Editor’s note: Oh snap, it’s the return of the Making RMNB Last essay series. RMNB Patrons give Peter a topic, he writes, you read. Enjoy!
From the end of 2010 until the end of 2014, Alex Ovechkin was the baby-smooth face of men’s razors and shaving products company Gillette. Except for special exceptions, Ovi kept his chin tidy for contractual reasons. In late 2010, HBO 24/7 captured the ritual in action:
Among RMNB readers, Ovi’s shaving habits were controversial. Andrew F., who originally wanted me to write about Filip Forbserg but eff that noise, asked me to conduct a serious statistical comparison of The Two Ovis: shaved and scruffy.
Hell yeah, Andrew. It’s on.
For the purposes of this study, cleanshaven Ovi shall be Jan 1, 2011 – Dec 31, 2014. Scruffy Ovi shall be everything else.
My hypothesis: they won’t even look like the same player.
|5v5 rel SA%||+1.7||+4.6|
Well, I’m shocked. I guess I should point out that– even when shaving on the reg– Ovi was never really bad. Even when under the cruel domination of a Procter & Gamble company, Ovechkin didn’t make his team worse, but he certainly looked less like the one of a kind offensive force he was when he was rocking the neckbeard.
For comparison, 1.0 goals per 60 minutes is a threshold for only about the top 10 percent of forwards. It’s still a great scoring rate; it’s Patrice Bergeron territory.
But 1.5 goals per 60 minutes, dude. In a full season, you’ll only see one or two guys ever hit that number– your Nashes, your Tarasenkos, your itchy-face Ovechkins.
Same deal with the relative possession. Adding 1.7 percent of the shot attempts in your team’s favor is good, though not earth-shattering, for a top-line forward. But a plus-4.6 relative possession score indicates an elite force at 5v5. Opposing teams scout a plus-4.6 player; general managers covet them.
People often point out that possession is a team stat that we just happen to track on an individual level. Maybe Ovi’s overall shot-attempt percentage with and without facial hair tells us less about him and more about his team– a Cup-contending 55 percent when his face smells like what he ate for lunch, and a bubble team when he’s freshly shaved.
In the face of overwhelming evidence, I’m forced to conclude that Gillette contract was a disaster for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. When babyfaced, Ovechkin stopped being the superpowered superfun superfriend he was when he was embearded. That difference was dramatic and costly.
Consider this: Each home playoff game is worth about one million dollars to a team. How many playoff games did the Caps lose just because Ovechkin’s face was bald? At least twenty, right? It’s a stunning but unavoidable conclusion: shaving cost Alex Ovechkin a Stanley Cup.
P.S. After long hours of careful thought, I’ve decided that the cleanshaven/scruffy difference has literally nothing to do with the natural effects of aging, Bruce Boudreau’s retreat from offense in early 2011, Dale Hunter’s diminished role for Ovechkin in the remainder of that same season, or Adam Oates’ stupefying incompetence.
Thanks for the donation and the question, Andrew F.
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