Hockey Headlines

Monday, 18 July 2016

Own It

If there's one thing I've learned from having a blog and a radio show, it's that what I write and/or say can live on forever. I will fully admit that I've been wrong on many occasions with my hockey prognostications and my opinions on some of the topics I've covered probably should have landed me in some hot water had the hockey world considered me more of an authority. You learn through these errors in judgment about what should and shouldn't be said, but there's one thing more than anything that I've done when it comes to my lapses in judgment: I've owned it.

I have been reading the recent comments that Matt Pfeffer has been making regarding analytics, the PK Subban trade, and his apparent emphatic plea with Montreal management to keep the dynamic defenceman. While I have gone on record both on this blog and on the radio show that I believe the Canadiens should have kept Subban rather than making the trade for Weber, the trade happened and Subban will play for Nashville for presumably the remainder of his career.

I won't apologize for my comments. I truly believe that Marc Bergevin made a serious error in judgment in making this deal, and I happen to fall into the majority of the hockey world who believes this similar sentiment. Matt Pfeffer is part of that majority, and he went on record with The Hockey News' Ken Campbell today about his feelings on the deal and what appears to be Montreal's change in direction for its analytics department after Pfeffer's contract was not renewed.

He makes some comments in Campbell's piece that may come from emotion as opposed to rational thinking. Among some of his comments, the highlights include:
  • "I guess everyone knows now where I stood on the Subban-Weber trade. There are times when there's some possibility that there would be another side to the argument, but this was one of those things where it was so, so far outside what could be considered reasonable."
  • "My analysis of Shea Weber had very little to do with Corsi. It's easy to hate on Corsi, but he is not a good goal differential guy either. He's not pushing the needle in terms of how many goals the Nashville Predators score and get scored on when he's on the ice. He's good, he's serviceable, but he doesn't really push the needle on either side."
  • "An average NHLer is worth a heck of a lot and that's what Shea Weber is."
As an unemployed analytics guy, it's probably not a good idea to rip into your former team or the decisions made by those who were signing your cheques. It's a bit of a career-limiting move, but you could tell that Pfeffer is still emotional about his job, his work, and the trade. That's part of being human, and to be human is to err.

Being 21 years-old is no excuse, but there's wisdom in experience as well. You might say that his youthful exuberance got the better of him in the interview with Campbell. At 21, I fully admit that I was far sharper with my tongue than I probably should have been, and I learned the lessons necessary to know that there is a time and a place for speaking out when it comes to the hill one chooses to die on. Pfeffer is also learning those lessons as we follow this story.

What bothers me, though, is that he made the statements and then decided that his comments weren't entirely wise when it comes to being employed by any other NHL team as he tweeted out the following:
Of course, that tweet has been deleted along with most of Matt's other Twitter work. I have no problem with a guy making rather controversial statements, but why delete it? Why remove what you believe to be true, especially since it's based on real numbers?

Career suicide obviously doesn't last long as Matt has already joined the Hockey Graphs family, so his work in analytics will continue albeit not with an NHL squad. I feel he'll do well there as he can really show off his work with numbers across the entire NHL spectrum. I can't deny that Matt has talent - he's good at what he does.

However, he needs to own this situation. He made comments that were perhaps said in haste and out of emotion, and he should be apologizing directly to Weber and the Canadiens instead of expressing regret over what he said. This is about accepting responsibility for one's comments and showing the maturity to admit that what was said was negative and, possibly, hurtful. An apology directly to the Canadiens and Shea Weber would be infinitely better than the expressed regret via social media.

I do hope that Matt Pfeffer can find a job with an NHL team in the future if he pursues one. He does have an innate ability to decipher numbers and dig deeper into the stats. However, there will be a lot of GMs who will "eye-test" this situation for a long time when it comes to future employment. An apology would go a long way in Matt owning his future.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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