Stats interesting! Flames add research whiz

Wes Gilbertson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:35 AM ET

Snow knows sports.

A former hockey and baseball reporter and now the Calgary Flames’ first-ever director of video and statistical analysis, Chris Snow just can’t tell you exactly how he develops all that knowledge.

Think of it as a form of sports espionage.

“I spent a lot of the year looking for a fit for myself with a team and probably came across a few teams that I sensed were doing some of this work,” Snow said. “But I think the teams that are making advancements in those areas are keeping it pretty quiet, because they view it as a potential advantage that they don’t want to advertise to other teams.”

At the Saddledome, the secret is out.

The 29-year-old research whiz was officially added to the Flames’ staff Friday morning, scoring a full-time gig after consulting for the team for about two months. According to Friday’s media release, Snow will be “responsible for the complete and comprehensive planning, implementation and oversight of the club’s video and statistical data-mining programs, including designing, developing and implementing a proprietary database of hockey information for use by the club.”

Snow spent four seasons as the Minnesota Wild’s director of hockey operations, but his fascination with stats can be traced to his days covering the Flames’ Northwest Division rivals for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That only increased during his stint as a beat writer for the Boston Globe, where Snow reported on Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.

At that time, he got a sneak-peek of the cutting-edge research techniques BoSox GM Theo Epstein, former assistant and current San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer and others were using at Fenway Park.

“(The Red Sox) were really implementing a pretty impressive process in the way they went about things — gathering information, utilizing video, just putting as much in front of them in the decision-making process as possible, while having a terrific group of scouts,” Snow said. “I was just intrigued by that, and I think, over time, as I got closer to watching it, I really had a desire to participate in something like that.

“I think the Red Sox have every component of a strong organization that you could want — excellent scouting, excellent player development, and they devote a lot of resources to data and video. In fact, I think they have probably the largest library of data and video, and they have it going back so many years and more years than any other team.

“It’s valuable because some of their players are really oriented to that type of stuff, and it’s valuable because they have members of the coaching staff and front office that want that. It can get overwhelming, but I think they utilize it well because they really know what they’re looking for.”

With that in mind, it will be up to Flames GM Jay Feaster, head coach Brent Sutter and other brass at the Saddledome to tell Snow the type of numbers and video analysis they’re interested in.

“My belief is the more information that you put into your decision-making process and your game-planning process — assuming that it’s gathered accurately, it’s organized well and it’s presented in a concise manner to a decision-maker like Jay or Brent — hopefully, they’ll be better-equipped to do their jobs,” Snow said. “But the value will only be as great as their desire to have it and their participation in shaping it. A lot of my role will be listening to Jay and listening to Brent and all of the people across the hockey operations process, and listening for gaps in the process and places I can help, and then going and finding something and bringing it back to them.”


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