Accepting hockey analytics, then, requires more than brushing off your arithmetic skills and reading a spreadsheet. It requires a shift in thinking, embracing an uncomfortable amount of arbitrariness, accepting that a bounce is just a bounce and dumb luck can have more to do with a win than grit or heart. Not to make too lofty a comparison, but it can sometimes feel like the difference between believing in a world of a higher order, of divine narratives and preordained plans, and seeing the word as a messy, arbitrary place. The numbers challenge some of the stories we used to explain the world, but they also introduce their own kind of complex beauty.
Fervent irrationality, after all, is what makes a fan a fan. But thinking about the percentages and probabilities doesn’t suddenly drain the magic from the sport – it just means watching the game more thoughtfully.
Hune-Brown, N. “Ice Code”. Sharp. April 2014: 94-95. Print.