In Elliotte Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts column, he mused about the inclusion of women into NHL front offices. It turns out that Toronto might have been looking at adding one of the most talented analytical hockey fans to its staff, former lawyer Jennifer Costella (@RegressedPDO), but the timing of the move did not work out.
His column carefully does not confirm that Toronto actually offered Costella a position, but strongly implies it:
With Hammon’s summer success and Welter’s hiring, I wondered if anyone in the NHL considered following this path — adding a woman to either its coaching staff or management.
Turns out Toronto almost did, although the subject wouldn’t discuss it.
Jennifer Lute Costella graduated Valparaiso law school in 2001, describing herself as "a casual hockey fan." But, as the Chicago Blackhawks grew from doormat to nuclear superpower, she bought the Centre Ice package for the 2008-09 season. A trial lawyer who handled insurance defences (such as amusement park liability), she has a naturally analytical mind.
"I got into it more and more…and was thinking maybe I can do this," she said during a phone conversation last weekend. "I need to know every bit of minutiae and detail of everything I’m interested in. One thing people say I’m good at is teaching and translating information that’s not easy to understand into something more digestible."
"Eric Tulsky (now part of Carolina’s front office) taught me about tracking. I picked it up and ran with it, developing my own system — focusing on entries, exits and touches."
Costella’s work can be found through her Twitter handle (@Regressed PDO). It’s thoughtful. Personally, a lot of my thinking on analytics is changing. I’m learning much of the stuff we know publicly is irrelevant, and there is much deeper work to be discovered. Costella does quite a bit of that, delving into why things are a certain way and how they can be changed.
The Maple Leafs took notice.
Costella would not confirm Toronto’s interest or indicate what happened, only saying working for an NHL team is "something I’d like to do, and has been explored in the past." From what I understand, the conversations took place before Lou Lamoriello was hired. (Other club executives are off-limits, so I couldn’t check there, either.) The issue was timing. Costella stepped away from her practice a few years ago to be with her young family. It didn’t work out — for now.
In the meantime, she just launched LCG Analytics, a player-tracking service. Costella gave an interesting presentation about it at the recent Rochester Institute of Technology hockey analytics conference.