Eakins: 'Why you would not consider [analytics] baffles me'

Ian McLaren

The Edmonton Oilers announced the addition of lawyer, blogger, Sportsnet.ca contributor and advanced statistician Tyler Dellow to its front office staff on Tuesday, and head coach Dallas Eakins joined TSN1290 on Thursday to discuss the hiring.

Eakins began by referencing his mentor, the late Roger Nielson, who pioneered the use of video technology in breaking down team systems and analyzing player performance, citing the case for the rise of analytics as a new wave in terms of how the game is being assessed:

Roger taught me early on how to keep your own stats for your own team and not rely on others. We've done that internally with our team with these advanced stats, the analytics, whatever you want to call them. I kind of look at when Roger started the video. I think a lot of people thought Roger was crazy and this is just going to be a fad and it's going to go away. But everybody's doing it, and now some teams are maybe doing it too much.

I've got a lot of time for the analytics, I believe it's something you have to consider. Why you would not consider it in your decision process baffles me. It doesn't mean you're going to use it every time, but it's something you have to look at when you're making final decisions, whether it's on systems, on players or however you're going to use it.

He continued by explaining how his relationship with Dellow began and why he thought it was important to make the move sooner than later.

Tyler and I have a very short history. It's one that, when I was coaching in the American Hockey League, I was interested in analytics and I was reading his website. It's where I started my education on the verbage and what these guys were looking at.

We brought Tyler in to our in-house coaching clinic last year before the season started. He put up a presentation, it was excellent. That night, we all went out to dinner, I ended up sitting next to him at dinner. He was engaging, he was passionate and I kept in touch with him, not a lot during the season but maybe three or four times, checking in and talking hockey a little bit.

As the summer went on and we revamped our staff, I really thought this was probably the last piece and to try to really get ahead of the game and not be scrambling here a year or two down the road trying to find a really good analytics guy. I thought it was time for us to have one right away.

Understandably, Eakins would not go into detail in terms of what Dellow will bring to the table, but, in a general sense, he noted the importance of matching up what your gut is telling you and what the analytics say in terms of the decision-making process. 

He called it "another tool to look at" and another important element to bring to the conversation.

Based on the team's inability to make the jump into the playoffs after a string of high draft picks, it's no wonder the Oilers are prepared to take any avenue possible towards a greater measure of success.

Related: Hockey's statistical revolution is in full swing, and it's time to take the next step by Justin Bourne