With that being said, if you were paid to be a scout at any level, there's no way you would base your decisions on players based on their Corsi...even over an entire season.
You're absolutely right, I wouldn't. And the lower in levels one goes, the less relevance I think Corsi and its ilk have. But I've never said that Corsi is the end-all anyway, even in the NHL. Here's how I evaluate players, in general:
Hopefully, I've seen the player and remember something about him - his general style of play. I'll go to behindthenet and get his 'player card' - this will tell me his Corsi, Zone Start, Quality of Competition, and Quality of Teammates. I have undefined benchmarks for these things, but basically to try to judge if a player's keeping his head above water, I'll see if he's starting more often in the defensive or offensive zone, who he's playing with, who he's playing against, and where his Corsi ends up, both absolutely and relative to his teammates. Then I'll pop on over to hockeyanalysis to see WoWYs - that's with or without you - to see - do players do better with him or without him? Now there's a lot of issues that come in with this measure - for an example, Petr Sykora looks better than people like Elias and Zubrus, but that's in part because Sykora was pulled off late in games last year when the Devils had a lead. This will make his Fenwick/Corsi look better by comparison because teams are ahead tend to be outshot.
Again, I'm not saying it's "BS", useless, etc, but I do believe that it's foolish to judge a player's "overall effectiveness" on a stat.
Again, I wouldn't do that either - I do not say 'Player A has a better Corsi/Fenwick than Player B, therefore he is better'. Also these things leave out special teams, which can be awfully important (and the stats community really hasn't figured out how to measure special teams at the individual level). But I will definitely think if a player is being driven backwards significantly, and isn't being started a ton in the defensive zone, isn't playing with overly rotten teammates, and isn't being sent out against the other team's best a huge amount, that it's unlikely he's a good NHLer or a guy I'd want to have on my team.
I've played hockey most of my 26 year life, and I've been a coach since graduating college. I would never attempt to explain to you who my best players are by their +/-, corsi, fenwick, etc. That's just the way it is.
I wouldn't do that either - as I said above, the lower level you go, the less Fenwick matters, and here's why:
A) The effectiveness of Fenwick as a measure depends on the idea that 'shot quality' doesn't exist at the NHL level - that is to say that NHL defenses are so good that basically how many shots you give up is what counts. No one's found an argument for shot quality existing in a significant way at the NHL level. But at lower levels, I imagine it exists more and more - as more defensive errors result in odd-man rushes and breakaways and so forth, shot quality becomes a bigger deal.
B) The effectiveness of this stat also to a degree assumes that all goalies are equal, something which is less likely to be the case as the gap between talent widens, as it would in lower leagues.
C) We know score effects - that teams who lead tend to be outshot, whereas teams who trail tend to outshoot - exist in the NHL, but that's because NHL teams are bunched together tightly in terms of competition. But in lower levels, where the gaps tend to be wider, we can't assume score effects still hold true. Plus as talent gaps widen, scores widen, and it's hard to generate anything meaningful territorial stat wise in blowouts. They just don't happen often in the NHL.
The Rangers just told the media they use 'Nielson Numbers' - that's where a player gets a plus for a positive play and a negative for a negative play - I imagine if I coached, I'd try to use something like this to guide me somewhat, but the eyes tell a lot more at lower level hockey. This would just be a way of codifying what the eyes are seeing.
and if I coached hockey, you would never hear me talk about Fenwick or Corsi to a player. There are tools for evaluating players which have no relevance in the actual on-field/ice production. WAR in baseball measures how many wins a particular player contributes over a 'replacement player' - it's way better at evaluating MLB players than any scout could possibly be. It's not perfect, but it beats humans. Still, it would be absurd for a manager to talk about increasing a player's WAR - WAR is made up of many things, hitting, fielding, baserunning, etc. - he should be trying to improve at these individual elements. So too with Fenwick/Corsi - a player shouldn't be looking to, absent other forces, direct more pucks at the opponent's net and have fewer directed at their own net. They should be better at back-checking, at stick-checking, at staying in position, at breaking the puck out of the zone, at passing the puck prudently versus shooting it, and so forth. Fenwick and Corsi just take all of this into account, because what matters in the end is having the puck and putting it on the opponent's net - my argument in here has been that Stephen Gionta hasn't been doing that enough.
But mostly, I'm confused why so many people on this board think assessing players has to be one way or the other. If we can agree that neither stats nor watching the game can tell a player's story in its entirety, why not adopt both as valid?
I don't think it has to be one way or another. I don't reject the eyes completely. But I let my eyes inform the stats and the stats inform my eyes. If I see a guy's struggling numbers-wise, I try to look for why. Ditto if I think a guy is sucking but the numbers are telling me he isn't.
Edited by Triumph, 20 February 2013 - 12:39 PM.