The original vision was to create a space that could effectively bring context to the goal scoring feats of Maurice Richard, Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin, and everyone before, after, and in between. The system required to address this vision is now in place, thanks to Hockey Reference’s innovation. The four adjustments that have been detailed in the Adjusted Statistics menu of this site are tools that allow us to compare goal, assist and point production across eras in an equitable way. With our eyes now open to the need for context when evaluating basic offensive hockey stats, let’s bring it all together.
For any player, in any season, we can easily neutralize their statistical line. Our work with Gordie Howe’s 1952-53 season yields the following:
GORDIE HOWE, UNADJUSTED VS. ADJUSTED STATISTICS, 1952-53
GP = Games Played; G = Goals, A = Assists; PTS = Points
The adjustments can be broken further as follows:
|Adjustment #1 – Goal Environment||+16||+16|
|Adjustment #2 – Assist Environment||+20||+20|
|Adjustment #3 – Season Length||+12||+11||+11||+22|
|Adjustment #4 – Roster Size||-11||-11||-22|
The adjusted stat line is unrecognizable from the original – increases of 16 goals, 20 assists, and 36 points across 12 additional games. This is only a single season. Think of the impact across three prime seasons, or a ten-year career, or in Howe’s case, 26 seasons in five different decades.
Adjusted Goals (AdG), Adjusted Assists (AdA), Adjusted Points (AdPTS)Goals, assists, and points adjusted to an environment of 6 goals per game, 10 assists per game, an 82-game schedule, and an 18-skater roster size.
As we highlight existing statistics and create new ones, these will be included in the Glossary menus of the site by section, starting with Adjusted Stats. To further support all era-adjusted concepts, key metrics and adjustment factors for every season are included in the Glossary under NHL Seasons; this will serve as a quick reference guide to capture a snapshot of the environment of a particular season or era.
Adjusted Games Played
You will notice an adjustment for games played in the line “Adjustment #3 – Season Length” above. Through our discussion of the first four adjustments, our focus was limited to goals and assists, summing, of course, to points. However, a critical acknowledgement is that when we adjust for goals and assists via the third adjustment for season length, we are inherently rightsizing games played. This adjustment to games played is not included on Hockey-Reference.com, which can lead to the assumption that adjusted scoring totals are reached in a player’s actual games played. This is not the case, as each season is adjusted to an 82-game schedule. Enter adjusted games played (“AdGP”), the first of many new Adjusted Hockey statistical terms that will be added to our lexicon.
Why does it matter? In Howe’s case, a user could take his 131 adjusted points in 1952-53, infer the output is over 70 games played, and greatly overstate his performance. 131 points in 70 games played and 131 points in 82 games played are much different feats when it comes to efficiency. Over the course of his 26-season career, the adjustment system credits Mr. Hockey with an additional 296 games played, a product of the season lengths in Howe’s career ranging from as a few as 60 to as many as 80 scheduled games per year. Adjusted games played, then, becomes an essential figure when comparing players, both during an individual season or a career.
Adjusted Games Played (AdGP): SkatersGames played by a skater adjusted to an 82-game schedule.
Example: In 2012-13, P.K. Subban played in 42 games as part of the NHL’s abbreviated 48-game regular season.
Subban is credited with 72 AdGP in 2012-13 (i.e., 42 GP x [82 ÷ 48 GP]).
The schedule length and roster size adjustments are sensible tweaks for skaters, paramount to normalizing performance. But given roster size has no direct correlation to goaltending, how do we adjust games played for goalies? The deployment of goaltenders in the NHL has shifted dramatically over time. For the bulk of the league’s first five decades, teams almost exclusively had a single goaltender available. It wasn’t until the 1965 playoffs that the NHL mandated a second netminder be dressed and ready for duty, the rule becoming permanent for the 1965-66 season.
It would not be logical, however, to assume goaltenders, such as Georges Vezina in 1918-19 (18 games) or Bill Durnan in 1946-47 (60 games) would have played every minute of every game in an 82-game season had a second NHL-quality goalie been available. This was a function of necessity in the one-goalie system. In the modern NHL, goaltenders rarely appear in 70 games, their workload typically capped to ensure performance is sustained and injuries avoided; since 2012-13, only four goaltenders have appeared in 70 games, with Cam Talbot and Braden Holtby (73) tied at the top. While Grant Fuhr famously holds the record with 79(!) games played in 1995-96, there have only been 70 instances of a goalie exceeding 70 appearances in a season.
As a result, for the seasons from 1917-18 through 1964-65 (the “one goalie” era), our roster size adjustment will cap goalies at 70 games, not the full 82-game schedule.
Adjusted Games Played (AdGP): GoaltendersGames played by a goaltender adjusted to an 82-game schedule, limited to a maximum of 70 games before backup goaltenders were mandatory.
Example: In 1946-47, Bill Durnan played every game of the NHL’s 60-game regular season.
Durnan is credited with 70 AdGP in 1946-47 (i.e., 60 GP x [70 ÷ 60 GP]).
This gives goaltenders credit for the longer schedule, but without the presumption they would have played as frequently in an 82-game season with a backup available. Given the 1949-50 to 1964-65 seasons featured exactly 70 games, the adjustment has no impact on those years; for that reason, only the first 32 NHL seasons are affected by the “one goalie” roster size adjustment.
For 1965-66 and beyond, the standard season length adjustment used for skaters applies to goalies in the same fashion, extrapolating to an 82-game schedule. This results in rare instances where a goaltender’s stats are extended over more than 70 games. The reason this is appropriate is that a backup was available to these teams – the coach simply chose to play the starter exhaustively.
Now that we’ve defined adjusted games played, we can take this one step further, translating the figure to a player’s career. Often, we’ll hear about how many NHL games or seasons a player has gotten into. However, the numbers cited are hard to align to the shape of a career. Consider the following 13-season veterans: Hall of Famer Doug Bentley (1939-1954), iron man Doug Jarvis (1975-1987), postage stamp icon Peter Forsberg (1995-2011), and current TSN personality Carlo Colaiacovo (2002-2016).
- Bentley, debuting in a 48-game schedule and retiring in a 70-game schedule, dressed for 565 games.
- Jarvis, playing exclusively in 80-game schedules and having perfect attendance, dressed for 964 games.
- Forsberg, debuting in a lockout-shortened year and frequently out of the lineup with significant injuries, dressed for 708 games.
- Colaiacovo, called up early in his career for cups of coffee and later injured with such regularity that he reaches 70 games only once, dressed for 470 games.
Sure, each of them played in “13 seasons.” But 13 seasons can be as many 1,066 games or as few as 13 games. Jarvis more than doubles Colaiacovo’s game count. With that in mind, Adjusted Hockey has created Adjusted Seasons, a metric to scale a player’s attendance into a representative career figure. If a skater played 13 full NHL seasons, without missing a game, they’d have played 13.0 adjusted seasons. If a skater played half the scheduled games in their respective seasons, they’d have 6.5 adjusted seasons. Easy enough.
For goaltenders, again some improvisation is required. We reduce the measure of a “full season” from 82 adjusted games to 60 adjusted games, what is widely seen as a full workload for an NHL starting goalie today. A goaltender exceeding 60 adjusted games can earn a little more than one adjusted season in a year, reflecting the fact they’re getting into more games than their starting peers.
Adjusted Seasons (AdYrs)– Career adjusted games played by a skater divided by an 82-game schedule.
– Career adjusted games played by a goaltender divided by a 60-game workload.
Eric Lindros is credited with 790 adjusted games in his 13-season career; Lindros played 9.6 AdYrs (i.e., 790 AdGP ÷ 82).
Grant Fuhr is credited with 890 adjusted games in his 15-season career; Fuhr played 14.8 AdYrs (i.e., 890 AdGP ÷ 60).
AdGP = Adjusted Games Played; AdYrs = Adjusted Seasons
We see from the chart that each player is provided a career length via adjusted seasons that is commensurate to their adjusted games. The AdYrs figure will be an integral part of understanding a player’s attendance as part of evaluating their careers.
We’re close to being in a position to unleash adjusted statistics over 100-plus seasons of NHL performances. The thrilling aspect of the methodology is using it to shine light on the fascinating outcomes of a level playing field. Which players has history overlooked? Which players has history been too flattering toward? What do the season and career totals of the all-time greats look like now that they’ve been neutralized?
As promised in the Introduction, we can now fill in some of the blanks on Jarome Iginla‘s player card. At the top left, Iginla’s career via adjusted games played is captured at 19.3 AdYrs, a stunningly durable mark in 20 seasons. We can now also pencil in his career adjusted figures under Career Statistics on the top right of the card. Iginla’s adjusted numbers – 1,585 games, 706 goals, 739 assists, for 1,445 points – capture his output in a neutral environment. How much different might the Calgary legend’s career look in the exclusive 700-goal club, or with another 145 points tacked onto his total? The difference between basic NHL counting stats and adjusted stats (green/positive numbers for increases, red/negative numbers for decreases) is shown on each card to capture the impact.
As we wind down our deep look into adjusted statistics, up next, we have an exciting new tool to add to our belts – Adjusted Pace.