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On Grit

Do the Oilers need grit? What is grit? Why do the Oilers need grit? Is grit important? What is grit?

Leads the team in hits?  Sorry kid.  Not nearly gritty enough.
Leads the team in hits? Sorry kid. Not nearly gritty enough.
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

"It's easy to sit here and say we want Milan Lucic type players. We do. But we've got to find a way to draft, acquire, develop these kinds of players. It's a significant weakness and we've got to deal with it over a short period of time"

That's Craig MacTavish shortly after becoming Oilers General Manager on April 15th, 2013.


Gotta have grit. More grit. You know what would make the Oilers a better team? Grit. The Oilers need grit. This team isn't gritty enough, they need more grit. This team could benefit from some grit. They've got a lot of talent, but their lack of grit is a concern.

...and on, and on, and on and on.


While Edmonton was busy crushing Columbus the other day, I took a cursory look at the box score from the game and noticed that Columbus outhit Edmonton by a wide margin. I made a Twitter comment about how the team that was laying a beat down on the scoreboard was trailing in the hit department by a wide margin, and that grit was overrated and dumb.


I received many enthusiastic responses to that tweet. A select minority saw that the team with the greater time of possession had less hits, and that this was a good thing. The majority who responded saw this tweet as an affront to the game, as I clearly didn't know what I was talking about.


Stupendous. The team needs grit, apparently. I made the mistake of looking at the hit totals exclusively, but there's obviously more to grit, as all the good teams have it, and those who don't, want it.

Nearly a month ago, Derek identified Sportsnet's "Grit Chart" (c/o @bookofloob) and their four categories of "grit", which included PIMs, blocked shots, fights, and hits. The team that led the grit-chase was Philadelphia, and we know how well they've been playing as of late.


What is grit? Is it puck battles along the boards? Finishing the check? Fights? Hits? Blocked shots? Penalty minutes? All of these? Why doesn't anyone (other than Sportsnet) take account of grit, or tally grit, or make a chart about grit, or analyze grit data and show how it relates to winning?  Is grit like 'clutch', something that doesn't exist, but people talk about all of the time?

This team seems to look for grit every year. When they slot a player in the lineup who clearly can't contribute on the score sheet like Luke Gazdic, Steve MacIntyre or Will Acton, they're doing it for other reasons that aren't very good, like "energy" or "protection" or some other word that us cretins will never fully understand because we don't play in the NHL. In other words, they know a thing or two about winning, if there's any question about that.

Does this team need more grit? What is grit? Why do people say that this team needs more grit?