Two years ago, shortly after Ron Hextall was put in charge of hockey operations with the Flyers, we reported on the hiring of Ian Anderson as the team's manager of hockey analytics. But we've never really learned a lot about his role with the team.
Anderson has never done an interview with the media since taking the job, and a request from BSH to interview him the summer he was hired was calmly ignored by the Flyers. In fact, in the same email in which I requested an interview with Anderson, I also requested a one-on-one with Hextall, thinking I'd probably get the Anderson interview and that the ask for Hextall was a bit of a shot at the moon.
But ... well, a week later I was on the phone with Hextall and not Anderson, so I asked the general manager about his new hire.
"I don't really want to talk specifically about what we do or what's important to us, whatever," Hextall said. "But I think we all know kind of what's out there and it's all intriguing. I think there are individual things we can use for individual players. There's also some team stuff that we'll use but I don't care to elaborate on it any more than that."
And that makes sense. These things are a competitive advantage for teams and as a result they tend to be very secretive about what they do. Unfortunately for us, we never really get much insight to what's going on. But here we sit two hockey seasons later, and it's apparently clear that the Flyers like what Anderson is doing. And it appears as though they're expanding his department.
Comcast-Spectacor on Monday listed a job opening for a Database Systems Developer, which sounds about as exciting as a New Jersey Devils game. But here's the description:
The Philadelphia Flyers are seeking a qualified candidate who possesses a deep knowledge of database and programming expertise to help develop tools and resources for the team’s Hockey Operations department. This individual will collaborate with current staff in the maintenance and expansion of the current information system.
So, in a nutshell, they're looking for help organizing and wrapping their heads around the internal data that they're collecting about the game. This is good stuff to see from the Flyers, and it's great that they're investing more in this side of the game. The NHL is a tough, close league and analytics are a way to gain a real competitive edge.
h/t Arik Parnass