PIONEERS IN HOT TAKES: STEVE SIMMONS

By | July 8, 2015

When we were mulling over what #hot #content to feature on the site for launch day, it became clear that we probably needed to provide our readers with a primer on some of the people that are doing really great work in the piping hot take department. For our inaugural post, I can’t think of anybody better than The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons.

Simmons, like most hockey writers in Toronto, is a genius. I mean, just look at the guy. Standing proud, arms crossed, ready to serve up piping hot takes for anyone willing to listen. Make no mistake, this is a man on a mission. He even looks somewhat inviting with that (what I assume is an) attempted smile.

The thing that sets Simmons apart from his hot take compatriots is that his piping hot takes serve a greater social purpose. Simmons fancies himself a warrior in the battle against creeping nerdism in hockey (that is, the use of “advanced statistics” that aren’t so much “advanced” as they are unfamiliar). Indeed, this brave soldier thwarts any attempt to analyze hockey in any substantive way that deviates from pre-constructed narratives, and his weapon of choice is the piping hot take.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Simmons is that he doesn’t let pesky facts or truth get in the way of dishing out a piping hot take. Take this recent example, in which he lists a number of things that so-called “advanced statistics” in hockey can’t measure:

WHAT THE STATS DON’T TELL YOU
Why hockey doesn’t lend itself to statistical analysis the way other sports do:
There is no statistic to accurately quantify neutral-zone play.
There is no statistic that tell you which wingers gets the puck off the boards and out of their zone and which wingers do not.
There is no statistic that defines vision and creativity: That is pure subjectivity.
There is no statistic that measures play without the puck, a most important factor in most games.
There is no statistic, outside of individual team stats, that measures scoring chances which, again, is a subjective stat.
There is no statistic that separates a good dump-in from a bad dump-in. There is a difference, just as there is for a good line change and a bad one.
There is no statistic that indicates individual ability to win loose puck battles, especially in close games or the last minutes of periods or late in shifts.

Now don’t tell Steve, but pretty much every thing he listed actually can be measured by statistics that currently exist. And while the entire premise of that article is most likely made up, these facts are beside the point. Simmons, in trying to promote the social good of keeping people from understanding things better, had to stretch the truth a bit. And who cares? One of the principles of solid hot takery is to never let the truth stand in the way of dishing out a piping hot take.

You might be asking, “well, doesn’t stretching the truth leave him vulnerable to criticism?” I’m glad you brought that up, thanks, great question.

See, what makes Simmons a true pioneer of hot takes is that when some nerd confronts him with the truth, he doubles down. Listen to this recent exchange between Steve and probable basement dweller Tyler Dellow. When Dellow brings up that Mikhail Grabovski is an objectively better player than Dave Bolland, Simmons confronts him with shouting, straw men, and ad hominem attacks.

A true piping hot take pioneer does this when he’s wrong. Luckily for Steve, he’s wrong so often that he’s gotten plenty of practice and has pretty much mastered it.

(side note: both Bolland and Grabovski recently signed multi-year contracts, and Bolland gets paid more per year. Who’s the better player now, Dellow? You tried to get Steve to admit something false – Steve would never ever say that Grabovski is even worthy of playing in the NHL.)

Besides his tenuous grasp on truth and facts, Simmons’ also solidifies himself as a true pioneer in hot takes for his ability to make premature judgments that are almost always proven wrong.

See, a true hot take artist doesn’t wait for things to “pan out” or for “all the evidence to be presented” to serve up a piping hot take. Hell, sometimes the demand for hot takes is so strong (we have seen lines around the block here at The Hot Takery) that you can’t even spend time asking yourself “does this hot take sound like it was created  by someone with the the typical mental faculties of an adult male?” Simmons knows and practices all this, which makes him such a valuable member of the hot take community.

Take this piping hot example, in which Simmons asks, “Where are the critics of [Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Dave] Nonis’ off-season moves now?” on the twelfth day of the 2013-2014 NHL season. Simmons doesn’t need stupid stuff like time and evidence to hold him back from dishing up a piping hot take — the six games that the Maple Leafs had played up to that point were more than enough for him to deem Nonis’ off-season transactions a success. Nevermind that the newly acquired Dave Bolland would be limited to just 23 games, and that David Clarkson would regress to the point where his contract is pretty much a cruel joke. Those things weren’t true when Simmons wrote that piece, so you can’t really fault the guy.

And let’s not forget the now-infamous “Corsi Hockey League” tweet, in which our brave soldier boldly predicted that the Toronto Maple Leafs were doing just fine despite what nerds with calculators were saying. Of course, the Leafs ended up missing the playoffs due to a plummeting drop in PDO, but they were doing just fine on October 29. Steve was the only one out there with the cojones to say it, and that’s an attribute of a true hot take master.

Good thing the Leafs don’t play in the CHL. The CORSI hockey league. They’re doing just fine in NHL, though.

— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) October 30, 2013

So here’s to you, Steve Simmons. Your penchant for ignoring facts and shoddy analysis places you squarely in the hall of fame here at The Hot Takery. May your takes continue to be piping hot.