How Much Do NHL Players Really Make? Part 2: Taxes

Although published NHL salaries may seem exorbitant at times, players’ annual income is subject to a number of withholdings that limit their take-home pay. As we explained in Part 1 of this series, players lose some of their earnings to escrow – a reconciliation process arising out the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. Another expense that reduces a player’s earnings is something that all workers in the United States and Canada are subject to: taxes.

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Quantifying Differences between the Regular Season and Playoffs using Survival Analysis


From a casual fan’s perspective, the intensity traditionally ramps up in the playoffs because teams are closer to the grand prize, the Stanley Cup. Fans are hyped up by the storylines and rivalries for every series, and so each event feels all the more momentous. So, how different are the rates of goals, shots, or hits from the regular season to the playoffs? Does the fact that a game is played during the playoffs change these rates significantly? Which rates don’t change that much?

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Data Viz in Excel – Tips & Tricks

These days, everyone and their mother is going to tell you to learn to code if you want to jump into sports analytics. And while I’m not going to say “don’t do it,” I am a petty betch who really hates being told what to do (see: my on-going resistance to yoga).

Also, I’m busy, and learning to code is a whole thing that takes time. You are also probably busy, or maybe just starting to dip your toe into sports analytics as a hobby. Maybe you’ve tried learning to code and it just doesn’t make sense to you.

None of that should discourage you from playing around with hockey data and writing up what you find. In fact, there’s a perfectly good tool you can use to visualize most of the basics. Excel!

Excel gets made fun of for many reasons, but what I see most often is cutting comments about its basic visualization tools. To put it nicely, they’re…rough.

But making pleasing, easy-to-understand viz with Excel is possible! I’ve done it! Multiple times!

So, I’ve written down some of my best tips, most of which are applicable when you’re using a more powerful program, too.

1) Know what you want to show and why you want to show it. 

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How to Get Started in Hockey Analytics


Analytics, so hot right now. But how do you get started? People from all sorts of background and levels of expertise have contributed valuable work to hockey analytics, but the journey can feel daunting.

In this post, I want to lay out my personal advice for what knowledge and skills are needed and how to get them. Your mileage will vary, but I think much of this will be useful to anyone who is interested in starting to do their own analytics research or writing.

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Should teams pull their goalie on the power play?

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The NHL is in the middle of a goalie pulling frenzy. While the year is still young, coaches of teams who are losing by a goal have been pulling their goalie roughly around the 1:40 mark of the 3rd period the last two years, about 40 seconds earlier than they were in previous years. This development, of course, is a long time coming – analysts have been arguing for years that teams should be more aggressive in removing their netminders.

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Are Teams getting Lucky on Rushes?


This game was played on January 25th, 2017 between the Vancouver Canucks and the Colorado Avalance at Pepsi Center. In this 2-on-1 rush, Loui Eriksson, #21, carries the puck up the ice. Nikita Tryamkin, #88, outskates Mikko Rantanen, #96, to get to the net and create an dangerous opportunity while the lone defender, Cody Goloubef, #18, sprawled to futilely prevent the pass.

When you look at this offensive rush, do you ever wonder about the numbers behind it? For example, is the number of shots that were preceded by passes repeatable over an entire season? What about shooting percentages? If they are repeatable, do zones of the primary pass (the pass preceding a shot) influence this repeatability? What about rebounds and rebound shooting percentages (the goals scored from rebounds)?


In hockey, “odd-man rushes” is a term frequently used to refer to offensive attacks such as the above where the attacking team has more players than the defending team. In my analysis, I will be slightly deviating from this jargon and instead use “odd-player rushes”, which consist of shots that were preceded by passes and taken on breakaways, 2-on-1, 3-on-2, etc. Any shots that are not rush shots with a player advantage are categorized as “all_other_shots”.

In the later parts of this analysis, I will be using the terms, “rebound shot” and “rebound shooting percentage”. The first indicates a shot on goal following a rebound and the second is calculated as rebound goals (goals that follow rebounds) divided by rebound shots.


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Public Ballots May Be Changing Award Voting Behavior

My office was recently planning an offsite social event. During a team meeting, we brainstormed what activity to do together. Along with ideas like mini golf, hiking, and wine tasting, someone suggested karaoke. The team initially responded positively, so when everyone turned to me, I said “sure, that sounds fun”. Then someone put the options in a Google Form for us to all vote on privately. I opened it at my desk and immediately voted for karaoke dead last. I didn’t want to be a downer in public, but there was no way I was doing karaoke.

Being in public changes our behavior. It’s a natural trait and totally understandable. What’s interesting is understanding when and how it changes, and the NHL awards voting may have given us an opportunity to do just that. For the 2017-2018 season, the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) made their individual voter ballots public for the first time, and it appears that this may have affected how some writers voted.

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