Pour one out for the homies. Photo Courtesy: Money Puck
We’ve lost two more of our best, and congratulations are in order.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) December 6, 2015
It’s dizzying to think of how far CanucksArmy.com has come as a site in the span of five years, not just in terms of our readership, but also in terms of what our contributors have gone on to do.
We’re now up to eight former contributors who have gone on to full-time roles in the industry. Two of those contributors are now full-time media hacks, including myself and Vancouver Province digital editor Patrick Johnston. Five of those contributors have gone on to full-time jobs with NHL-level organizations, including Dimitri Filipovic, Cam Charron, Rob Pettapiece, and now Weissbock and Money Puck. Another former site editor, Rhys Jessop, is currently working in an analyst role with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL.
Josh and Money Puck both made their Canucks Army debuts during the 2013-14 season. It was a golden era for our not-so-humble hockey blog, as we boasted a cast of front-office bound analysts that included Charron, Filipovic and Pettapiece (though Pettapiece’s contributions were limited after 2012-13 by his clandestine work with the Soo Greyhounds). In the summer of 2014 our site and the Nation Network lost a plethora of writers to front office jobs during the gold rush that was ‘the sumer of analytics’, but we also added Rhys Jessop, Weissbock and Money Puck.
In the years since Charron, Tyler Dellow and Eric Tulsky were snapped up by NHL clubs, its been common to hear hockey media types bemoan the lack of innovative new analysis available on-line. Ironically, I always felt like Canucks Army never really sustained the hit we probably should’ve. Though their work never seemed to attract the same level of controversy and attention as that produced by the first wave of hockey analytics hires; Rhys, Josh and Money Puck just kept on quietly innovating.
Weissbock and Money Puck – and Rhys as well – were always particularly interested in prospect analysis: Josh was solely a prospect writer in his first year at the site, and Money Puck’s first column was looking at the impact of team quality on the too-low draft ranking of late first-round pick Nikita Scherbak (though he provided data to a Jessop post about Jake Virtanen and Nikolaj Ehlers a week earlier). Eventually Josh and Rhys started kicking around the idea of producing an objective system to analyze amateur-level prospects. Money Puck’s skeptical nature and uncanny ability to ask the right questions then helped to fine tune and add depth to this approach.
The birth of what ultimately became the PCS model and the calling card for this group of analysts happened almost by accident. At the very least the initial iteration of the model was tongue in cheek.
It started with a collaborative joke between Rhys and Josh, who weren’t necessarily looking to change the way we discussed prospects. They were just trying to figure out an objective, engaging way to rate the draft performance of NHL teams, hoping to shed some light on how poorly the Canucks had fared over the past 10 years.
We all sort of knew that the team had been at a loss at the draft table for a generation, but we didn’t really know the extent of it until Rhys – with the help of Josh – invented fictional intern Sham Sharron.
The Sham Sharron article remains the most read piece in the history of the site, and it provided the basis from which the PCS model was conceived of and built upon by Money Puck and Josh (with some of Rhys’ ideas proving very influential). You can read more about PCS here. Losing access to this resource is a significant step back for our site, sadly. The PCS machine gave us a massive competitive advantage over every other media outlet in the industry, both at the Draft and in analyzing prospects during the summer.
I’m not really sure how our site has managed to identify and employ so many highly regarded analysts during the formative stages of their careers, but it’s something we’re very proud of. I like to think that our focus on providing data-driven analysis of Canucks hockey eventually helped a group of smart, like-minded folks to congeal at the site, and that through working together and discussing hockey and data at length, we produced some good work, came up with some interesting ideas, and collectively improved.
Maybe we just got lucky though.
While we’re proud of our recent history and our story, this is a moment for Josh and Money Puck.
Josh’s work modelling lower levels of hockey was indispensable, and I’ll miss his (extremely dark) sense of humour: whether he’s just trolling the CanucksArmy slack (We Are All Jeffler) or linking me to the latest funny Reddit comments in gchat. Beyond the jokes, the indecipherable prose and the expert coding, Josh is also a committed athlete with a generous, fun-loving spirit. He was the main impetus and the driving force behind the #CanucksMOTB drive that we ran this fall, in which we raised over $2000 for Mindcheck.ca.
As for Money Puck, he was never paid for his work, though we offered him compensation on several occasions. He preferred to have any money we offered to him directed towards younger members of the staff though, which speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.
Both former contributors will still be attending VANHAC, and they won’t be disappearing entirely off of Twitter (or in the comment sections). We’ll still miss their contributions enormously, and we’ll miss them personally even more than we’ll miss the resources they took with them.
And now we’ll turn our sights towards the future, and on developing the next generation of must-read hockey analysts. We’re in the process of having conversations with a variety of potential new contributors, and hopefully we have some news to announce on those fronts in the weeks to come. If you’d like to contribute to Canucks Army, and especially if you have the ability to code and model, please contact me at [email protected]
We couldn’t be more excited for Josh and Money Puck. They’re as good, smart and hard-working a pair of analysts as you’re likely to meet. We’re also proud of what we’ve built in this corner of the internet and of what our contributors have gone on to accomplish. It’s flattering that organizations around the hockey world – CHL, NHL, major media outlets – have recognized a wide variety of Canucks Army alumni and deemed their work useful. I think that’s proof that we’re on the right track.
Good luck Josh and Money Puck, we’ll miss you.