Maple Leafs AGM Dubas: 'We want to investigate all areas of the game'

Aug 26, 1:43 PM

Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas continues to make the rounds in order to explain his role with the club, and, more to the point, his stance on analytics, and the impact they can have on shaping the team in a positive way.

Dubas joined Sportsnet 590 on Tuesday, reiterating his position that advanced statistics are just one piece of a much bigger puzzle that takes time to put together:

"I think in hockey there’s a mad rush for people to get hockey to where baseball and soccer and basketball are and in those sports, everything took time with the way that the game was analyzed. When you start to rush it and you start to subscribe to things that are rushing the process along, I think you can knock yourself off the rails. So even though it would be easy to ... it doesn't mean that we should just rush our approach and just be different just to be different."

"I think we want to investigate all areas of the game and analyze them as deeply as we can, but make sure we’re not chasing down into the rabbit hole that we have no idea what we’re looking for down there."

Dubas said he spends part of his time "explaining basic concepts and explaining the elements of the game that do have an analytical slant to them," adding, "people are very open to change and they’re excited about learning different things."

While the Leafs have yet to officially announce the hiring of an analytics team to assist the front office and coaching staff, Dubas acknowledged the importance of looking outside the hockey world in order to help NHL teams see things in a new light:

"I think that in all walks of life in business, there’s a lot of value and knowledge to be had by people who are different than the conventional employee in a certain sector. They view things differently. They evaluate things differently. And especially there’s a lot of value to be had, I think, in having people who are highly intelligent. I think in sports I think we look a lot to just the men. I think there’s a lot of women in sports - and I think that’s the next frontier, is to break down that wall and look outside of just male employees and look towards – there’s a lot of women that I read online that do a lot of great work in hockey analysis."

"I see value in people that haven’t been fully immersed in the culture and that think differently and don’t have thought processes ingrained totally from the beginning."

Time will tell how Toronto's front office moves and apparent shift in philosophy will pay off down the road, but in the present, the Maple Leafs are quickly moving to the front of the parade in terms of embracing new ways of interpreting the game.

Jul 29, 8:48 AM

Maple Leafs AGM Dubas on analytics: 'It’s not the whole secret sauce'

Jul 29, 8:48 AM

The hiring of Kyle Dubas as the Toronto Maple Leafs' assistant general manager was seen as a win for the hockey analytics community, giving credence the increasing use of advanced stats in hockey.

The 28-year-old appeared on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast Monday, and was asked about the dichotomy that exists between 'new guard' and the 'old guard' in relation to this topic, and where he fits in:

I guess it’s to be expected that it would kind of go that way. People trying to determine if I’m a hockey guy or an analytics guy. The reality of it is I’m someone who’s worked in hockey my entire life that over the past number of years has begun to develop, I guess, a usefulness for analytics that have really helped us in [Sault Ste. Marie] over time and especially in the last 18 months or so as we’ve been able to gather more information.

It’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s not the whole secret sauce or anything like that. It helps out. It’s been a big help to us in reducing uncertainty and just gathering more information. But it’s not a one-way or the other type proposition with me or with us, it’s just incorporating as much data and information as we possibly can.

Dubas futher qualified his position by rightly arguing for a healthy balance between analytics and the old eye test:

We didn’t make every decision by just taking the numbers and nobody does that in hockey. Even those who are really strong analysts online or in print media or wherever it may be, they are all watching the games. I mean, they’re not just sitting there at the computer and generating a list of ‘this guy is good’ and ‘this guy is bad’ and this is what the numbers tell me. Everyone's watching the games and I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions.

Since his hiring, the Maple Leafs have signed analytic-friendly forwards Daniel Winnik and David Booth; while advanced stats might not be the whole secret sauce, Dubas already appears to be helping the team build a tastier mix.

[H/T Nichols on Hockey]