mike’s guide to grit

Why isn’t my team gritty enough? Are they lacking GRIT? How can they add more GRIT? What type of player’s face would I use to sand a piece of birch?”

I can answer all of these questions very easily for you: Your team sucks, yes they lack the necessary grit, sign more grittier players, and use Jordin Tootoo’s face to sand birch. As we spend every waking minute, obsessing over charts and graphs that make zero sense we should go back to a simpler time. A time when we can just admire the intricacies of marginal athletes trying to do things that cause reactions in dated human wants and desires.

That’s where my following analysis comes in. After all is said and done you’ll be more qualified that the schmucks on TV! You’ll get a job there, make lots of money, and retire in a cottage by a lake next to Bob McKenzie. Hell, maybe you’ll pursue a career as a fighter and make the NHL? Doubtful, you probably suck.

The #GRITCHART and #SMIDCHART are dead now. Welcome to the world of sandpaper based analytics.

Cody McLeod, great for spruce.
Cody McLeod, great for spruce.


“When I think about guys who can’t do dick all in tough circumstances, I think about what my dad told me about sandpaper: if you ain’t bleedin’ when you’re done, you did it wrong, shit-for-brains.” – Brian Burke, probably.

The NHL is filled with immense volumes of soft hockey players these days. Almost all of them can score but can they hit? Can they fight? Can they pull out a tooth on the bench, bleed like a stuck pig, and go out there and play five minutes a night? Probably not. They have no heart, no soul, no gumption, no chutzpah. It’s goal this, dangle that. Fortunately we can now start to quantify grit by using the standards for sandpaper and the results are grim.

Either way, here are the softest players as measured by the ISO/FEPA and CAMI designations with rough translations to the NHL designation: COARS-E.

wow look how soft these guys are

Quantifying GRIT is hard because you can’t quantify intangibles until now. Fortunately using advanced mathematical algorithms (ask about my p-values) I was able to determine the softest of grits in the NHL. You might be alarmed to see Patrick Marleau at 10 and you might believe that’s the highest grit ever. Don’t be stupid, the grit scale goes from 0 (absolute-zero in grit) to 69 (the pinnacle of gritness). It’s a nice scale as it factors in everything you need to know about someone’s grittiness.

Think of it like the below replacement-level hockey player’s WAR but you just had your nose smashed like your grandma’s mashed potatoes.

It’s easy to accept and understand why Alexander Semin is absolute zero: he’s soft European trash who doesn’t play hard. If you were finishing up your sanding on a beautiful shelving unit you made for you now former-wife who left you; you would use Alexander Semin’s face to do so. It is perfect for delicate sanding because it’s so frail. Whereas if you’re using something like a Hodgson you’ve started to polish that wood. I’m assuming by now you’ve pictured yourself building furniture now so good job, you’ve become distracted with hopes and dreams. I don’t have any of those now.

Use Semin because he is always scratched.
Use Semin because he is always scratched.


Imagine a world where every chair you sit on gives you a splinter. You wish you could defend your soft asses but you have nothing to prevent these types of things. Well, that’s where guys like Tie Domi, Bob Probert, and Bruins hall of famer Shawn Thornton come in. They’re the sandpaper that gives your ass a chance.” – Nelson Mandela

Every team needs that abrasive edge and that’s where the truculent heroes of the fourth line come in. They are the embodiment of heart, they scrap, they hit, they block shots, and most importantly they give your dressing room character. Guys like Remaldo, Torres, McLeod, and Bollig? They’re blue-collar workin’ class gents who just do what they can to make a paycheck. They’re also incredibly awesome in a wood shop because the stubble on their faces can strip the bark off any tree.

That’s how good they are. They strip bark off trees and in a pinch you could scrub the gunk in your shower with one of them.

Diving in the world of macrogrits is a really intense experience. Every player used as reference he was meticulously examined to prove they belonged here. I consulted zero NHL experts, bloggers, analysts, general managers, and former players. I did however consult with my buddy Gord and a few folks on Hockey Twitter, so naturally I got the best analysis possible:

wow so much character

There are probably some questions you have like:

  • Where is Raffi Torres? Well he’s suspended so he’s not on the list.
  • How is Shane Doan on this list? He gets away with murder on the ice often.
  • How can [player name] be ranked so low? Quit complaining.
  • Is this because the Flames waived Paul Byron? WHY THE FUCK DID THIS HAPPEN!? WHY!?
  • Mike, why are you the worst blogger in Hockey Twitter? My parents didn’t love me enough.

It’s very hard to determine who is the most gritty player in the league. That’s why there are 10 players tied for first and I’m comfortable with that for now. Each one of them brings something completely different that makes them indistinguishably spectacular at acts of grittitude. When analyzing game footage it became increasingly alarming how often Cody McLeod does something reprehensible. In many ways, he’s out-Remaldoing Zac Remaldo now, the famed and former Flyera legend.

Bruins hall of Famer Shawn Thornton who is better than Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, Tyler Seguin, and just about everyone else combined jumped a defenseless player a few seasons ago. This played well into his grit rating. John Scott, the famed god-king of Minnesota, Chicago, Buffalo, San Jose, Phoenix once tried to murder room temperature butter-man Phil Kessel. Jordin Tootoo punches people for a living and is on the power play. All of these men, all of these creatures… they are special in so many ways.

john scott forever
john scott forever

Understanding COARS-E

COARS-E is the future of advanced statistics for the players who are pure pugnacity. The offensive players have Corsi, these fine gentlemen have COARS-E. When it comes to factoring into COARS-E, we want to consider the following:

  • Faces punched – basically the equivalent to goals. You can also measure it by faces punched per 20, per 60, and per 69.
  • HITZ – Self explanatory. In the COARS-E model, HITZ are a lot like shot attempts. More HITZ means you’re doing your job.
  • Shot blocks – Kris Russell’s staple diet. Real heroic players who sacrifice their body night in and night out do this.
  • PIMs – If you’re not taking pointless penalties you’re not doing your job.
  • Fights – Self explanatory but a great measure skill
  • Illegal hits to the head – This a taboo measure but in order to determine the true grit you need this
  • Scrums After Play – A fantastic measure of bellicosity in a player. Gotta send a message after someone gets way too close to your goalie right?

Sometime in the near future I hope to have massive amounts of data compiled to prove that my COARS-E model works. Then we can usher in the renaissance of face punchers who feast upon the bodies of their enemies. Using COARS-E we can start to answer questions and bring to light elements in the narrative that are either true or false. At some point we can answer questions like:

  • Who is driving grit?
  • Is grit repeatable?
  • Can you make your teammates more gritty?
  • Will my large adult sons ever respect me?
  • What truly drives grit?


The incessant narratives by former-players like Colby Armstrong or Kelly Hrudey along with the John Shannons and Doug Macleans are killing the viewing experience. There is literally zero reason to even watch the intermission unless you’re masochistically enjoying it. That or you’ve turned it into a drinking game every time someone like Damien Cox or Nick Kypreos yells over someone to assert their opinion. Basically at this point the entire viewing experience is one giant bag of earwax flavored Jellybellies with a sparse sampling of okay flavors.

I hate this dumb sport and you.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”10″ size_format=”px”]this is just a parody.[/typography]

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