Canucks Army Contest: Our winning entry, the ‘Bieska’ rating

Grit personified.

We ran a contest at Canucks Army over the past 2 weeks, collecting entries for a “new stat” (particularly looking for one to quantify grit, because it’s great when analysts try to do that) with the winner receiving tickets to this Saturday’s Vancouver Canucks-Chicago Blackhawks game.

One entry stood above the rest. Our winning entry is @Sir_Earl‘s Bieska rating. We’ve re-printed his submission in full below:

The new statistic, called the Bieska (although many incorrectly assume that it is an acronym and write “BIESKA”), measures Don Cherry’s preference for players. Obviously the metric is based on toughness, but also takes into account other preferences of Don Cherry – place of birth (rewards good Canadian kids), visor use, his Leaf and Bruin homerism, and, of course, how easy or hard it is to pronounce the player’s name.


Bieska rating = [Toughness score] * [Place of Birth factor] * [Visor factor] * [Homer factor] / [Unpronounceable factor]

Toughness measures the stuff that Cherry features on Rock’Em Sock’Em series – hits and fights. The toughness score = Hits + (5 * Fighting Majors)

If you’ve paid close attention to Coach’s Corner, you may have noticed that Cherry has a slight bias against Europeans, and that he loves Canadians, especially from small towns. For Canadians, the Place of Birth factor is based on birthplace population: 1.5 for 1M+, 2.0 for 100k-1M, 2.5 for 10k-100k, 3.0 for 1k-10k, and 3.5 for < 1k. Americans get 1 and everyone else gets 0.5

Real hockey players don’t wear visors. So if you wear one your score is cut in half. If you don’t wear a visor your Visor factor is 1.

Cherry loves the Leafs and the Bruins. So if you ever played for either team your score is increased by 25%. If you played for both your score is increased by 50%. Otherwise the Homer factor is 1.

Don has difficulty with complicated names. The Unpronounceable factor is based on the Scrabble score for the player’s name. This factor is the denominator so a high Scrabble score lowers the Bieska rating.

As an example, in 2012/13, Kevin Bieksa has 60 hits and 2 fights, so his Toughness score is 70. He was born in Grimsby, ON, population 25,325, so his Place of Birth factor is 2.5. He does not wear a visor and hasn’t played for the Leafs or Bruins, so both these factors are 1. The Scrabble score for “KEVIN BIEKSA” is 24. Bieksa’s Bieska rating is (70 * 2.5 * 1 * 1) / 24 = 7.3

Top Bieksa Ratings (2012/13):

Player Team Toughness Place of Birth Visor Homer Scrabble Bieska Score
Chris Neil OTT 236 3 (Grey Highlands) 1 1 14 50.6
Steve Ott BUF 212 2.5 (Summerside) 1 1 11 48.2
Colton Orr TOR 143 2 (Winnipeg) 1 1.5 11 39
Matt Martin NYI 269 2 (Windsor) 1 1 14 38.4
Cody McLeod COL 164 3.5 (Binscarth) 1 1 21 38.4
Shea Weber NSH 122 3 (Sicamous) 1 1 17 35.9
Mark Fraser TOR 102 2 (Ottawa) 1 1.25 19 26.1
Tanner Glass PIT 141 2 (Regina) 1 1 12 25.8
Milan Lucic BOS 198 2 (Vancouver) 1 1.25 16 25.6
Travis Moen MTL 155 3.5 (Stewart Valley) 1 1 15 23.8

These are Cherry’s guys – all non-visor wearing Canadians with pronounceable names. Actually the top 66 players were Canadians. The top American was Mark Stuart (Bieska rating = 9.8) and the top Euro was outside the top 200 (Ladislav Smid, rating = 4.1).

Lowest Bieska Score (2012/13, min 24 games played):

Player Team Toughness Place of Birth Visor Homer Scrabble Bieska Score
Mikhail Grigorenko BUF 2 0.5 (Russia) 0.5 1 32 0.02
Wojtek Wolski WSH 5 0.5 (Poland) 0.5 1 33 0.04
Milan Hejduk COL 6 0.5 (Czech Republic) 0.5 1 28 0.05
Andrei Loktionov NJD 6 0.5 (Russia) 0.5 1 23 0.07
Marty Havlat SJS 6 0.5 (Czech Republic) 0.5 1 22 0.07
Roman Cervenka CGY 7 0.5 (Czech Republic) 0.5 1 24 0.07
Ilya Kovalchuk NJD 13 0.5 (Russia) 0.5 1 32 0.10
Loui Eriksson DAL 6 0.5 (Sweden) 0.5 1.25 16 0.12
Marcus Johansson WSH 14 0.5 (Sweden) 0.5 1 29 0.12
Ales Hemsky EDM 11 0.5 (Czech Republic) 0.5 1 22 0.13

I’ve never tuned in to HNIC on a Saturday night and seen Don say anything positive about this group. Just missing the bottom 10 were stars including: Malkin, Patty Kane, Selanne, Zetterberg, and the Sedins.

A few notes:

  • Of the top 10 in league scoring, only Chris Kunitz was in the top 300 in Bieska rating.
  • The Canucks aren’t very tough. Dale Weise and Aaron Volpatti were both in the top 20, but it drops off quickly after that. Bieksa, Kassian, and Sestito are in the Top 200. Jordan Schroeder scored a 0.2.
  • Leo Komarov had a top 10 Toughness score based on 176 hits (and no fights) and played for the Leafs, but dropped out of the Top 300 Bieska scores since he’s a visor-wearing Finn.
  • Highest Scrabble scores for names: Harry Zolnierczyk (49), Dave Dziurzynski (45), Zbynek Michaelek (43), Jake Muzzin (41), Alexei Ponikarovsky (41). Lowest: Lars Eller and Ian Cole (9).

Small town guys with solid Bieska ratings:

Player Team Place of Birth Population Bieska Score
Travis Moen MTL Stewart Valley, SK 76 23.8
Cody McLeod COL Binscarth, MB 425 23.5
Shane Doan PHX Halkirk, AB 121 16.6
Keith Aulie TBL Rouleau, SK 453 14.3
Jordin Tootoo DET Churchill, MB 813 9.5

Contest Runner-Up:

Unfortunately, we had no consolation prize, but reader @Julius312 also had a strong entry called WORT, or “height-adjusted utility”. He explains:

We all know the NHL is a rough place for small guys. Being 5’9″ I don’t feel short in every day life but if I played in the NHL I would be tied for the 13th shortest player. So, when a player like Martin St. Louis wins the Art Ross trophy he is playing “bigger” than his stature. His efforts inspire myself and motivate the rest of his teammates. Nathan Gerbe, who at 5’5″ is a whole two inches shorter than anyone else in the league, has 7 points in 12 games as of Oct. 30. That’s more than double the 3 points of Brian Boyle who has the god given, unfair advantage of being 6 foot 7.

This submission was worthy enough to get some recognition. Unsurprisingly, Martin St. Louis scored the highest in WORT. “He truly plays big,” writes Julius. “in WORT. He truly plays “big”. In fact, he was the only one to have a higher WORT than Crosby which means that if he was a few inches taller at Crosby’s 5’11” the title of “the best player in the world” would be his and not Sid the Kid’s.”

The stat’s remarkable discovery was that Tom Sestito makes more use of his size than Zdeno Chara does: “extra four inches really make a difference. If Chara was 5’9” instead of 6’9” I bet he would be a plugger in the Dutch league being turned inside out nightly by Dale Weise and not the Norris Trophy winner that he is.”

Thanks for the entries

We got some short paragraphs that made us laugh, such as the “Oilers blogger suspension predictor”. Congrats to @Sir_Earl, and we’ll see you Saturday for some pre-game beers. Again, much love to our friends at The Pint Vancouver (who you can follow on Twitter) for the tickets, and hopefully the Canucks come up with a good performance on home ice to justify all the time spent crafting the Bieska rating.

Editor’s Note: We’ll be running another contest sometime in December, with the prize once again being a pair of tickets. So if you fell short this time, or forgot to submit an entry, you’ll have another chance. 

  • Dimitri Filipovic

    Thanks guys, looking forward to the game.

    The bottom 10 names aren’t showing up.
    They are:
    Mikhail Grigorenko
    Wojtek Wolski
    Milan Hejduk
    Andrei Loktionov
    Marty Havlat
    Roman Cervenka
    Ilya Kovalchuk
    Loui Eriksson
    Marcus Johansson
    Ales Hemsky

  • Um, Aaron Volpatti doesn’t play for the Canucks. So it’s just Weise in the top 20.

    I wonder who the top ten teams in the NHL are in Bieska. I mean the Leafs and Bruins are there but that’s as it should be, I want to know who the others are.

    Also Cam you should post some of those short paragraphs that were funny.

    • Top teams in average score*:
      Bottom teams in average score:
      DET, NJ, EDM, VAN, CHI

      * Of players who played at least 24 GP, excluding any players who got traded mid-season, and Visor factor isn’t correct for a bunch of players (since I didn’t want to google image search every single one!)

  • This is great, Earl!

    The one thing I would change about Bieska (apart from making a contrived acronym for it just because) is that there should be a province coefficient too. A small-town Quebecker or BCer isn’t worth a fraction of a good Ontario boy in Cherry’s esteem (and I figure Don probably likes him some prairies too). I can’t even conceive of Cherry pronouncing phrases like “A good Ucluelet boy!” or “The pride of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu!” So I would throw in one more adjustment for province of origin too.

    Actually, I would also privilege the other four Original Six teams over everyone else but Boston and Toronto. Surely a Red Wing is worth more to Cherry than a Blue Jacket.

    …and how does Aaron Volpatti still get listed as a Canuck?

    • Good point on Cherry’s provincial bias. A Quebecois from my office pointed out the same thing – no way French Canadians would get a good score. For version 2 I guess.

      I wanted to work with a full season so these stats are from last year, so Volpatti was included.