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Outliers: A Myth?

Friday, 07.12.2013 / 12:22 PM / Razor With An Edge
By Daryl "Razor" Reaugh
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Outliers: A Myth?
Malcolm Gladwell, you got some ‘splainin to do.

In Gladwell’s best seller ‘Outliers’ he laid out the leg-up that athletes born earlier in the year had over those who had birthdates from July on. Here’s an excerpt from an ESPN Q&A with the author:

The first chapter in "Outliers" is about how some Canadian hockey players born in the first months of the year enjoy advantages that those born later in the year don't have. You also write that birth month correlates closely with success in other sports. Why is this?

“It's a beautiful example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In Canada, the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey programs is Jan. 1. Canada also takes hockey really seriously, so coaches start streaming the best hockey players into elite programs, where they practice more and play more games and get better coaching, as early as 8 or 9. But who tends to be the "best" player at age 8 or 8? The oldest, of course -- the kids born nearest the cut-off date, who can be as much as almost a year older than kids born at the other end of the cut-off date. When you are 8 years old, 10 or 11 extra months of maturity means a lot."

A Page 2 study
After checking out Malcolm's Gladwell's new book, "Outliers," and his explanation of why Canadian hockey players born early in the year have a big advantage, we conducted a little study: We tallied up all the NHL players from this season who were born from 1980 to 1990. Sure enough: Many more were born early in the year than late. Note: We did not screen for Canadian-only players.

Month                Players

January                51

February              46

March                  61

April                    49

May                    46

June                   49

July                    36

August               41

September          36

October              34

November           33

December          30


So those kids get special attention. That's why there are more players in the NHL born in January and February and March than any other months. You see the same pattern, to an even more extreme degree, in soccer in Europe and baseball here in the U.S. It's one of those bizarre, little-remarked-upon facts of professional sports. They're biased against kids with the wrong birthday.”

Well here are the 2013 NHL Draft’s Top 10 picks with their birth month:

Nathan Mackinnon: September

Alexander Barkov: September

Jonathan Drouin: March

Seth Jones: October

Elias Lindholm: December

Sean Monahan: October

Darnell Nurse: February

Rasmus Ristolainen: October

Bo Horvat: April

Valeri Nichushkin: March

Lots of late birthdays, eh.

The first two picks, Mackinnon and Barkov, were born so late that they almost weren’t eligible for the Draft until 2014, and only nine of the first thirty picks (The First Round) were born in the first three months of the year.

The Stars two 1st-Rounders were Nichushkin, above (Outlier validation), and Jason Dickinson who was born on the 4th of July (How bout that for fireworks).

So…Just a freak year, or has something changed, or has Razor just administered an Outlier smackdown?

I call my move, ‘The Epiphany of Doom.’

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 49 32 11 6 146 130 70
2 NSH 47 31 10 6 145 112 68
3 STL 47 30 13 4 153 115 64
4 CHI 48 30 16 2 151 112 62
5 WPG 50 26 16 8 140 127 60
6 SJS 49 26 17 6 137 135 58
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 49 26 20 3 140 127 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 DAL 48 22 19 7 152 157 51
11 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
12 MIN 48 22 20 6 131 138 50
13 ARI 48 17 25 6 111 161 40
14 EDM 49 13 27 9 113 162 35

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Seguin 48 28 25 1 53
J. Benn 48 16 28 -2 44
J. Spezza 48 8 27 -4 35
T. Daley 45 12 12 -7 24
E. Cole 44 12 11 3 23
A. Goligoski 48 1 22 8 23
A. Roussel 48 11 11 -1 22
C. Eakin 45 9 13 8 22
J. Klingberg 34 7 13 8 20
A. Hemsky 45 8 11 -6 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 20 11 7 .903 2.99
A. Lindback 2 7 0 .875 3.79
 
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