## The Edmonton Oilers are making a wise foray into analytics in an odd way

The Oilers have been, for quite some time now, pretty terrible. That’s attested by their fleet of unbelievable young talent, attained only by finishing so far down the standings for so long that they kept sneaking into the draft lottery. This team has seen enough struggle, and wants to win. So they’re going to give this whole advanced stats thing a go…by holding a fan-based contest.

This, from their website:

Edmonton Oilers fans and analytics experts have a chance to become insiders with the team, help the team win games and capture some cool prizes in a unique contest. The club is opening its analytical information vault to launch Oilers Hackathon 2.0. Contestants will look at the data and determine the best methodology to solve questions posed by the Oilers.

In addition to bragging rights and a chance to peruse and develop the Oilers data from as far back as 1979, the grand prizes include a position on the analytics team and a behind the scenes game night experience including watching the game from the catwalk with hockey management!

Online registration is open until December 21 and participants have until February 15, 2013, to submit their proposed methodology. It will be measured against real game results.

This is entirely fascinating. I cannot believe it’s really happening.

From there, you can take off to the Rules and Regulations to the contest, where you learn you can sign up as early as the 14th, and that there are a full ten prize packages to be won. The Oilers are fairly well-known in the stat community for having a thriving fancy-stat-interested population, and from what I can tell, this is open to fans of any team, so I’m guessing there’ll be more than enough entrants to justify giving away that many prizes.

Here’s what they have to do:

1. Predict next regular season’s points/game for the players listed in appendix A.
2. Predict next season’s even strength save percentage of the goaltenders listed in appendix A
3. Predict the goal differential per regular season game ((goals for less goals against) divided bygames played) for all thirty teams for the upcoming season. (20 points)
4. Conduct a predictive analysis of your choice on some dimension of potential value to theOilers. The analysis must be testable in the upcoming season and judged on its difficulty, accuracy, clarity, and value

Some examples of submissions for question four might be:

-  predict how many man-games each team will lose to injury
-  predict the shot differential per game of each team
-  predict which players who have yet to play 10 games in the NHL will have the highest point total in the next season

I think it’s a genius idea, aside from the fact that the implication of “help!” looks a liiittle bit Mickey Mouse from a professional sports organization. But, they get added input from people who have a pretty good idea what they’re talking about. They keep people interested, what with the job on the line and people generally wanted to prove their smarter than your average hockey executive. And they create some buzz. I know I’ll be following along.

All that said, let’s cut to the chase:

As long as “being a sweetheart on Twitter” isn’t a part of the job description, I think the Oilers might have some new staff members. (Just teasin’, Dellow)

1. Oh man how do we start the #MC79forOilersAGM campaign? I think I could muster at least 4 or 5 assistant ‘drones’ who’d comb stats for MC79.

The only real threat of this plan would be the inevitable ‘accidental’ slip by Lowe from the catwalk during the game night experience.

2. The Oilers and others team already use mc79hockey’s stuff from his site, guaranteed. They have an entire research department already, they’re not oblivious to this stuff. They obviously already know all the widely known methodologies anybody on the internet knows.

It’s if you can bring something nobody has seen before or a way of looking at things nobody else has done on the Internet yet, then you might be a valuable asset to their team. Ask mc79 himself, he is already followed by a number of people who work for NHL teams. They know his work intimately.

3. Also, Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets GM, has gone so far as to post a public job posting for analysts and the like on the teams website.

4. From the contests confidentiality agreement:

“6. I hereby assign and agree to assign to RSC all of its right, title, estate and interest in and to all Intellectual Property created by me or communicated to me by any other employee, agent or member of RSC during the term of the Hackathon, whether it is capable of being patented or registered or not. I hereby waive all moral rights to the Intellectual Property in favour of RSC and waive any claims to have any right, title, or interest specifically in the material produced under the Hackathon.”

In other words, the Oilers will own every single idea and process that anyone involved in Hackathon comes up with. And they really won’t have to pay a cent to get any of those ideas or methods. Anyone entering this better know ahead of time that they are basically giving away any and all work they do to the Oilers. If they are someone who legitimately wants to do this kind of work in the future, they should probably stay away.

• They have to assign themselves intellectual property rights for this sort of contest (otherwise someone will sue them), but i agree that it is annoying.

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