Marian Hossa's third consecutive Stanley Cup finals is no accident
Courting of Marian Hossa began in Dale Tallon’s Montreal hotel room at last June’s draft. It was there that the Tallon, then general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, met seriously with agent Ritch Winter for the first time. It was there he let Winter know just how interested he was in signing Hossa .
It was an unusual arrangement. Hossa wouldn’t become a free agent until July 1, but his one-year deal with Detroit had come with a gentlemen’s agreement: He could negotiate with other teams if a longer-term deal with the Red Wings fell through.
Hossa’s instruction to Winter was simple: Find me a winner. Doing so, however, was a little more complicated.
When the Stanley Cup finals start on Saturday, Hossa will become the first player to play in three consecutive Stanley Cup finals for three different teams. A statistical oddity, yes. An accident? Not even close.
“When Marian hired us, one of his objectives consistently was to look for an elite organization to play for,” Winter said. “We do a statistical analysis of performance to determine (elite teams).”
Hossa and Winter weren’t about to leave this huge decision to chance — or feel. They, again, hand-picked Hossa’s next team based on an intense study.
Winter defines elite as a 100-point team, so he added Hossa’s expected statistical performance to the projected performance of each team’s current roster to find which teams would be contenders with him.
“You can, using statistical models, determine with a high degree of probability, the 100-point teams,” Winter said.
Winter, with help from mathematical advisors, has determined exactly how many points a contending team needs from its top six forward group and top four defensemen, and the save percentage required from a goalie to become a 100-point team.
For example, if all thresholds are met from the defensemen and goalies, a team that gets at least 143 goals from its top six forwards will get 100 points. According to Winter, that number has stayed true every year since the lockout. He has calculations like that for every position.
“I will make arguments to teams that they need a little more up front, that they need X, Y or Z and the models prove it out,” he said. “It’s a model we’ve developed using a little bit of Moneyball in hockey.”