How Blackhawks’ Jeff Greenberg Hopes to Close Gap Between Hockey, Baseball – NBC Chicago

How Jeff Greenberg Hopes to Make an Impact with Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Jeff Greenberg may have started his management career in baseball, but hockey was his first love. It was always in his mind that he might eventually be reconnected with the sport, and now that dream has become a reality after being hired by the Blackhawks as an associate general manager.

“I fell in love with the game from a very young age,” Greenberg said during a presentation of the Blackhawks Hockey Operations Executive Team Monday at the United Center. “I watched it as much as I could, even worked in baseball. It was probably in the back of my mind somewhere just because I loved the game and it never really stopped. It wasn’t something I wanted to actively seek, so I think this opportunity in particular was the right place at the right time.”

Greenberg was one of three finalists for the permanent general manager position in Chicago, which ultimately went to Kyle Davidson, who had his temporary tag removed on March 1. The two hit it off quickly after being hired and bonded over their similar backgrounds. Greenberg began as an intern with the Chicago Cubs and eventually worked his way up to assistant GM.

It didn’t take long for Davidson to realize why Greenberg had made it this far in the Blackhawks’ GM search and the potential value he could have to the organization. A bright mind and an innovative thinker, these are two of the many reasons Davidson brought Greenberg into his management group.

But perhaps the main reason Greenberg made the transition is to help the Blackhawks implement some of the systems and processes baseball uses, as hockey appears to be significantly behind in many areas.

“I had a pretty good feeling that baseball was pretty far ahead,” Greenberg said. “I mean, I didn’t know all the details, but that was one of the reasons the opportunity was quite interesting initially. My feeling was that there was an opportunity to move the needle and somehow close that gap between where hockey is now and where baseball has gone in the last 10 years.”

Greenberg acknowledges that there’s been an “explosion” of information, technology and data in baseball that has really accelerated over the past three or four years. Using this collective information is crucial when it comes to player evaluation, development, and even in-game strategy, but what you do with all this information matters most.

“What we’ve seen in baseball is having the information, having systems like that on you isn’t enough, is it?” Greenberg said. “It’s how you use those things, how you use those things effectively, how you put them on the field to make your players better, whether it’s related to player development, in-game strategy, or the Player Rating, it’s that integration that really affects what you do and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do.

“We are not trying to build systems or good processes to build good systems and good processes. We want it to really help drive what we do and how we attract players, how we develop our players, what we do in the game. I think there are principles and lessons in baseball that we can apply to hockey.

The second part of the equation is bringing all of this data and information together into one system, and we’re not just talking about analytics. There are daily reports, whether from the scouting department, discussions with a trainer, etc.

Think of the system as a “central living unit” as Davidson described it. And that will take some time.

“We want to get to a point where all of our information, whether it’s player development, scouting, any analytical information that we produce and any other scoring information or data or tool is in one system,” Davidson said. “This is a big build, this is a big step that we need to take and achieve that hopefully our decision making process is really streamlined down the road where all the information is in one place rather than pulling from a bunch of different areas to make a decision meet. It’s just a lot more efficient.”

Greenberg’s first day of work was last Monday, which means he’s just rolling up his sleeves as he prepares to help Davidson and the Blackhawks rebuild.

“I don’t want to speak for all 32 teams of course, I think baseball, most – if not all – teams have pretty modern sophisticated systems in place to process that information and then use it to actually drive their decision making, whether it’s in player acquisition, player development or in-game strategy,” Greenberg said. “I think that’s something that hockey is probably lagging behind at the moment, and I’m partly here because we want to try to fill that gap close.”

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