What’s in a Game: WFAN Statistician – JohnCarl Ziegler
When listening to the New Jersey Devils on WFAN 660 AM, you hear Matt Loughlin and Sherry Ross blurt out statistics with no hesitation at all. While these journalists are incredibly gifted at what they do, they have a little bit of help when it comes to the statistics. No, not the internet, but a man named JohnCarl Ziegler.
Ziegler graduated from St. John’s University in 2008, where he studied Sports Management. Hoping to one day become a broadcaster for the National Hockey League, Ziegler got his break when the New Jersey Devils were looking for a statistician to assist with radio broadcasts.
So what does it take to be a statistician for a NHL broadcast? Ziegler told me that organization and a good memory is key.
Each game day, Ziegler will write down everything he believes is key for the upcoming game for both teams, whether it’s an upcoming milestone, points streak, and even up-to-date stats on the players. He said he really likes looking at trends approaching the game as opposed to how a certain player has played his entire career versus a certain team. One example Ziegler told me was one game he noticed that Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov had four points within his last six games, and he felt this was an important stat to note because how often does Volchenkov have a hot streak like that.
Ziegler says he files away everything from every game just in case he needs to ever go back and check something over again, such as when a team returns to play the Devils at Prudential Center. He will pull out his folder and note what happened the last two times the teams faced each other at Prudential Center.
When it comes to obtaining certain information, Ziegler says he uses the Internet quite a bit, but really utilizes the media guide and his own memory. The media guide includes a lot of statistics, not only on present Devils players, but as well as previous seasons. This year, the New Jersey Devils didn’t print a media guide, but instead chose to use a digital version which is available on their website.
Not only do the media guide and the Internet help Ziegler when he needs to tell Matt Loughlin about an absurd statistic, but he depends on his own memory as well. Ziegler has been watching the Devils ever since he was a young child, and watches every game. And while he doesn’t know exact stats such as what the Devils record is on Tuesday games, he can tell you what the Devils record was in 1999-2000, and he credits it on the fact that he was there and able to witness it.
“There are a lot of times I’m very confident and I’ll just write it down without checking it because I know I’m 100% right, and I tell myself that I should really double check it, and I shouldn’t get too cocky, but I just know it’s right.”
Before he started working with the team, Ziegler attended every game he possibly could. His favorite memory as a fan occurred on June 9, 2003, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (yeah, he told me the EXACT date). He was sitting in Section 103, Row 19, Seats 1 & 2. Not only was it a special moment for him because the Devils had won the Stanley Cup, but he realized that it had been two years to the day, that the Devils lost a Game 7 to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals.
While working with the team, his favorite memory is his very first game during the 2006-2007 while he was still a junior in college. Being a fan, he had always dreamed of working for his favorite hockey team and now that he had the ability, he took it all in. About that game, Ziegler said, “Wow. So this is what it’s like. This is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? I like it!”
As with all jobs, being a statistician must get stressful right? According to Ziegler, wrong. Though he admits he has his moments where he zones out and watches the game while he should be getting the next statistic ready to be read over the airwaves, he is always in working, hockey mode 99.9% of the time and is stress-free 100% of the time.
Be sure to catch JohnCarl Ziegler’s statistic work during Devils home game broadcasts on WFAN 660 AM.
Posted on December 19, 2011, in New Jersey Devils, What's In A Game and tagged 2003 stanley cup, Devils, hockey, johncarl ziegler, Matt Loughlin, media guide, New Jersey Devils, off-ice, radio, sherry ross, st. john's university, statistician, statistics, wfan. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.