So many leading professional sports have embraced cutting-edge technology over the last decade that it’s perhaps surprising how long the big data boom has taken to finally hit the NHL. Nevertheless, after more than two decades of planning and over six years of development, Puck and Player Tracking is finally set to arrive according to a recent article by Betway.
While the NHL initially planned to launch their new system this season, there have been inevitable setbacks leading to delays. Fitting delicate electronics into pucks has proven uniquely difficult to get right, while there’s also the matter of installing all the right equipment and infrastructure at the 31 hockey arenas. This led to the NHL holding back on their plans and also changing technology providers, in order to ensure everything was perfect before launch.
“This season, the #NHL is debuting a puck and player tracking system developed by SMT… The system promises to unleash a tsunami of data about player speed and execution—and change the way that coaches, broadcasters and fans interact with the game.”
— SMT (@SMTlive) October 10, 2019
Along with featuring at the 2020 All-Star Game at the end of January, the NHL now plans to fully launch Puck and Player Tracking for the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in April. As this is expected to be a revolutionary step forward for professional hockey, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits this new technology will bring.
Some 2,000 data points per second will be monitored and gathered by tracking technology in the puck, in the shoulder pads of players and via devices located around the rink itself, according to a recent study released by Betway. This will contribute towards an estimated 9.3 million events per statistical category being logged during every regulation game.
The NHL will experiment with Puck and Player Tracking at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Jan. 25, and the system should be ready around the Stanley Cup Playoffs, reports @cotsonika https://t.co/Lb2zEKrARH
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) November 18, 2019
This huge amount of data will provide real-time performance analytics that coaching staff and players can access from the bench, livestreamed to their individual devices. With access to live data on everything from player possession to the effectiveness of power plays and numerous other metrics, this could revolutionize how coaches adapt their tactics during games, along with helping to decide when and where to best use players during games.
Form & Physical Fitness
Thanks to the sensors fitted into player shoulder pads, not only will coaches have an abundance of data to help assess their practical effectiveness and performance, but data and analysis that provides important information regarding fitness levels during games will also be provided. For a professional sport in which more than 50% of players miss at least one game per season due to injury, fitness monitoring could be an absolute game changer, following in the same vein as professional outdoor athletes and other physical demanding pursuits.
This is what players are wearing on their shoulder pads as part of the NHL Puck and Player Tracking system. The sensor is inside a protective case. pic.twitter.com/ULT3cirxVg
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) January 25, 2019
Algorithms within the tracking technology will be able to monitor the fitness and stamina of players during games, assessing when players are most effective, detecting any decline in effectiveness and potential risk of injury, along with data to highlight peak performance metrics. Such data could also prove invaluable when coaches are planning training regimes, either for the whole team or towards dictating player-specific schedules and drills.
Better Informed Fans
Perhaps the biggest advantage aside from those provided to the protagonists on the ice will be the amount additional of data fans will be able to access. Sportbusiness.com has highlighted audience participation as one of the key elements the new NHL systems will enhance, allowing fans to engage in more ways than ever before.
NHL puck and player tracking will change how fans consume the game.
Catch more during this weekend’s #NHLAllStar coverage on Sportsnet!
Skills 🏒: Friday @ 9PM | Game 🥅: Saturday @ 7:30PM pic.twitter.com/K3aNYnhDzN
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 25, 2019
Puck and Player Tracking will bring enhanced statistics and metrics for fans along with a wealth of additional ways to bet on games, all thanks to the additional data the technology will bring. Given the tech-savvy lifestyle of contemporary sports fans, the demand for such enhanced ways of engaging has existed for a number of years, with the thirst for more apps and ways to interact now being fully addressed by the NHL.
21st Century Hockey
There’s no doubt that with the fully-functional introduction of Puck and Player Tracking technology, the NHL and professional hockey as we know it will be forever changed. Whether that’s for the better is still a hot topic for discussion among fans, although the League itself is confident that with the systems used, the sport will become fairer and enjoy an increased appeal amongst sports fans. Let’s hope they’re right!