Opinion

Okay Gretzky... you're next.

Nelson Star editor Bob Hall celebrates the 1,000th Facebook like by getting the Sharpie out and then writing a column. - Sam Van Schie photo
Nelson Star editor Bob Hall celebrates the 1,000th Facebook like by getting the Sharpie out and then writing a column.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photo

I’m a stats geek. I’m not afraid to say it out loud (or write it on the page). Though I hate math, I love numbers when it comes to sports.

My fondest memories of newspapers when I was a kid was running downstairs in the morning to gather the Calgary Herald from the doorstep. I would pour myself a bowl of Frosted Flakes and start pouring over the previous night’s NHL numbers.

Though I might have watched the Calgary Flames game on television or even live at the Saddledome the night before, it was vital I find out that Pekka Rautakallio got the second assist on Jim Peplinski’s goal. Or that Pat Riggin faced 34 shots to earn the shutout.

It wasn’t only the Calgary Flames. In 1982, I could tell you exactly how many wins the New York Islanders had (54) and how many losses the Hartford Whalers racked up (41). I watched the season scoring leaders compile their points on a daily basis for six months until Wayne Gretzky finally put up 212 to lead the league and the Washington Capital’s Dennis Maruk recorded 136 to finish fourth.

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was observing the details of hockey history unfold on a daily basis. I was an obsessed 14-year-old whose parents probably wished I put that much effort into understanding how trigonometry worked.

What made watching sports so special for kids like me was there was constantly evolving measuring sticks. All-time records for both teams and individuals continue to fascinate me. Watching current NHL players eclipse marks from the 1980s brings back memories and is still exciting.

As I said off the top, I’m a wee bit weird.

Though my passion for stats has faded somewhat with age (and less free time), I still find myself delving into NHL and Major League Baseball numbers on the internet. I can get lost for hours scratching out information that’s basically useless in everyday life.

In the last couple of months, my passion for stats has turned inward to the Nelson Star.

On Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, the Nelson Star Facebook page recorded its 1,000th “like” (thank you Rochelle Erin Pearson). And like Lanny McDonald’s 1,000th career point (recorded as an assist on March 7, 1989 in a 9-5 Calgary Flames victory over the Winnipeg Jets), it’s a significant milestone for the paper.

For those of you who don’t know what a “like” on Facebook is (yes mom, this means you), here is what it’s all about. Individuals on Facebook have friends. Some have hundreds and maybe thousands of friends. I have a modest 262. Then there are Facebook pages for special interests, movies, music acts, newspapers and almost anything else you can imagine. If somebody “likes” your page, they follow the feed of information you post on a regular basis.

Here in the Nelson Star News Loft, we are most proud of the print product we deliver to your door twice a week. But in this brave new world of media, it’s important for us to dive fully into the on-line world of communication. It offers opportunity for both readers and providers of information.

What’s gratifying about our website (nelsonstar.com) and our Facebook page is that we have an ability to see what stories are being read and what stories people are responding to on a daily basis. Anything with “police” is a guarantee to lead the stats in numbers of reads, but we often find gems that people respond to as well. Features on interesting local characters, quirky bits we dig up and political turmoil often show strong in the daily numbers report we receive from Google Analytics. Having this information at our fingertips helps us put a priority on stories we know people are interested in reading.

Getting likes on Facebook just doesn’t happen. It takes work by our entire team to feed the on-line fire. And when you compare our little newspapers to others in our Black Press family and competitors around the province, we’re doing much better than average. That’s something we’re proud of and we thank the community for its tremendous support.

I might be a stats nerd, but I’m also competitive. I want this newspaper — both online and in print — to be the best it can be. Having statistical measuring sticks helps fuel the competition within in the media industry.

Like Lanny McDonald, we’re thrilled to hit the 1,000 mark. When I was a kid I thought Lanny was immortal, but he was mortal and retired from the NHL shortly after hitting 1,000 (he ended up with 1,006 in his career).

We are far from retiring.

Wayne Gretzky amassed an incredible 2,857 points in 1,487 games. So in the spirit of the greatest hockey player to have laced them up, the next Nelson Star Facebook goal is 2,857. Lofty yes, but I’m confident this community can pick up the assists and help us hit it.

Find us on Facebook by searching “Nelson Star News.”

 

Bob Hall is the editor at the Nelson Star. Email him at bob@nelsonstar.com. Find him on Twitter (292 followers) at @BobbyHall10 and Instagram (141 followers) at @bobbyhall10

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