I have a sort of enduring fascination with Steve Mason, who has just signed with the Flyers for $1.5MM for the 2013-14 season, because he represents so many things. For one, he’s a data point in the argument that people with NHL gigs make some horrendous mistakes that incorporating data into their work might prevent:
Steve Mason posted a .939 save percentage through his first 23 games and .899 thereafter. I know he had mononucleiosis and such but that number should concern Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock. I wonder what kind of odds I could get on “Steve Mason plays at least 10 games in the AHL in 2009-10″.
I would have lost that bet but not for lack of being right.
Then there’s this: a graph of Steve Mason’s rolling ten game save percentage throughout his career.
Mason created an impression in his first twenty odd games. That impression has cost multiple coaches and general managers their jobs. He’s at something close to $9MM in career earnings.
Look, I’m a believer in markets and in the idea that people shouldn’t be heavily taxed because we want to encourage people to do things that result in them making great gobs of money but my God: if the NDP wants to convince Canadians that markets don’t work and we require the intervention of all-knowing bureaucrats to regulate things and that high taxes are fine because people absolutely don’t earn the money they make, you could do a lot worse than just publishing this graph.
Of course, a canny free marketer might argue that Mason’s only earned the money’s he’s earned because of the socialism of the NHL and the caps on wages of actual good players in actual good markets – if the NHL didn’t have a salary cap and transfer money to places like Columbus, Mason would never have earned what he’s earned because Columbus wouldn’t have had the money and he wouldn’t be able to get a job in a place like Philadelphia because they’d have a backup who was much better than him.
In summary, Steve Mason is many things: he’s evidence in support of data, rich, a man who’s cost several people their jobs, a walking argument in support of high taxation/market failure AND the fact that socialism is bad. He is not, however, a good goalie. It’ll be funny as hell if he pulls off an impression of one at some point next year and the Flyers go all in on him though.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org