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Mach_9

Good Idea?

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I know we had a thread discussing the +- stat before, but I though this idea might need it's own space to be discussed in. I had a great idea that would fix the seemingly flawed +- system in the NHL. It's a super simple fix.

When you look at a player's stats, the main items you're shown are: GP/Goals/Assists/Points/+-/PIMs and so, when looking at two of the league's leaders you might see (numbers are the same to prove a point):

Player #1 82 GP/46 goals/60 assists/106 points/+52/80 PIM

Player #2 82 GP/46 goals/60 assists/106 points/+4/80 PIM

This has player #1 looking like the stronger player of the two but ... that's the problem. If Player #1 scores 106 points on a strong team and is a plus 52, while in the same year Player #2 scores 106 points on a very weak team and is a +4, than looking at the entire league, you'll see two similar players, with the same number of points but one has a +- that is 48 better than the other. Everyone thinks Player #1 is better than Player #2. If you're still comparing the two players though, and you put next to their +- stat another stat, stating his teams' average +- you might find that:

Player #1 46 goals/60 assists/106 points/+52/Team Average +39

Player #2 46 goals/60assists/106 poinys/+4/ Team Average -13

By simply adding a column for each players respective team average +- the stat becomes far more useful. Not only does it give you an idea of how important the player is to his team, it allows you to compare the difference in +- (as compared to the rest of their team) more accurately. In this case, instead of seeing that Player #1 is 48+ better than Player #2, you find that Player #1 is 13 better than his team average, while Player #2 is 17 better than his team average. In this case, the players are far more equal than they at first appear, and Player #2 is actually better than Player #1 and far more valuable to his team, because he manages the same number of points as Player #1 while on a significantly worse team, and might be more valuable in his own end as well.

The way things are currently, the +- stat only really helps you to determine a players worth on his team. It's obvious that a player who is a +2 on a team of all minuses is valuable to his team but, as exhibited in the example above, that is indiscnerable when looking at the entire league's stats. That +2 looks insignifcant when compared to the +40 of a defenseman on a better team but the picture is incomplete. Adding a column for Team Average +- adds the missing information. Right now +-, with regards to the entire league, and not individual teams, is a stat that has no meaning, since it can be so misleading. The Team Average column, next to everyone's +- would essentially function as a key for interpreting the meaning of that (currently) arbitrary +- number. When you look at players with equal goals, assists, points in equal games played, but vastly different +-, you can't accurately tell who is a stronger player without doing some research to find out how the rest of their team looks. If you add this extra column, there is no research necessary. A +18 on a team whose average is +16 versus a +4 on a team with an average of -11 is weaker, but right now we'd never see that.

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So that's definitly drawn out and repititive towards the end, but I think it illustrates a good point and is a very solid idea that could easily be implimented by the NHL.

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I agree that something should be done as the stat is worthwhile if you compare it to the team average as you have stated. Ovechkin last year was a +2 on a team that had only 4 players on the + side of the spectrum (minimum 50 games) and Ottawa had 0 players on the - side (same minimum 50 games). Ovechkin and Vaclav Varada both finished +2 for their respective teams and I gotta say that Ovechkins +2 is much more impressive considering how bad his team was.

We have also discussed how the stat should be modified to incorporate special teams as currently it is a major part of the game, take for example Cheechoo and Thornton in San Jose

Cheechoo 5 Goal, 7 Assists, but is a -8

Thornton 2 goals, 13 assists but is a -7

Their issue, they score so much on the power play

Cheechoo 4 goals and 5 assists on the power play

Thornton 1 goal and 10 assists on the power play

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We have also discussed how the stat should be modified to incorporate special teams as currently it is a major part of the game, take for example Cheechoo and Thornton in San Jose

Cheechoo 5 Goal, 7 Assists, but is a -8

Thornton 2 goals, 13 assists but is a -7

Their issue, they score so much on the power play

Cheechoo 4 goals and 5 assists on the power play

Thornton 1 goal and 10 assists on the power play

Precisely. Changing those stats make Cheechoo a +1 and Thornton a +4. Even without changing these areas of the statistic however, comparissons become more accurate when the overall +- is contextualized by placing it next to team average. Out of context (as it is when you look at the league leaders) +- is meaningless. Simply placing the team average +- next to the individual player +- instantly contextualizes it and makes it a worthwhile statistic. Additional changes to the system would obviously be beneficial, but one can arge that the system is fair as is because it applies to everyone, while no one can argue that placing the team average next to the individual players statistic does not lend the statistic to a much more full and accurate interpretation.

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