When the Arizona Coyotes gave then 26-year old John Chayka their GM job, many in the hockey world cringed at the thought of the analytic community finally having a poster boy at the top of an NHL franchise. Chayka promised to bring with him the newer possession-based analysis of NHL players, and today summed it up quite nicely in an interview with Dan Rosen of NHL.com:
“The philosophy is fairly simple. It’s when we don’t have the puck, recover the puck as quickly as possible. There are all kinds of different forms where you can gain possession of the puck, some of them are physical and some of them are non-physical, so I think you need a blend to have both. Once you get the puck back it’s to transition the puck. Defense isn’t about defending, it’s about getting the puck in the forwards’ hands and getting the puck moving into the offensive zone. It’s about transitioning.”
The phrase “defense isn’t about defending” will stick out as a sort of mantra for the analytics push, as the league continues to move away from players who can impose themselves physically in their own end, but can’t move the puck when they end up with it. His team has added Alex Goligoski, a possession darling who moves the puck well, but has also signed Luke Schenn and Jamie McGinn, both players who aren’t so revered for their new-age skills. It’ll be interesting to watch what Chayka does in the future, and whether he breeds a level of success rarely seen in the desert of Arizona.
- The Chicago Wolves of the AHL have hired former NHLers Darryl Sydor and Daniel Tkaczuk as assistant coaches for 2016-17, adding to a group that is led by Craig Berube. The St. Louis Blues affiliate went 33-35-8 last season, and will look to improve on that record this year. Sydor, a 19-year NHL veteran played in over 1200 games in his career, and has been coaching as an assistant with the Minnesota Wild for the past five seasons. Tkaczuk, an AHL journeyman who made it into just 19 NHL games during his career, coached with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL last season.
- Jordan Eberle has hired the “Shot Doc” to help him with his shooting ability for next season. Ron Johnson, a skills coach who has worked with Joe Pavelski and Ryan Kesler in the past has been known for improving things like grip mechanics and puck protection. If Eberle can improve on the 14.5% shooting percentage he put up last season, he could climb back above the 30-goal mark for the second time in his career. Eberle has 145 career goals in 425 games, and is a near-lock for 25 each season.