Veterans and goal reviews and Dave Pym is a smart guy

There have been a few things I’ve wanted to write about but they weren’t really enough for a whole post. So I came up with the completely original idea of combining them all into one post. I know, right? Brilliant!

What is a veteran?

I recently got into a conversation over Twitter with @IKnowLax (and he does know lax) after a blog posting he made where he referenced Rock forward Garrett Billings as a veteran. I said that Billings hadn’t been in the league long enough yet to qualify as a veteran, and he disagreed. So I asked my twitter followers what they thought – how do you define “veteran” in the context of the NLL? Is it strictly time played in the league, and how long? Does the player’s impact on the league change things? I used an example: Cody Jamieson is in his third season but has already led his team to a Championship – is he a veteran? I got a few varied responses:

  • IKnowLax – “a person who has had a long experience in a particular field” I’d say 2 years. You’re not considered new at a job after that. …a guy like Cody Jamieson I would consider a vet.
  • TimNThen – I’d say it’s more based on playing time and impact combined
  • HindaCozaCulp – time in the league
  • banditfan11 – I don’t think he [Billings] should be called a veteran just yet
  • StealthDragon – I think years. If you make it to your 3rd year you’re a veteran [He clarified later to say that he meant once you’ve finished 3 years, so you’re a vet in your fourth]
  • apmckay – To me a veteran is someone who’s been through enough he can guide others through it too.

I also asked on the IL Indoor forums and got a few more responses there:

  • Wings-4-Life – My cutoff is 5 full years. I do not consider Jammer or Billings to be veterans.
  • Laxwizz – I’d say 50+ games in the league. If you’ve been able to stick with the league that long you deserve to be called a vet. [50 games is a little over 3 seasons.]
  • Hollywood42 – 5 or more years IMO
  • @podcasterryan – For me it’s 3 full seasons. In your fourth year you are a vet.
  • poskid – I like four years. Might be because the Swarm are so young and lasting four years here means something.
  • swami24 broke it down even further: You are a veteran at the start of your third full year. You are a seasoned veteran in your 6th season and a grizzled veteran in your 10th.

So we don’t have a real consensus, but it looks like most people would consider a player a veteran after they had finished 3-4 years. Personally, I’d give it a couple more years – after five full years I’d probably use the term veteran. I might drop it to four if the player had had a significant impact, so I might give Jamieson that honour next year.

The magic number

Former Roughnecks coach and current Toronto Rock scout Dave Pym tweeted recently:

Unlike Spinal Tap the magic number is not 11. It is 12. If you can pop 12 then your winning % will be 75% and better. Probably a lot higher.

Of course, that made me curious, and I jumped into action. It’s not that I was trying to prove Pym right or wrong, I was just curious as to how true that was. It shouldn’t really be that surprising that Pym’s impressions after all of his years in lacrosse were pretty accurate.

Over the history of the NLL (not including any games from the 2013 season), the the average losing score was 10.6 (the average winning score was 14.4 in case you’re wondering). The median losing score is 10, so if you want to give yourself a >50% chance of winning, scoring 11 would do it, but just barely. Scoring 11 goals would have won you 51.6% of all NLL games. Scoring 12 would give you a much higher 64.6% winning percentage, and if you wanted to hit the 75% mark, you’d need to score 13 (which would actually give you 76%).

Automatic goal reviews

While watching the Calgary / Edmonton game a couple of weeks ago (not last week’s 9-8 nailbiter, but the 18-15 goal-o-rama game the week before), I thought I was watching a basketball game: there was lots of scoring and the last few minutes of the game took forever. I wasn’t the only one either; lots of people on twitter felt the same way. The reason for the frustration was the fact that there were three goals scored within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, the time during which no goal challenges are allowed. Instead, the referees will automatically review every goal during those two minutes. This apparently includes included empty-net goals.

I get the idea of this rule. If a coach challenges a goal and the challenge is overturned, his team loses a timeout. If they don’t have a timeout remaining, they get a bench minor penalty. But if there aren’t two minutes left in the 4th quarter, the team can’t serve the whole two minutes, so there’s less of a risk to calling for a challenge. To avoid frivolous “nothing to lose” challenges near the end of a game, they simply take away that possibility and review every goal, negating the need for a challenge. But I expected that the rule was written to say that all goals in the last two minutes of the 4th were reviewed if necessary. If there is no question that the shooter was outside the crease, none of his teammates are near the crease, and the ball went in before the whistle, shot clock expiry or final buzzer, there’s no need to review it, right? Apparently not. Even worse, both of the empty-net goals were reviewed.

The fact that these goals were reviewed at all is frustrating enough. But when the reviews take two minutes or more, we start to get into “ridiculous” territory. They showed the replay from a couple of different angles during the telecast, and there was no question that the goals were good. There’s no reason those reviews should have taken more than about fifteen seconds. I have no idea why they took so long. The fans watching on twitter, those in the stands at the game, and even the announcers calling the game were similarly stumped.

Some of the suggestions I saw on twitter were to limit the time that a review could take (i.e. if the ref can’t figure it out within 30 or 60 seconds, the call on the floor stands), or allowing the coach of the team who was scored on to waive the review. The problem with the second option is that if the losing team is gaining momentum in the last two minutes, the scored-on coach would not waive the review because he wants to kill any momentum the scoring team might have had. But momentum is being killed anyway, so they need to do something.

Thankfully the NLL announced a couple of days later that empty-net goals in the final two minutes of the fourth (or OT) are no longer required to be reviewed. While this is a great addition, I would have preferred the rule be changed to give the referees the ability to decide for themselves whether a review is necessary. A lot of people complain about the refs in the NLL, but the league has to show enough confidence in them to allow them to see a goal and make a judgment call as to whether it needs reviewing. Maybe they can err on the side of caution and say “If it’s close at all, review it”.

Either way though, kudos to the NLL for addressing this issue quickly.

Colorado’s goalies

Last year, I seem to remember some trepidation about Chris Levis being the Mammoth’s starting goalie. Was he up to the task? By the end of the year, however, there were no doubts, and Levis placed third in IL Indoor’s Goaltender of the Year race (even getting one first-place vote). It seemed that many people forgot about this over the summer, though, since I saw a lot of people remarking at the beginning of this season that Colorado’s biggest question mark was goaltending. Now maybe Levis had a bad summer in the MSL or WLA, or got injured while windsurfing or something, and I didn’t hear about it. But it seemed to me that if Levis was one of the best goaltenders in 2012, there shouldn’t be much of a question about him in 2013 before any games have been played.

Sure enough though, Levis didn’t have a great start to the season and was released. Matt Roik, who had been brought in during the off-season as Levis’ backup, was given the starting job. But when the Mammoth signed Dan Lewis to back up Roik, I saw tweets from people talking about how the Mammoth had solved their goaltending problems. Really? Dan Lewis is the answer? Nothing against Lewis, about whom I know very little, but his entire NLL career consists of nine minutes during which he allowed 4 goals and made 10 saves. That’s not much to go on.

That said, as of now Lewis has played 8 minutes. He’s got a 9.25 GAA and 87.5% save percentage. Not bad at all.


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