Congratulations to Money Puck and Josh Weissbock, the latest CA alumni to graduate to the bigs

Pour one out for the homies. Photo Courtesy: Money Puck

We’ve lost two more of our best, and congratulations are in order.

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It’s dizzying to think of how far 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

  • wojohowitz

    These type of job opportunities given out to bloggers must be truly appalling to writers who spent years and dollars in school learning the basic principles of sentence and story structure only to find out the deadwood industry is dying and jobs are very scarce. I keep an eye on JPat`s blog just to see if he can rebound back into the media.

    • Congrats. It’s a shame to lose these guys, and it’s been pretty amazing to see the number of writers from CanucksArmy who’ve gone on to bigger and better things.

      [edit] Dangit I did not intentionally quote wojohowitz’s pointlessly crappy, condescending post.

    • The lesson, as always, is don’t invest years and your own dollars in any schooling program that doesn’t have a clear path to gainful employment after graduation.

      As for MoneyPuck and Josh, they didn’t get media jobs. They got jobs that match their specialized skill sets in data mining and analysis. Their new opportunity has zero to do with an increasingly difficult landscape for journalists

      I’m sure going on a negative piss-baby rant and offering a misguided defense of JPat – whose work we all respect and enjoy, and we hope he lands on his feet in short order – felt good. Kind of like taking a dump feels good. In the future though, we’d all appreciate it if you just kept your s*** to yourself.

      • While I agree with your general sentiments, I think this statement “The lesson, as always, is don’t invest years and your own dollars in any schooling program that doesn’t have a clear path to gainful employment after graduation” makes you sound painfully ignorant.

        Educating yourself, expanding your understanding in almost any direction, is always a good thing. There’s so much more to life than work and money… but then again, you might never learn that if the only reason you learn things is because you want a better job 😛

        • Andy

          Your statement proves you didn’t get the point Thomas was making.

          Education is for learning, not ‘job-setting’. If you go to journalism school and expect to graduate directly into a beat-writing position because you “did the time”, then you’re a. Misled, and b. Going to be disappointed.

          Say what you want about the bloggers in a basement stereotype. It’s the work, not the educational background that got writers like Patrick Johnston, Thomas Drance, Josh Weissbock and others theirs reporting jobs.

  • wojohowitz

    Congratulations guys! I’ll definitely miss your columns on here. Hopefully CA can find some great new talent to fill the very large void that will be left.

  • andyg

    Wow, congrats! But selfishly… really, really upset to hear that Canucks Army is losing the PCS model. I guess that’s a testament to how good it is.

    For my money, the most effective fan-focused stats models are the ones that are fairly straightforward to understand on the surface despite how complex they might be below the surface. PCS managed to do this in spades. Easy to understand the basic measurement concepts, widely applicable/comparable across a huge variety of feeder leagues, and all summed up in one or two figures.

    Truly one of the best prospect measurement tools out there (only other one I can think of that’s demonstrated publicly is Scott Cullen’s draft pick value tool, and a lot of that numerical measurement is subjective), and they deserve to be rewarded for it. But such a shame to lose the tool.

  • RandomScrub

    Congratulations — it’s disappointing we won’t be able to see up close how the PCS model gets adjusted as it’s tested out further; particularly interesting will be how goalies and other leagues will be incorporated more fully into the model. But kudos to you for getting snapped up and to CA for attracting some great talents, no matter the anti-blog snark. I might not always agree with you but at its best CA can push some really provocative and productive ways of thinking about the team and sport I love the most.

  • andyg

    I think it’s great when someone can earn a living off doing what they dream of doing.
    I wonder what they are being paid? What is the going rate for this job? If it is 100s of thousands then whoo boy, time to start coming up with my own statistical model.

  • RandomScrub

    Wow, congrats boys.

    The PCS system is excellent and I was looking forward to seeing it employed for next years draft and comparing that to what teams actually do.

    I guess if the model is becoming proprietary to one team or another we won’t get to see that, though. And, I’m assuming that they developed the model together and have as such been hired in tandem?

  • I was wondering when they would get hired away. You can’t be so public with useful information until someone decides they want to make it proprietary.

    Congratulations on them finding work in something they are passionate about. A rare occurrence these days.