13 April 2010

The Pain Game

Injury stats update – end of season awards

This is the final update for the 2009/10 regular season looking at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

(The corresponding analysis as at the end of February 2010 can be viewed HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Yes, I'm still doing the extra bit ...

Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.

While acknowledging cap charge is a less than perfect measure of player, with a number of limitations and inconsistencies, I'm not totally sold on TOI/G as being any better overall (I'm guessing Mike Mottau isn't a significantly more important player to the Devils than Zach Parise) - it does provide a decent comparison and the results do vary from the CHIP rankings somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:

  • TOI/G replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on)
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (e.g. Mike Van Ryn) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (Kurt Sauer), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...

The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team over the 2009/10 regular season
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • Movement in CHIP ranking since 28 February
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)

10 second analysis...

Rather predictably, the Oilers manage to hold on to their big lead and easily claim the much-coveted title of The Most Injured Team in the NHL 2009/10.

Interestingly, despite a clearly horrendous run of injuries this year, neither the Oilers' total man-games lost nor CHIP figure would have ranked #1 last year (see HERE for the 2008/09 rankings).

Also, while the aggregate CHIP figure league-wide was just shy of $200m, this is still $25m lower than the corresponding figure for 2008/09 - perhaps unexpected given all the conjecture earlier in the season about an injury epidemic and the effect of the Olympic break.

At the other end, largely thanks to a late injury to Ryan Malone, the Rangers clinch an unprecedented (OK, only two years of compiling this doesn't give much opportunity for precedent...) second consecutive 30th place finish. Something the esteemed GM of the team has seemingly been straining to achieve in the real NHL standings for the last 10 years, without success. Not for want of trying.

Again, there doesn't appear to be much more than a weak correlation between the extent of injuries and a team's position in the standings - the three healthiest teams all missed the playoffs, for example. (The dubious sanity of the GMs in question has not been allowed for here.)

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

P-M Bouchard's virtually season-long concussion results in his leading of the CHIP table. Ricky DP's "flu" - yes, that's "flu" - not quite emerging soon enough to trouble the podium. There's always next year, eh Rick? And the next 12...

I suspect next year's figures will no longer be distorted by the impact of Mike Rathje's unretired corpse. This may or may not be due to Paul Holmgren re-signing him to be the Flyers' next saviour in goal.


Finally, another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.

  • Figures include (and are arguably distorted by) some players on long-term IR, such as Mike Rathje. They do exclude a few minor-leaguers who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I did the best I could with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery, Randy Jones), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of hockeybuzz.com and capgeek.com