more exciting right now. Doing the same thing over and over again. Writing the same story talking about trying hard, grit, heart and all that stuff doesn’t it get boring after a while? Don’t you want to look at the game a different way? I understand it’s going to be harder. That there are some things you’ll have to sit there and learn. Whenever I hear people dismiss it [analytics], my first instinct is: you just don’t want to get involved in this because this means a little bit more work. Means a little bit less time doing whatever you want and more time spending it with the game, understanding it from different perspectives.
I don’t think it could have been said any better than that.