Defining the Style of Play in the NHL: An Application of Cluster Analysis

Claude Vincent; Byron Eastman
January 2009
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports;Jan2009, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p1133
Academic Journal
The placing of NHL players into categories such as stars, average journeyman forwards, defensive forward, etc., is a popular pastime of fans and professional sports commentators. This is usually done in an ad hoc manner, sometimes contentiously, and without reference to any detailed analysis of empirical data. This paper structures the debate and provides a statistical basis for such categorization. This is achieved through an application of cluster analysis to formally allocate players to these categories. Using variables from the earnings determination literature, we are able to define the style of play of both forwards and defensemen. In addition, there appears to be a link to external outcome measures.


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