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Penguins hire analytics expert as a consultant

Sharpen your pencils and adjust that pocket protector, the Pittsburgh Penguins have entered the age of analytics by hiring War On Ice website founder Sam Ventura.

Oh look, Brandon Sutter not possessing the puck...
Oh look, Brandon Sutter not possessing the puck...
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired Sam Ventura, from the wonderful (and often cited website here) War on Ice as an analytics consultant.

From Jason Mackey of the Tribune Review:

The Penguins have hired co-creator Sam Ventura, a Swissvale native, to join their hockey operations department as a consultant responsible for analytics, vice president of hockey operations Jason Karmanos told Trib Total Media on Wednesday.

Ventura, 27, recently earned his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. A former player, Ventura will begin teaching in the fall while also working for the Penguins and as an assistant coach/director of analytics for the school's club hockey team.

"To have someone who grew up here in Pittsburgh, literally in our backyard, to have the skill set and knowledge base that Sam has, he seemed like the perfect fit," Karmanos said. "Once I met him and started talking to him, I knew that he was the perfect fit for our group here.

As a reminder: less than 10 years ago the Penguins coach's personal office inside Mellon Arena didn't even have internet service, until former general manager Ray Shero took over and upgraded the team in that regard.

Now, the team has a PhD advising them and offering expertise. We've come a long way.

That said, it remains to be seen how much influence or sway that Ventura's information will be given. Surely "stats hate 'em, but the coach's eye test loves them" guys like Brandon Sutter and Rob Scuderi won't be jettisoned over-night. But if the new mindset gives more information that could, say prevent a bad contract extension or, say ask for a draft pick vs. an expensive bland player like Nick Spaling, this move will pay off.

It's a great day for hockey and being smart. Go Pens.