Puck tracking finally became a thing at the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend, and it should be ready for full deployment by the time the playoffs roll around.
It’s still a work in progress, but the NHL’s much anticipated puck and player tracking system is finally coming into effect.
When the NHL All-Stars took the ice in the 2020 skills competition and All Star Game, they were all wearing some extra equipment, that equipment being an extra tag sewn into the back of their jerseys. The puck also had a new built in sensor. These new additions can record how fast players are going, accurate shift times, shot locations, and passes. Along with these new sensors, this data will be collected with a mix of on ice sensors and in arena antennas.
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Another feature of this new technology will feature puck trails, which will make the puck easier to follow on the ice.
This kind of puck tracking will obviously change hockey is consumed, and add a new level of depth to hockey broadcasts. You’ll be able to really see how each game is going, rather than relying on simpler stats like shots or hits.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said on the Friday before the skills competition that player and puck tracking will be operational for all 16 playoff teams in the postseason, and for all NHL teams by the beginning of the 2020-21 season.
”There will be more data than ever before,” Bettman said. ”I believe the players will generate something like 200 data points per second and the puck 2,000 data points a second, so in terms of getting inside the game, telling stories, as a fan delving in to get what you’re interested in, you’re going to be able to do more things than ever before and even imaginable.”
However, if you’re worried about this new puck tracking system making it too difficult to focus on the actual game, worry not. There will be a way to continue to watch each game traditionally, or with the additional information depending on what each fan wants.
“As a fan and a viewer, what you want it to be. You’ll be able to watch the game as you’ve always watched it traditionally if that’s what you want. There’ll be broadcast enhancements that the broadcasters can use either on the primary screen or on secondary screens. There will be more data than ever before.”
The NHL will continue to test the puck tracking during select games during the regular season, though they haven’t decided which ones yet. Hopefully all the kinks can be worked out before the playoffs, but as long as the additional data is optional, there should be very little to complain about.
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