As we sit here on the morning of Wednesday, December the 7th and digest the fact that the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League are sitting in 1st place of the Pacific Division, a portion of the fan base still feels the need to bitch and whine and moan about one player. The funny thing is, now that some light has been shed on that player by some pretty smart hockey minds leading to a prominent hockey voice within the oilogosphere to head down the road of conspiracy theories in an attempt to justify his failed witch hunt upon one, Kris Russell.
Now, before I get into this elongated diatribe, Russell has been hot garbage the last few games when paired up with Adam Larsson and that has done nothing but stoke the fires over at Camp Poopy Pants but as we know, hockey has its peaks and its valleys.
It’s my understanding that all of this really got going when Jim Matheson wrote about the Oilers possibly having an offer on the table for Kris Russell in the 3-4 year range (IIRC), and somebody took offense to this and wrote some pieces over at Oilers Nation regarding Russell the Love Muscle. Part 1 of those blogs included a shit ton of stats and numbers that painted the Oilers new #4 in a non-flattering light. You cannot argue with those numbers because they are, after all, factual, but it’s not fair to the target audience of the composition if the writer can’t show the other side of the coin.
What followed was a piece most recently by Mark Spector, and I believe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for some. Now they aren’t happy with Chiarelli because… Reasons.
Nice to see unanimous acceptance and much pleasure derived from my foray into Kris Russell analytics! https://t.co/3wCVR6ndEa
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) December 7, 2016
I am not advocating that the Oilers re-sign Kris Russell for anything more than 1 year if they do indeed decide to bring him back. I’m of the belief that there will be better players available and by re-signing him, that puts a huge dent in the team’s ability to pick up that right-handed powerplay quarterback to which this season is a perfect season to be buying low. Check out the numbers on Tyson Barrie and Sami Vatanen, or even Travis Hamonic and try to disagree with me.
We move on to the dirty stuff now… If you want to skip this part, you can scroll down a bit and there are some interesting “facts” about Kris Russell that are actually in the positive. Oh, there’s some BOLD language in this post. So you’ve been forewarned. And it’s kinda long. Good Luck! May the Russell be with you!
IS PETER CHIARELLI BEING TAKEN FOR A RIDE?
New Report Suggests Oilers Being Conned https://t.co/WnBSXC1GPj
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) December 7, 2016
“Black Box Analytics” Get used to that term because that’s where amateur bloggers and statistics aficionados will be taking you. Taken from Mr.Henderson’s blog over at the highly-respected hockey trade rumors site, Hockeybuzz, we are gifted this definition of black box analytics:
Some firm has generated these numbers and presenting them with (we assume) some analysis to go along with it. We do not know their process. We do not have access to the numbers. We cannot test the numbers because they are hidden from us. We do not know what kind of analysis is being done, by whom, and for what profit.
Wait! That’s not a definition! And how noble of Mr.Henderson to be so protective of the Oilers’ financial well-being. God forbid a company make a profit! Off of the Oilers no less!!
A black box is any device whose workings are not understood by or accessible to its user. (source)
All I read from Henderson’s quote is a severe amount of insecurity. “We do not know their process. We do not have access to the numbers. We cannot test the numbers because they are hidden from us. We do not know what kind of analysis is being done. by whom, and for what profit.”
I don’t know why he keeps saying “we” when it should be “I” and boo f*cking hoo. You don’t know something. Welcome to the club. The fact of the matter is that this one blogger is losing his shit (and his credibility) because he’s gone to ridiculous lengths to come to a very public and questionable conclusion that is slightly flawed but he cannot gain access to the information that may justify the outcome of his research or give him insight into where he IS wrong (which at this point, he’s so convinced that he isn’t in the wrong that he’s talking about black box analytics). It’s ignorant and arrogant.
So kids, in this case, when there’s SOOOOOO much you cannot do or do not know; you go and talk to the people with the information you want (or need in this case) OR you start to do your own analysis. YOU go and track the player, YOU write down your findings, YOU share your new research results with the online community and open them up for critique because you want that. You want to know where the faults lie within your research so that you can find the true answer.
WHAT WE DON’T DO
Don’t be a little bitch and go down conspiracy theory road because you’re too encumbered by “life” and for sure don’t try to sell yourself to the public that you’re some sort of authority or influencer on the topic if you’re not willing to go the extra mile! And especially, this one is key, don’t post your conspiracy theory on a well-known hockey rumors website. If you’re so convinced, put it up on a respectable platform like Oilers Nation 🙂
It all stinks of desperation and I’m surprised it has come this far.
COULD HENDERSON BE RIGHT?
OF COURSE, there’s a possibility that everything Mr.Henderson is claiming is true but that is no more a possibility than Kris Russell being the worst dman in the history of the NHL. Why? Because it is so bloody apparent that Henderson has an agenda and, at least to me, this is his way of expressing his displeasure towards Peter Chiarelli for trading his favorite hockey player, Taylor Hall.
I guess that’s one route to take but good luck. You’re going to need it.
WHAT DOES KRIS RUSSELL DO RIGHT?
Now, I’m sure “black box analysis” will be a new buzzword going forth because the people using it and believing in it will refuse to admit their ignorance and blissfully look the other way when they are shown up. We’ve got people like former Edmonton Oiler Brad Werenka, who works for a hockey analytics company called True Performance Hockey, who said this past week on Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins that Kris Russell was akin to that of Charlie Huddy or Randy Gregg back in the Oilers’ hay day. These defensemen have value.
From Wilkins’ show:
Wilkins: Can I ask you, is there a player like that in today’s game that’s a bit of an analytics star in today’s game like that?
Werenka: Well, there’s several defenseman, Kris Russell is one of those guys who scores very well because he does stuff that denies opportunities and takes chances away and one of those is obviously blocked shots.
So even within the Twittersphere there are comments that support Kris Russell.
Kris Russell's rank among NHL D by 5v5 SV%:
– 2015-16 (min. 400 min.): 202 of 210.
– 2016-17 (min. 100 min.): 27 of 207.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) December 6, 2016
I could be wrong but having a dman who ranks high in 5×5 SV% should be good, no? We’d like our goalie to be saving the puck more often than not when Russell is on the ice, right? I don’t claim to be a stats guy and I could be reading Willis’ tweet all wrong though. I’ll leave it to you to let me know.
Russell leads EDM D-men in PK time. 2nd in successful defensive plays while shorthanded. Clears zone more shorthanded than any Oiler D-man.
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) December 5, 2016
Well this certainly HAS to be of some importance. The Oilers are 11th in the NHL in PK% (at one time they were 2nd). Do you think Kris Russell has had an impact on the Oilers PK?
Funny, the perception Kris Russell is a poor possession player. He has the puck on his stick 1:27 / game at even-strength, 1st on Oilers.
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) December 5, 2016
More than Connor McDavid? That’s insane but hey, why give that guy the puck if he’s so shitty, right?
Kris Russel's GF% RelTM last 7 years: +12, +0.3, +8.1, +6.7, +3.6, +11.5, -0.8. But he's below replacement level. https://t.co/EZbHo5VQ7J
— David Johnson (@hockeyanalysis) July 1, 2016
@ThunderTomOlsen Imply his teammates perform better when he is on the ice with them than when he is not. So, he is good.
— David Johnson (@hockeyanalysis) July 1, 2016
Wanna know what that stat is this season @5×5, 200 min TOI? 12.2. Kris Russell relative to his teammates has a 12.2 goals for %. That is good for 28th in the NHL. That is a first pairing defenseman. It’s better than Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Ryan Suter, M.E. Vlasic, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brent Burns, Alex Pietrangelo, Victor Hedman, Duncan Keith, etc… So keep telling me how bad Kris Russell is. (source)
I talk a lot about Kris Russell because he appears to be a true analytics outlier.
— David Johnson (@hockeyanalysis) December 5, 2016
@Archaeologuy At what point does your witch hunt on Russell stop?
— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) December 7, 2016
Yes, Mr. Henderson. When will it end?
BLH, DON’T YOU HAVE YOUR OWN QUESTIONS ABOUT RUSSELL?
I do have my own questions as to why Kris Russell has become such a point of debate amongst hockey fans, the first one included in the tweet below and the second following it.
@BeerLeagueHeroe correlation does not equal causation.
— Travis Dakin (@TravisDakin) December 4, 2016
So a player’s performance has nothing to do with the team’s record? If that’s the case, and I’m sure to be misunderstanding something, take McDavid out of the lineup and tell me that correlation doesn’t equal causation. Then enjoy your tasty bowl of frosted dicks.
And if Russell’s performances aren’t equal or at least offer a contribution to the Oilers results, what the fuck are we even talking about then? He’s the worst player by certain stats on this team, great. You’ve done the world an unthankable (I don’t think that’s a word) service by pointing our Russell’s flaws…
This team is first in its division and has been consistently in the top half of the Western Conference this season to date. IF you think you’re so smart, show me where Kris Russell is preventing the Oilers from winning better or more. Show me which player on the Oilers roster is better suited for the role that Kris Russell is filling.
We should know by now that teams take time to get on top. LA, Chicago, Pittsburgh, St.Louis, Washington, Anaheim, San Jose, Boston, Montreal, etc. They were all shit at one point or another and then they turned it around. Was it immediate? No. Was it gradual? Yes! Did their GMs make some questionable moves and miss out on some high-end draft picks, fuck ya they did!
I don’t even really know why these posts by Matt have got me all worked up but they have. I have no problem with wanting the Oilers to be better and I definitely don’t have a problem with questioning “the man” but I do not believe for one second that Chiarelli is doing a bad job. And the NHL standings tell me that the stamp that he has put on this team has been a positive one.
I am on #TeamChiarelli because he’s done just *that* much better than MacTavish, Tambellini, and Lowe…
Rant over. Weight off of chest. Have a good evening/morning/afternoon!