Tuesday, 19 September 2017

By The Numbers: Age vs. Maturity

Do birthdays matter when it comes to playing hockey?

It became a bit of a question in my mind when I went down a rabbit hole following a discussion with Jordan about possible topics for the blog and where to take Canes This Week next.  It all started when I took it upon myself to start cataloguing the birthdays of all Lethbridge Hurricanes players since the very first season.

As I wound my way through each roster using both the WHL website as well as HockeyDB, it started becoming clear that some months were way more popular than others.  As it turns out, this was a topic covered by the folks at DUB Network a while back.  So I thought I'd hyper-localize it to the Hurricanes.

Not surprisingly, the numbers jive here too.  The most popular month for players being born was January.  83 of the 530 birthdays I managed to catalogue happen in the first month of the season.

Now this all makes sense, because when it comes to your hockey age, you should (in theory) be a little bigger, a little stronger and a little smarter if you're born in January rather than born in the latter months.  Those growth spurts and the ability to build muscle are very real things.

So here's a breakdown of what I found (keeping in mind my math might be a bit off and I might have missed a player or two while going through the databases), with number of players born in each month and the percentage of the total number of players (530):

January - 83 - 15.66%
February - 55 - 10.38%
March - 59 - 11.13%
April - 71 - 13.39%
May - 55 - 10.38%
June - 31 - 5.84%
July - 40 - 7.54%
August - 45 - 8.49%
September - 30 - 5.66%
October - 24 - 4.52%
November - 19 - 3.58%
December - 18 - 3.40%

There are individual weeks in January and April in particular that have more birthdays in them than the entire month of December.

Here's a couple of more numbers to wrap your head around:

- 66.79% of all players were born in the first six months of the year
- 50.57% of all players were born in the first four months of the year

Even when you break things down according to the Hurricanes training camp roster listed on the website as of September 14th, the trend continues.  The big month is May with five, but we have four each in January and February and three each in March and April.  After that, it's a pretty sharp drop off with two in September and November, one each in July, August, October and December, and none in July.

Does your birthday actually mean you'll be successful though?  Not necessarily.  Just look at the top five point-getters in franchise history.

Jason Ruff - January 27
Shane Peacock - July 7
Nathan Barrett - August 3
Kevin St. Jacques - February 25
Bryan Bosch - August 10

And just in case you're curious: the most prolific birth date in Lethbridge Hurricanes history is April 7th.  According to my files, Clark Polglase (1969), Sean Beswick (1971), Blaine Fomradas (1972), Ivan Vologvaninov (1974), Dave Taylor (1978), Keldon Sanderson (1988), Paul Macdonald (1988) and Dustin Donaghy (1989) were born on that date, making a total of eight.

Makes one wonder if general managers and scouts go into meetings with players to ask when their birthdays are...

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