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Derek Rawlings
Works at Clio - Practice Management Simplified
Lived in New Westminster, BC
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It was so nice today that I went out to Pier Park in #newwest  today for some meditation.  
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I did a quick walk by on the way to Gman's class. Reason enough to take him when they restart after the holiday. 
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I stand behind anyone, and certainly Mr. +Elon Musk who endeavours to drag us kicking and screaming into the future...
To the people of New Jersey...
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Derek Rawlings

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The fuuuuuture...
Robot trashcan calculates where your trash is going to land.  We're officially living in the future.
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You miss all of these wonderful things!
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Derek Rawlings

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I'm excited to say that I'm going to be starting a new D&D game with friends, including many I haven't storytold for before...

I've got a fun premise which has my players interested, but one of the side-effects is that we'll be playing in a fantasy setting with decidedly lower technology than the standard fantasy genre.  For someone who's not a big history nerd it's going to be a challenge, but I'm eager to confront this.

Today I spent some time researching currency.  I've decided that the standard unit of small trade currency will be brass stamped coins, with silver coins having just been introduced here and there.  Ingots of precious metals will serve as larger forms of exchange, though older systems like barter and livestock will still feature prominently.

I'm looking forward to getting even more into this as time goes on..
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That sounds fun! If I were doing this I might want to make a table for buying and selling to add quirks to the transaction.
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The Race to the Bottom
Addressing Systemic Failings of the NHL Draft

The NHL draft is a broken system.  It doesn't incent the right kinds of behaviour and it creates problematic emergent behaviours that don't benefit the NHL, the players or the fans.

I'll start by saying that having an NHL draft is essential for the long-term health of the sport.  If there were no mechanism for how players could be attained there would be all manner of backroom dealings, overt coercion and bribery as well as positive feedback loop where the teams with money and success continue to get the best players and invariably enjoy continued success.  In place of this anarchy the league has instituted a system for selecting players that has certain implicit and explicit design goals:

The NHL rightfully believes that a professional sports league that has strong teams top to bottom is a better product than one where teams rarely rise above their social class.  As such the primary objective of the draft is to provide underachieving teams an opportunity to improve over time.  The worst teams get access to the best prospects, and the most successful teams get the sloppy seconds (sorry, couldn't resist the Sean Avery quote, there).

This seems like an effective means to even out the league, but it runs into a host of very visible problems:

1. Once a team no longer has a reasonable expectation to make the playoffs they are punished for winning hockey games.  A team that misses the playoffs can in fact only gain by losing.  

2. Poor teams are getting good picks, but they're not improving. Look at Edmonton, look at the Islanders, look at the Jets/Thrashers.  Yes, there are some teams that are clawing themselves close to a playoff spot, but many teams that did poorly 5 years ago are still doing poorly today.  By corollary the teams that are doing well are by and large still doing well.

The Lottery
The NHL introduced a lottery system as a means of mitigating certainty in the draft.  I'm quite certain it was creating solely so that the worst performer could not game the system and be guaranteed the first selection.  But what does this fix, actually?

1. The worst performer will never get the third, fourth or fifth pick, since a team cannot drop beneath one rank of their standing.  Hearty incentive still remains to be as close to the bottom of the table as possible.  

2. It doesn't change the gamability of the draft. At all. All it does is offer an arbitrary potential punishment.  At present the lowest ranked team has a 25% chance of getting the first pick, or a 75% chance of getting the second pick.  Game theory still suggests that finishing the worst maximizes your advantage.

In a perfect NHL world, with parity all 30 teams are competing down to the wire to get into the post season.  Now while there are a number of teams that stay in contention for a very, very long time, there are a number of teams that know they have no chance.  Once the decision is made to be a "seller" at the trade deadline a team has condemned themselves to missing the playoffs and have indeed begun the self-sabotaging required to do their best at trying to be the worst!

However, unlike in other sports there is no suspense at the bottom of the table.  In the NHL teams are rewarded for cataclysmic failure and mismanagement.  For sake of comparison, if you look at the Premier League, in Football (soccer), the bottom 3 teams run the risk of being kicked out of the league.  Could you imagine what would happen in the NHL if the bottom teams got booted to the AHL?!  

The lottery system is also a giant narrative let-down.  A bunch of teams end up low in the draft and have "a chance" of getting the first pick. An NHL official walks over to a ball-spinny thing and pulls a ball.

How dull is that?

There's no drama there... there's no tension... it doesn't prove anything.  Teams don't earn anything, other than the good graces of the hockey gods, who smiled upon them that one time and granted them the one best ball of unfettered choosey-ness. 

Fixing it
So according to what I've written, we want a draft system that does the following:

- Incents a team to have the best possible team even when mathematically eliminated from the post season
- Incents teams to not finish dead last in the standing
- Incents managers away from gaming the system
- Incents a fan to continue watching the bottom of the table
- Incents a fan to attach value to the format.

Here's how envision the NHL draft going:

Host a tournament, starting at some point during the actual playoffs. Take the worst eight teams, put them in two pools (Pool A: 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th and Pool B: 24th, 26th, 28th, 30th). Have them play a round robin, and take the top two from each pool.

When breaking ties in pool play, the team that did worst wins.

Of the remaining teams have the worst team play the 3rd worst team and the 2nd worst team play the 4th worst team in a best of three, and then the winners play each other in another best of three.

The winner is awarded the first pick, the runner-up the second, all the way down, with ties being broken by having the worst regular season team getting the higher pick.

Let's compare that to our design objectives:

- Incents a team to have the best possible team (if your team isn't good enough they are less likely to win the draft tournament)
- Incents teams to not finish dead last in the standing (there is no benefit to being in last place, except for being higher ranked in ties - you need to get out of pool play to get a top 4 pick)
- Incents managers away from gaming the system (since the bottom eight teams are playing hockey they are succeeding or failing by their ability to play hockey, and not game some external system)
- Incents a fan to continue watching the bottom of the table 
- Incents a fan to attach value to the format. (So imagine this: it's 2005 and Sidney Crosby is predicted to go first overall by a landslide.  The bottom eight teams, including your beloved team, are competing for the right to choose him.  How exciting is that?! There's a future foundation player on the line, and as a fan your team has a chance at him.  As a player you have the chance to earn a superstar on your teams' roster.  All they have to do is win in a 7 to 9 game tournament.)

In addition to addressing the design criteria we're also creating a new revenue opportunity for the league.  More revenue means happier managers and a happier league.

Drawbacks to this system
I'll admit, it's not all roses, but I do think it's better much better than the system we had before.  There are a couple of ways I see the system failing:

1. A team that has traded their draft pick away is incented to throw the draft tournament, because the pick doesn't matter to them anyways.  To this I say "too bad, so sad." If a team wants to phone it in I can't think of a way to stop them but I will say that even using the current lottery draft system this same problem applies.  There are even reasons to try to win.  For instance, by doing well you may be denying division rivals a higher pick. Also by doing well you ensure that your 2nd round pick comes possibly a touch sooner.

2. Injuries can hamper a team's ability to win the draft tournament.  I agree that this inhibits a team from playing their best, but, hopefully on aggregate over many seasons this normalizes across all teams. 

3. Poorly managed teams won't be able to get the draft picks they need to get better despite themselves.  To this I have zero sympathy. If your management team bungles up so badly that they can't compete in a field composed of the eight worst teams in the league then fire your managers and find someone who can right the ship.  They don't deserve the top pick.

Anyways, I hope you've enjoyed this long-winded breakdown.  I'd love to hear your thoughts if your a hockey fan (or even if you're not, really).
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Derek Rawlings

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This is my find of the day...
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Have him in circles
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Derek Rawlings

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Anyone here fans of Twilight Imperium? How about that classic video game Star Control II?

If you're a fan of both I've hacked together a basic rules package (no diplomats, capital ships or racial tech) for many of the more interesting Star Control races to be used in TI.

Would love your thoughts.
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Derek Rawlings

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I love this saying... 

Wikipedia tells me it means "for this time only," "never again," or "one chance in a lifetime."

I'm a tea nut, and this is often hung in tea houses to remind people that this experience, this conversation you're about to have, is one you'll never have again.  It reminds me that every day I do things I'll never do again, and that I should approach them with excitement and conviction.  

It's easy to sleepwalk through opportunities, it's more difficult to bask in them and appreciate that transient moment.

This year, I aspire to the latter.
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phone background!
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I lose sleep over this issue frequently. Thanks for clearing it up for me, +Jason Pitre!
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Good to know.
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Have him in circles
1,615 people
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  • Clio - Practice Management Simplified
    Account Manager, 2011 - present
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The man in the back who said "Everyone attack."
I woke up one day and had a pirate ship-shaped growth coming out of the top of my head.  At first I thought was kind of gross, but I've come to live with it.

Stuff I'm interested in:
  • Ideology: I am pro-transit, urban densification, LEED construction & education reform.
  • Social Media: I keep up on trends in technology & how social media can improve lives.
  • Tea: I like sampling new teas, serving tea & addicting coworkers.
  • Soccer: I play left back when possible & follow our Vancouver Whitecaps (and Canucks).
  • Poker: I'm just good enough to think I'm good, but rarely good enough to win.
  • Entrepreneurship: I like exploring how the many facets of business work together.
  • General Geekdom: I'm a nerd - I can talk all kinds of sci-fi, comic books, video games & RPGs.
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(The opinions expressed on G+ are entirely my own)
Bragging rights
Sent someone to the WSOP, wore a boat on my head, writing a blog and a business plan...
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New Westminster, BC - Delta, BC - Toronto, ON
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Derek Rawlings's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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