When a topic re-surfaces that I’ve written about before, I occasionally re-purpose that article (with permission) on Backhand Shelf. This originally ran in November of 2009 on Hockey Primetime.com, and is being re-used because there’s been some discussion about Maple Leafs’ defenseman Mark Fraser leading the NHL in plus/minus – a fairly goofy stat.
In every sport, there are always a few unwritten rules amongst the players that go unnoticed by the casual fan.
In the case of hockey, “plus/minus etiquette” is one of those rules that get governed within the confines of the team.
If the referee misses your assist, or didn’t notice that you tipped a shot from the blue line, official stats can be changed after the game. In the professional ranks each goal is reviewed, and goals and assists are handed out accordingly. That’s why a game’s boxscore is temporarily termed “unofficial.”
However, this same scrutiny is not used to determine plus/minus. It’s determined by some guy with a handful of popcorn, looking at his iPhone and updating his twitter status with “I have a handful of popcorn.” Then when he gets it wrong, your agent has to explain to every GM in the summer why you were minus-6 on an above-.500 team, when you may have actually been a plus. Read the rest of this entry »