For the past few years, the Corsi number has been on the forefront of the analytics movement, and has become so well-known that it's being featured on many hockey broadcasts. For years, the fancy stat has been attributed to long-time Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi, whose name the stat bears.
But a new excerpt from TSN reporter Bob McKenzie's forthcoming book reveals that, despite what we've all thought for years, the Corsi number was actually inspired by a different Buffalo Sabres executive - Darcy Regier.
McKenzie spoke to fancy stat guru Vic Ferrari, the first man to track Corsi publicly, who revealed who it was that actually inspired him to start tracking the most popular advanced stat in hockey. This, from McKenzie:
Legend has it that Vic Ferrari heard long-time Buffalo Sabre goalie coach Jim Corsi on a radio interview talking about measuring a goalie's workload by tallying up not only shots on goal but missed shots and blocked shots as well and then Ferrari went into his secret hockey nerd lair in Edmonton, crunched the numbers, sprinkled some magic dust and, poof, Corsi was born, named for the cerebral goalie coach and former math teacher who inspired it.
Ferrari told me it was actually then Buffalo Sabre general manager Darcy Regier he originally heard on the radio talking about shot attempts, not Jim Corsi. In fact, at that moment, when Ferrari was listening to Regier, he had never even heard of Jim Corsi.
Here's what Ferrari told me in April:
I was going to call (the new metric) the "Regier" number. But it didn't sound good; it didn't seem right. Then I was going to call it the "Ruff" number (after then Sabres' coach Lindy Ruff), but that obviously sounded bad. So I went to the Buffalo Sabre website and looked at a picture of a guy on their website, and Jim Corsi kind of fit the bill. So I called it a "Corsi number" and then I pretended it was (Corsi) I heard on the radio talking about it - that's what I told people. That's basically (how Corsi got named).
This is an amazing twist into one of hockey's most popular new statistics, and a shocking feather in Darcy Reiger's cap. However, the story doesn't end there:
Ferrari had no idea back then, or even during our interview in April (until I told him), that Jim Corsi was actually the individual responsible for measuring a goalie's workload by counting shots on goal + missed shots + blocked shots and, therefore, Ferrari's random naming of Corsi turned out to be oh so fortuitous, that Regier wouldn't have been talking about it if not for Corsi.
"Oh, I had no idea of that," Ferrari said. "I just liked his moustache."
If there's a better explanation for the origin of one of hockey's fastest-growing new statistics than "I just liked his moustache," then I don't want to hear it.
Bob McKenzie's book, Hockey Confidential, comes out October 14.