With several of its analysts having been picked up by NHL front offices and/or mainstream media outlets in the “summer of analytics”, Hockey Prospectus is opening up 2015 in a search for the next generation. There are several compelling reasons why this opportunity is particularly unique, why the timing is right, and why this should be of interest to aspiring new writers.
First and foremost, if you’ve got something to write about hockey, what does that mean if you don’t have the right audience with whom to share it? Every analyst needs to build his or her brand and, for many, Hockey Prospectus might be the best place to build it.
Writing for the most established website dedicated to hockey analytics, and having work featured on ESPN, on radio shows and podcasts, and published in an annual year book, are all ways to reach a larger audience, build credibility, and establish the brand needed to reach the next level. That’s why so many Hockey Prospectus alumni have moved on to front offices, mainstream media, and related pursuits recently.
As for me, I’m one of the founding writers, have written over 200 articles here, and have co-authored all five books, so I feel uniquely qualified to present the reasons why it makes sense to write for Hockey Prospectus. Let’s start right there actually, with my own personal story.
I was recruited by founding editor Andrew Rothstein in November, 2008. Hockey Prospectus was yet to launch, but he, Will Carroll, Joe Walsh, and David Driscoll-Carignan were well into the planning stages. Ultimately things would move forward without the latter two.
Andrew knew me from the Hockey Analysis Group (HAG) discussion forum that Iain Fyffe had started on Yahoo in April of 2004. It was one of only two places for hockey analytics folks to congregate at the time, the other being the Oilogosphere. Andrew extensively recruited from HAG, successfully enticing Gabriel Desjardins, Tom Awad, and Iain himself as founding writers. For me, having greater access to those great minds alone made this opportunity worthwhile.
I enjoyed writing for Puck Prospectus, as it was initially branded, right from the start. There were not a lot of places to post my work back then, and I loved having an audience with whom to share it, especially through our deal with ESPN. It was also my first writing experience, beyond some work-related stuff about Oracle databases, and our Baseball Prospectus cousins helped me hone that craft.
I’m not sure who came up with the name for my column (Howe and Why), but it was a big hit with me. I was excited to publish all of my earlier innovations, like quality starts and advances in league translations (NHLe) and historical player projections. I was equally excited to develop brand new statistics, often building off the work of my colleagues, like with goals versus salary (GVS), for example. There was a great deal of synergy between us, and we accomplished far more than we did when working in isolation.
Those were really great times! It was in summer 2009 that I had my first contact with an NHL team (thanks to Gabe and Tom), and it was a thrill to have a platform that went far beyond the few dozen members on Iain’s discussion forum, and into the boardrooms of the league’s front offices. I wish I could describe just how it felt when we published our first book one year later, Hockey Prospectus 2010-11, but there’s a reason I write about statistics instead of producing paperback novels. Suffice it to say that it was a special treat to insert that item onto my bookshelf next to my worn-out copies of Total Hockey and The Hockey Compendium, not to mention distributing copies to my family and friends.
Based on that experience, here are the reasons why my own path with Hockey Prospectus may prove to be compelling for you, too.
Reason 1: Get Exposure
It’s easy to get lost in the mix these days! There may be a lot more websites to write for now relative to when I got my start, but none of them are devoted to hockey analytics. Instead, many analysts start a blog of their own and promote it, or choose to write for a website that’s team-specific and/or where analytics might take the back seat. That might work for those who like to spend as much time on promotion as they do on analysis, or who don’t mind getting lost in endless site feeds and twitter streams.
Writing for Hockey Prospectus means being bookmarked by everyone in the hockey analytics community. People know what they’re getting when they come here, which is why it also attracts those outside our community who want to stay up to speed on so-called fancy stats without having to visit dozens of blogs and/or having to search through pages of more standard coverage.
Reason 2: Get Published on ESPN
Further to the first point, Hockey Prospectus has been the go-to source of hockey analytics for ESPN Insider ever since its inception. Thanks to all the opportunities that stem from having several regular and established series, such as the Power Rankings, Plugging the Holes, Summer Skate, Deadline Fixes, and Inside the Projections, not to mention regularly-scheduled stand-alone features, this is no empty promise, nor a carrot planted beyond reach. Everybody gets this great opportunity!
Writing for ESPN is a great way to get exposure, establish credibility, build a brand, and gain a following. There are so many opportunities for additional coverage through ESPN, such as when someone like Craig Custance questions front offices about your work, when you get the opportunity to cover a game (or the draft) from the press box, or when your analysis is mentioned on TV or Radio.
Reason 3: Be Heard
ESPN isn’t the only great place to get exposure, promote work, and build a brand through radio appearances and podcasts – Hockey Prospectus can facilitate that directly with HP radio, and indirectly through all of its friends, partners, and alumni. Matt Coller and HP alumni Richard Pollock have their own shows, for example, while John Fischer and Kent Wilson have helped arrange podcast appearances.
Having your work featured here will lead to many more opportunities, too. For example, I made my radio debut in the summer of 2011 with Nashville 104.5 the Zone (now known as 102.5 the Game). Host Willy Daunic, now the Preds’ play-by-play man, enjoyed something I wrote, and wanted to share it with his listeners. Since then I’ve appeared as a radio or podcast guest in most NHL cities, and it’s definitely among my favorite stat-related activities.
Reason 4: Get Published in Print
In addition to the airwaves, another great medium to which Hockey Prospectus facilitates access is in print. The Hockey Prospectus annual was first published for the 2010-11 season, has been a hit all five seasons since, and is on the majority of desks throughout front offices and mainstream media outlets around the league.
To my knowledge, there are no other annual publications devoted completely to hockey analytics. Even among those competitors that include a significant statistical component, there are very few, if any, websites that currently offers opportunities to contribute to it.
Reason 5: Get Access to Experts
Perhaps the best part of working with Hockey Prospectus is being part of a team. It’s not just the friendships and the camaraderie, which in fairness can be achieved almost anywhere, but also having fellow number-lovers providing you with exclusive data, reviewing your work, guiding you with invaluable information and advice, and building on your discoveries.
Writing for Hockey Prospectus gets you instant access to a network of valuable contacts, including HP alumni who currently work in front offices or mainstream media, prominent analysts writing for virtually every media outlet that covers hockey, and the current staff of writers – including the next generation of big names in analytics, like Arik Parnass, Ryan Stimson, Sam Hitchcock, and Micah Blake McCurdy.
Reason 7: Open Doors
Ultimately, whether your aspirations are to get a position with the mainstream media, in an NHL front office, or elsewhere, writing for Hockey Prospectus has proven to be a successful path.
Just this past year, five Hockey Prospectus alumni were hired by and/or consulted with NHL front offices – Brian Macdonald, Eric Tulsky, Corey Sznajder, Matt Pfeffer, and Timo Seppa. Corey Pronman and I both got jobs and PHWA memberships with ESPN, and Iain Fyffe authored or co-authored three books. Whatever you want to do, Hockey Prospectus has helped a lot of people get there in the past.
You love hockey analytics, but what do you want to do that passion? Write a book, work for a team, cover the sport for mainstream media, or maybe just have an audience to share your analytics hobby with? Whatever you’re looking for, some of our community’s biggest names found it with Hockey Prospectus.
There are a lot of great websites from which to choose, but none of them offer the same package in terms of reputation, credibility, exposure, radio, podcasts, mainstream promotion (ESPN), an annual hockey year book, and access to a huge network of established names. Whether you’re a hobbyist or want to build a career, Hockey Prospectus could be the right place to start building your brand.
if you are interested in contributing to Hockey Prospectus, email managing editor Matthew Coller: MatthewColler AT Gmail or contact him on Twitter @matthewwgr. Also see our “About Us” page for a list of contributors