Outliers: A Myth?

Friday, 07.12.2013 / 11:22 AM CT / 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.’

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
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9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 13 5 10 2 15
J. Spezza 13 5 8 0 13
C. Eakin 13 1 7 -4 8
A. Goligoski 13 4 3 -6 7
P. Sharp 13 4 2 -4 6
P. Eaves 9 3 3 3 6
R. Faksa 13 3 2 2 5
M. Janmark 12 2 3 -3 5
C. Sceviour 11 2 3 1 5
J. Klingberg 13 1 3 -5 4
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 6 3 0 .899 2.81
A. Niemi 1 3 2 .865 3.29
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