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Most Times Leading a Team in Ice Time During a Season

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06-06-2015, 10:53 PM
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Hockey Outsider
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Most Times Leading a Team in Ice Time During a Season

The title is pretty self-explanatory. I wanted to see which players (in practice, this would virtually always be defensemen) have led their team in ice time during the most games in a season.

Here are the best examples I've found (keeping in mind that ice time has only officially been recorded since 1999):
  • 1999 Boston Bruins (Bourque 67, McLaren 8, Allison 3, Gill 1, Ledyard 1, Sweeney 1, Van Impe 1)
  • 1999 New York Rangers (Leetch 75, Schneider 4, Kunble 1, Malhotra 1, Nedved 1)
  • 2000 St. Louis Blues (Pronger 69, MacInnis, 11, Reirden 2)
  • 2001 Detroit Red Wings (Lidstrom 78, Fedorov 2, Chelios 1, Fischer 1)
  • 2001 New York Rangers (Leetch 77, Fleury 2, Johnsson 2, York 1)
  • 2002 Detroit Red Wings (Lidstrom 67, Chelios 14, Fischer 1)
  • 2003 Detroit Red Wings (Lidstrom 77, Chelios 5)
  • 2004 St. Louis Blues (Pronger 73, Backman 4, MacInnis 2, Demitra 1, Salvador 1, Weinrich 1)
  • 2006 Detroit Red Wings (Lidstrom 68, Schneider 10, Lilja 2, Chelios 1, Fischer 1)
  • 2006 Edmonton Oilers (Pronger 76, Spacek 3, Bergeron 1, Staois 1, Tarnstrom 1)
  • 2007 Boston Bruins (Chara 74, Alberts 2, Ference 2, Stuart 2, Mara 1, Ward 1)
  • 2008 Florida Panthers (Bouwmeester 75, Salei 3, Allen 1, Cullimore 1, Murphy 1, Van Ryn 1)
  • 2009 Florida Panthers (Bouwmeester 67, McCabe 8, Ballard 5, Skrastins 2)
  • 2013 Florida Panthers (Campbell 44, Weaver 2, Gudbranson 1, Kulikov 1 - 48 game schedule)
  • 2013 Minessota Wild (Suter 45, Brodin 2, Spurgeon 1 - 48 game schedule)
  • 2014 Florida Panthers (Campbell 70, Kulikov 11, Bergenheim 1)
  • 2014 Minessota Wild (Suter 79, Brodin 2, Scandella 1)
  • 2014 Ottawa Senators (Karlsson 75, Methot 4, Phillips 2, Cowen 1)
  • 2015 LA Kings (Doughty 80, Sekera 1, Voynov 1)
  • 2015 Minessota Wild (Suter 72, Scandella 3, Spurgeon 3, Brodin 2, Dumba 2)
  • 2015 Ottawa Senators (Karlsson 75, Methot 4, Phillips 2, Cowen 1 - not a typo, identical breakdown compared to 2014)

This past season, Drew Doughty led the Kings in ice time in all but two games. This appears to be the all-time record. The only games he didn't lead were the 4th and 73rd games on the schedule.

I'd love to see the numbers for prime Ray Bourque. Even at age 38 he has one of the top twenty seasons I've found.

No, I didn`t need to look through all 82 game logs to figure this out (there are some Excel tricks that help) - but this isn`t a comprehensive list. Can anyone else find examples of a player leading their team in 65+ games during the regular season?

It's also possible to look at which forwards have led their team's forwards in ice time. The most extreme example was Pavel Bure (leading the 2000 Florida Panthers in 68 of their 82 games looking at forwards only, and 37 of their games overall). I haven't spent much time/effort on this. I've looked at a few other examples including Jagr and Iginla but none were close to Bure.


Last edited by Hockey Outsider: 06-06-2015 at 11:18 PM.
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06-07-2015, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
I'd love to see the numbers for prime Ray Bourque. Even at age 38 he has one of the top twenty seasons I've found.
I don't think that the usual big minute players will automatically lead this stat. It's probably more important to play on a playoff bubble team, as those are the teams that will need to keep their best players on the ice as much as possible. Dominant teams tend to rest their star players if they have big leads late in the game. The existance of a trusted number #2 defenseman will matter aswell of course.

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06-07-2015, 12:19 PM
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I think to consistently lead a team in ice time, there are five factors that are relevant:

1. The player receives/earns a lot of ice time on average
2. The player is good offensively and defensively (and will play regardless of whether team is winning or losing)
3. The team is a borderline playoff team, or fighting for home ice advantage (therefore lots of high leverage games)
4. There isn't a strong #2 defenseman to take the pressure off the star
5. The player doesn't get injured

Bourque would meet all five criteria in many years. It wouldn't surprise me if he led his team 70+ times in many of his peak seasons. This is just speculation of course as this data simply doesn't exist.

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06-07-2015, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
I think to consistently lead a team in ice time, there are five factors that are relevant:

1. The player receives/earns a lot of ice time on average
2. The player is good offensively and defensively (and will play regardless of whether team is winning or losing)
3. The team is a borderline playoff team, or fighting for home ice advantage (therefore lots of high leverage games)
4. There isn't a strong #2 defenseman to take the pressure off the star
5. The player doesn't get injured

Bourque would meet all five criteria in many years. It wouldn't surprise me if he led his team 70+ times in many of his peak seasons. This is just speculation of course as this data simply doesn't exist.
I think you are right about Bourque, it would have been interesting to see his actual ice times.

I also find the Detroit numbers in 2002 interesting. In a season in which Chelios placed second in Norris voting, Lidstrom actually still had the highest ice time in 67 of the 78 games he played in. That's a pretty good way of putting their roles in context.

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06-07-2015, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by steve141 View Post
I also find the Detroit numbers in 2002 interesting. In a season in which Chelios placed second in Norris voting, Lidstrom actually still had the highest ice time in 67 of the 78 games he played in. That's a pretty good way of putting their roles in context.
How does it put their roles into context without looking at ES/PP/PK breakdowns? We know that the difference between their ice-times was their roles on the powerplay, but the 67 number doesn't tell us that.

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06-07-2015, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by quoipourquoi View Post
How does it put their roles into context without looking at ES/PP/PK breakdowns? We know that the difference between their ice-times was their roles on the powerplay, but the 67 number doesn't tell us that.
I didn't mean role as in what kind of duties they performed on the ice, but rather as in the coach having a clear preference for one over the other. On a team where two players finish top 2 in Norris voting, I would have expected the numbers to show more of a 1a vs 1b kind of situation. Going by the numbers it's clear Chelios was the #2 defenceman.

Hockey Outsider, are you able to do Weber vs Suter for the Nashville years?

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06-08-2015, 12:38 AM
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Looking at 2008-09 to 2011-12, here are the leaders:

Ryan Suter - 154
Shea Weber - 124
Dan Hamhuis - 30
Kevin Klein - 8
Francis Bouillon - 4
Greg Zanon - 3
David Legwand - 2
Alexander Sulzer - 1
Jason Arnott - 1
Roman Josi - 1

There was actually more diversity than I expected. Suter (47%) and Weber (38%) obviously led the majority of games in TOI, but that still leaves 15% for other players. I thought between the two of them, there would be only a trivial number of games with another player in the lead. (This is mostly due to the team's reliance on Dan Hamhuis in 2009).

On a yearly basis, Suter led Weber in 2009 (29-22), 2010 (44-27) and 2012 (45-35). In 2011 Weber has ahead (40-36).

Interestingly, Weber played more total ice time over the period, despite the fact that Suter was more likely to play more in any given game.

In games where Suter led in ice time, the Predators were 73-66-15 (52.3%). They were 72-36-16 in games where Weber led (64.5%).

I have some theories on these numbers but would be interested in hearing from anyone who watched the Preds more closely than I have.

(It would be interesting to break this down by situation - ES, PP, SH - but it would take a lot of time to compile the data, so I'm not going to look at it from that angle, although it may provide additional insights).

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06-08-2015, 03:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Outsider View Post
I think to consistently lead a team in ice time, there are five factors that are relevant:

1. The player receives/earns a lot of ice time on average
2. The player is good offensively and defensively (and will play regardless of whether team is winning or losing)
3. The team is a borderline playoff team, or fighting for home ice advantage (therefore lots of high leverage games)
4. There isn't a strong #2 defenseman to take the pressure off the star
5. The player doesn't get injured

Bourque would meet all five criteria in many years. It wouldn't surprise me if he led his team 70+ times in many of his peak seasons. This is just speculation of course as this data simply doesn't exist.
Bourque also led the team in average TOI by a very wide margin most of the time, so it stands to reason that other defensemen very seldom played more in a single game than he did.

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