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Are the Dallas Stars shifts too long?

Whilst perusing the SportsBlogs Nation today, I ran across this Hockeymetric-themed post by Jonathan Willis of one of the newest SBN blogs, The Copper & Blue.

On a side note, does EVERY Oilers blog have a minor in Hockeymetrics? I mean, there's mc79hockey, Vic, and now C&B.

Anyway, back on point after the jump.

Willis notes the 45-second rule in the game of hockey. No, obviously it has nothing to do with a shot clock, but has everything to do with the belief in the game of hockey that the shorter the shift, the fresher the player.

It's an unwritten rule that's been in the unwritten rulebook for as long as anyone can remember in the era of modern hockey. Bryan Murray preaches it, the Detroit Red Wings preach it, and if you have any kids in any hockey leagues, chances are, their coaches are preaching it. In fact, most teams in the sport preach it.

With the exception of the Washington Capitals, Atlanta Thrashers, and your Dallas Stars.

Naturally when I saw this find, I went ahead and updated my skater spreadsheet with data from the Stars last seven regular season games.

Yes, I know. I'm a slacker, considering the Stars last played a game of any kind 31 days ago. Here's average TOI per shift for the defensemen:

Player TOI Shifts Avg
Grossman, Nicklas 24:00:10 1928 0:45
Robidas, Stephane 29:25:58 2026 0:52
Niskanen, Matt 26:37:18 2020 0:47
Daley, Trevor 27:18:18 2059 0:48
Hutchinson, Andrew 9:04:56 763 0:43
Fistric, Mark 9:34:05 750 0:46
Janik, Doug 2:06:39 178 0:43
Boucher, Philippe 5:48:17 399 0:52
Sydor, Darryl 20:15:09 1695 0:43
Zubov, Sergei 4:02:55 260 0:56


One right at 45 seconds (Grossman), three at 43 seconds (Hutchinson, Janik, and Sydor), and everybody else over the 45 second mark. BTW, Stephane Robidas' mark of 29 hours, 25 minutes, and 58 seconds was the most ice time any Stars player received. Mike Ribeiro was second at 28:38:01.

As for the forwards:

Player TOI Shifts Avg
Modano, Mike 24:23:21 1788 0:49
Morrow, Brenden 6:24:19 393 0:59
Morrison, Brendan 4:52:19
357 0:49
Sawada, Ray 0:43:28 57 0:46
Barch, Krys 7:44:46
619 0:45
Avery, Sean 5:44:33
417 0:50
Petersen, Toby 10:50:41
891 0:44
Neal, James 20:21:53
1461 0:50
Sutherby, Brian 8:41:26
702 0:45
Eirksson, Loui 27:05:26
1903 0:51
Wilson, Landon 4:09:13
350 0:43
Wandell, Tom 2:36:07
185 0:51
Conner, Chris 6:55:27
535 0:47
Lehtinen, Jere 15:12:13
1121 0:49
Ott, Steve 20:57:49
1306 0:58
Parrish, Mark 8:15:55
646 0:46
Lundqvist, Joel 7:44:48
607 0:46
Crombeen, BJ 2:03:37
165 0:45
Begin, Steve 3:28:38
296 0:42
Ribeiro, Mike 28:38:01
1780 0:58
Richards, Brad 19:06:47
1281 0:54
Brunnstrom, Fabian 10:39:04 784 0:49


Toby Petersen, Landon Wilson, and Steve Begin were the only forwards to check in at under 45 seconds per shift. Everyone else was either at the 45 second mark (Krys Barch, Brian Sutherby, and BJ Crombeen).

Willis suggests that perhaps John Andersen, Bruce Boudreau, and Dave Tippett are onto something with this:

It's a point worth noting.  It's also worth noting that the three coaches who have made a habit of breaking the 45-second rule (Dave Tippett, John Anderson and Bruce Boudreau) all had long, successful stints in the AHL or IHL, and all have won championships at that level (eight championships between the three of them).  All are exceptional coaches, and I really think they're on to something with this.  It may well be that something currently perceived as a weakness (long shifts) is in fact working in their favour; player conditioning has come a long way and perhaps it's time to have another look at this sort of thinking.

Fair point indeed. And in a season where you don't have over 300 man games lost to injury, this might give you an advantage.

Once you go over that 300 man games mark...

I think we all saw for ourselves what happened. Dallas just ran out of gas and I do think this practice of lengthening shifts played a small part in that.