Kremer’s two-year contract with Beauts a milestone for PHF — Mike Murphy talks WHKYHAC, Project Partner — Must-click women’s hockey links
The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, May 6, 2022
Welcome back to Hockey Friday. We’re nearing the beginning of the middle of the off-season for women’s hockey, which means that as things slow down, things also start to get interesting, especially for the Beauts. There’s so much content and information and all sorts of good and exciting things waiting in the wings — with no 2022 PHF Draft, what free agents will we see each team land? When will the two new expansion teams be announced? Where is the second expansion team going to be located? When will the PWHPA announce their league structure? Will they have a draft? Which 2022 university graduates will opt into that league?
Anyways, there’s a lot of speculation about all of those things. Today, though, I’m going to talk to you about some older news, and what it means for the PHF.
On Monday, the Buffalo Beauts announced the first signing of the 2022-23 PHF off-season: defender Dominique Kremer. Kremer, who served as an alternate captain for the Beauts in her second season with the team in 2021-22, also inked the first multi-year contract in league history, signing with the Beauts through the 2023-24 season.
“We are very fortunate that Dom is a Beaut for not one, but two more seasons,” said Beauts general manager Nate Oliver.
That last part is pretty huge and pretty pivotal. Throughout the PHF’s seven-and-a-bit year history, we haven’t seen a player guaranteed a contract longer than just one season. This wasn’t, of course, due to a lack of desire to play for a team longer than one year, but due to the fact that women’s hockey was pretty much none of these players’ full-time jobs. They all had careers outside of being professional hockey players, and, as anyone working in any field knows, things aren’t always guaranteed. There’s always the chance of relocation, of termination, of being laid off, or of finding a new, better opportunity elsewhere.
Now that the women’s hockey world is stabilizing just a little bit, and with the recent investment of $25 million into the PHF by the league’s Board of Governors, there’s the opportunity for women’s hockey players to make a living playing the game they love…and that means that they have the opportunity to sign those lengthier contracts because they don’t have to worry about uprooting their lives and not being able to fulfill their obligations to the team if something in their off-ice life changes.
Long story short: this is a good thing. And while Kremer was the first player to sign a multi-year contract in the league, she certainly won’t be the last.
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This Week in Women’s Hockey
2022 Top 25 Under 25 | The List (The Ice Garden)
Beauts sign Dominique Kremer, first of the 2022-23 season(The Ice Garden)
WCHA debuts new website (WCHA.com)
Former Team Canada coach named PHF Director of Hockey Ops (Just Women’s Sports)
Five at The IX: Mike Murphy
Friend of The IX and writer at The Ice Garden, Mike Murphy sat down with us to talk about the upcoming Women’s Hockey Analytics Conference (WHKYHAC) and the initiatives he and some colleagues started.
Question: Tell me a little bit about WHKYHAC, and how it came to fruition.
Mike Murphy: WHKYHAC was a natural successor to Alyssa Longmuir’s ISOLHAC and frequent collaboration and conversation between Alyssa, Carlie Markey, and myself. We learned from ISOLHAC that we can do a completely remote analytics conference and we wanted to see more than just a few projects centered around women’s hockey in this space. Each of us had given presentations at other conferences and we had talked about how we needed a conference of our own. So, we made one. That is how WHKYHAC got started. Just three folks who wanted to see something happen and combined their talents and efforts to make it happen.
Q: WHKYHAC recently announced a new initiative, called Project Partner, to bridge the gap between analysts and journalists by pairing them together to explore a topic in women’s hockey. How did you and the WHKYHAC team come up with this concept, and why do you think it is so important?
Murphy: We’re really excited about Project Partner! Last year, at WHKYHAC 1.0, we paired journalists and analysts for projects and it was a big hit. We saw a lot of great work come out of it and were able to get more analytics folks working with women’s hockey data and more women’s hockey writers using data – not to mention all of the networking and community building. This year, we wanted to go even further, which brings us to Project Partner. The idea this time around is to open it up to ALL content creators and to encourage folks to use data in their work and publish it wherever and however they want. We want folks to pitch stories, videos, art, projects, etc and to get paid for their work (if they can). It’s another way to grow this community and get more people using data and exploring different ways to use data.
Q: What advice do you have to aspiring journalists who are looking to get a foothold in analytics?
Murphy: I share this story with everyone but that’s because it is the truth. I’m bad at math and have always been bad at math. I started using data in my stories by asking questions and reading the work of others. I used simple concepts – like Corsi and primary points – to dip my toe into using data to tell stories and get comfortable. My advice would be don’t get intimidated by unfamiliar terms. Stats are just our way of recording events beyond the final score and every point of data needs context for it to be worthwhile and valuable. In other words, they need a story. So, I’d encourage aspiring journalists to start with simple concepts and dive in. Read the work of others doing data-driven analysis inside and outside of your sport. You can’t swim until you get into the water.
Q: You’ve done a lot of work tracking statistics across the PHF, PWHPA, and international competitions. What kind of work goes into making that data accessible for fans and other journalists?
Murphy: Most of my work for the 2021-22 season was focused on data integrity for the PHF and PWHPA data. What that means is reviewing box scores (if/when they exist) and going over film (if/when it exists) to make sure that scoring events, in particular, are accurate. It’s all about getting things as accurate as they can be within reason. Are the stats I tracked this year 100% accurate? Nope, but they’re better than they were before I worked on them and they’re better than nothing.
All of the data I track is free for everyone to use. Typically, I tweet about it (and post it on my Patreon) as a public Google sheet so that journalists, fans, coaches, players, and all other interested parties can get access to it as soon as it’s ready. Eventually, it also ends up on http://TheirHockeyCounts.com. The process is slow because the site is a two-person project but I am really proud of our work and the site. I started doing women’s hockey data in 2015-16. Seven years later, I’m still doing it. The support of our Patrons and DMs from appreciative players and fellow content creators is all the motivation I need to keep going. This all started as a passion project that somehow became a big part of my life. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
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