Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An FJM Special Presentation

To celebrate the opening of the 2009-2010 NHL season, I have done something horrific.

I have created 100% original content that contains no outside sports writing. You should probably get up and go now, as I doubt you will have time to BM during this riveting post.

This post started as a simple insult on my beloved Blues. It then very quickly escalated to a spreadsheet with rules. But before I feel that I can crown the worst team in hockey, there are some caveats about how I came to my conclusion. Remember that this idea was bred out of a google chat, so if I saw "we," I am referring to a Stars fan in Australia.

We started thinking about using win-loss records for every team, then dividing by the years they have been in the league. How simple! Until you think back on the last couple of decades. The league had win-loss-tie. Then win-loss-tie-overtime loss. Then win-loss-shootout loss. Clearly, this was not the way to do it.

In a flash of brilliance - most likely fueled by the blood of koalas - my friend comes up with using playoff wins. Playoff wins have been the way to the Cup, and you don't get to play Columbus or Atlanta 6 times in the playoffs if they are in your division.

We decided to add a point system to playoff wins. One point for every game won in the first round, two points in the second, three in the third and four in the Stanley Cup Finals. Pretty straightforward.

The days following the initial idea were spent trying to figure out different things. At first, I wanted to include a team's entire life in their stats. The Stars stats would include Dallas and Minnesota, The Devils would have Kansas City, the Coyotes would have Winnipeg, etc. But teams trying to sell themselves dump players and payroll, and relocating teams will often suck hard. My other brass ring in the argument for keeping pre-move teams out of the stats is Patrick Roy being traded to Colorado - I have to agree with the thinking that Roy would not have been moved to the franchise if they were still in Quebec.

My first formula for factoring against time was to add weight not only to playoff wins, but also to playoff losses. A team would get 1 point for a first round win, but lose 4 points for losing a first round game. The totals wouldn't necessarily be positive numbers, but it would show what teams win in the playoffs and what teams lose. My goal was to find the worst team in the NHL, not the best. After putting in the first set of numbers, I was talked out of this and convinced that a much easier formula of total points divided by years the team has spent in the league would be as effective.

A couple of quick notes:

1) I started the Original Six era in 1927, when the Arenas changed their name to the Maple Leafs. Really, I don't care too much about the Original Six, because with all of the alleged corruption and lack of other teams, there is no way that any of them would be found to be statistically worst in the NHL.
2) There were only 3 playoff rounds until 1974, so I worked in reverse. Stanley Cup wins were 4 points, semifinal wins were three, and quarterfinal wins were 2.
3) Only 2 games were played in early quarterfinal games, so if both teams won 1 game, total points were used to determine a winner. In the event of a two-legged tie, Each team was given 1 quarterfinal win for 2 points.
4) From 1974 to 1981, a preliminary round was played for some teams to get into the division finals. These were treated as first round games.
5) All of my win-loss data came from Wikipedia, so I have to assume it's accurate.

So with all of that, here is your Worst Team in the NHL data:

It's no surprise that Atlanta and Columbus are here, they haven't won a playoff game. I don't really think it's fair to crown these young franchises as the worst. There should be a "should have known better" decision to factor in here. And really, only one team is sticking out to me.

The Los Angeles Kings.

When you look at the teams that are surrounding the Kings, there is no excuse for them to be so low. The Wild are right there and they haven't been to the Stanley Cup finals in the little time they have been in the league. The Kings consistently fizzle out before the Conference Finals, have won one game in the Stanley Cup Finals, and are now The Worst Team in in the NHL. Way to go, guys!

Go ahead and argue away in the comments, but I doubt there will be anybody here to stick up for the Kings. I feel sick that I have accidentally crowned the Avalanche as the best team, but the numbers are what they are.


Anonymous said...

Well the Aves are helped by the fact that you seem to only have taken into consideration their time in Colorado and not their time in Quebec as well.

Since they won the cup almost immediately after moving to Colorado, wiping out their history before the move, you're going to have skewed stats.

Same goes for Dallas and Phoenix (except they had their good seasons wiped out). So the "real" best franchise (IMO) is Montreal. 83 years of history considered and it's nearly as good as the best 14 years Quebec/Colorado ever had. Insane.

The best part about the bottom part of the list is that only one of the bottom teams is getting better: Columbus. Atlanta is awful, Nashville is getting worse, Florida, Tampa and Phoenix are all pathetic.

Jarrett said...


Teams move because they switch owners, and that usually happens after the expensive parts of the payroll are purged. I found it wrong to penalize Colorado for what somebody in Quebec City did.

Your revelation about the worst of the worst, however, puts my statistical manipulation to shame.

Martin said...

If you don't penalize a team for switching locations when it gets a new owner, then why penalize a team that stays in it's location when it switches owners? The Kings have been through 6 owners, why not just count the AEG years? Then they become...the Columbus Blue Jackets. Still pathetic, but at least it remains true to the idea of not making a new owner pay for the previous ones mistake.

However. Isn't that what makes a franchise bad? Continual lousyness, despite new owners, management, arenas, and even moves? That's what makes the Kings so sad, that DESPITE ownership changes, they still can't get it right for a 3-5 year stretch. You really need to include the past history of franchises that moved, and wasn't Dallas owned by the same guy when they moved from Minnesotta?

Other then those quibbles, it's interesting. Though one great 6 year run has placed the Islanders far too high on the list. They've been a 20 year shit storm riding on the coat tails of Bossy, Smith, and the rest.

Adam said...


You are right that teams usually move because they switch owners and that is the case for the Nordiques.

However, the new Colorado owners aquired one of the best teams in the NHL at the time, with no payroll dump. The Nordiques had the second most points in the NHL during the shortened 1994-1995 season. Except for Patrick Roy, the core of those Avs teams were already Nordiques including Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote and Valeri Kamensky.

So in short, I think you should include the Quebec years because the Avs owners didn't build a hockey dynasty, they simply bought a team that was already loaded and sealed the deal by adding a great goltender.

Jarrett said...

Martin - I would think that an owner buying a team with the idea of keeping them in town thinks they can make the team a money maker. I have heard, although cannot substantiate, that teams break even in the regular season and make a profit in the playoffs.

And Yes, Norm Green moved the Stars himself, seeking more money. He was playing in a 15,000 seat arena and moved them to a dumpy 17,000 seat arena because he couldn't get the North Stars moved to the Target Center.

Adam - Including the Quebec years would seemingly make sense for their case, as it would at least drop the Avalanche down in the ratings. It kind of falls into an elementary school candy situation, though. If I were to include Quebec into Colorado's points, I would have to include Kansas City and the Colorado Rockies into the Devils points. This was another reason why I felt it necessary to exclude previous teams in a franchise's totals.

Andy said...

2 things:

1. Colorado fans should thank Eric Lindros for helping the Avs top this list.

2. Glad to see one of my faves (NJD) near the top, and my other fave being pointed out as "on the rise." I live in Ohio, and it's been great having the Jackets just a 2-hour drive away. Unfortunately, I can only watch them on TV when the Cavs aren't playing.

Elliot said...

The Devils/Rockies/Scouts franchise was in Denver longer than it was in KC. It only lasted two years in Missouri, but it was in Colorado for eight years.


Jarrett said...

For all of those wanting me to add Quebec's numbers in, I just ran it through without adding it to the published spreadsheet. A Quebec/Colorado combo has a total of 231 points, as the Nordiques never did much of anything after the second round. Given the 30 years in the league, their total is 7.70, placing them above Toronto but below the Islanders.