NHL News

World Cup Of Hockey To Utilize Puck/Player Tracking, Ads

By Colin Likas
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Logan Stanley is greeted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after being selected as the number eighteen overall draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Logan Stanley is greeted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after being selected as the number eighteen overall draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /
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The World Cup of Hockey is going to show us some things that we don’t see in a typical NHL contest

As the 2016-17 NHL season gets closer with each passing day, it can be kind of easy to forget we’ll be able to see competitive hockey a lot sooner than that. The 2016 World Cup of Hockey is now about a month away, set to kick off Sept. 17. And it’s going to feature some tweaks from what we see in NHL games.

It’s been announced that the league will utilize puck and player tracking on the ice, as well as experiment with small advertisements on player jerseys. Both of these items have been brought up in the past as potential future NHL items.

Let’s start this discussion, then, with the player and puck tracking. This will be run in partnership with Sportvision, a company that describes itself as “the nation’s premier innovator of sports and entertainment products for fans, media companies and marketers.” How will it work?

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On the player side, chips embedded in the players’ jerseys will track various on-ice analytics, including distance skated, speed reached, zone positioning and more, both across full periods and single shifts.

So player tracking is more for the league than for the fans, although there are many hockey fans who will likely appreciate the advanced analytics this technology can (hopefully) provide. It’s not as though there’s going to be little floating name tags following each player around on the TV broadcast of each World Cup game. This is a different kind of tracking.

Same thing with the puck tracking. All World Cup of Hockey pucks will have a chip embedded in them to help track various on-ice statistics. This does not appear to be similar to the failed NHL experiment from the late 1990s, the Glow Puck. From everything I’ve read, there’s not going to be a streak of light following the puck to benefit television viewers in tracking the puck’s trajectory.

Both of these tracking ideas could have great benefits for NHL teams, as well as fans interested in more advanced statistics. It’s going to be interesting to see just how well this tracking technology works. The game is extremely fast nowadays, and hopefully the technology is able to keep up with the pace of play.

Could jersey ads be part of the NHL’s future? The league is experimenting in the World Cup of Hockey

An additional item on the docket for the World Cup is jersey ads, a much-debated facet that could hit the NHL any year now. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been wishy-washy on the idea of ads on NHL jerseys, but it appears he’s at least willing to give it a look on a smaller scale.

TSN’s Rick Westhead cited a source as saying the NHL would be gauging fan reaction to the ads during the World Cup of Hockey, presumably using that to decide when and on what level ads can be implemented in the NHL. The ads don’t sound like they’ll be very large in the World Cup, as they’ll just appear on players’ shoulders.

There seems to be little middle ground on fans’ views on jersey ads. They’re primarily seen as a necessary item for the future, for a league that lacks the money and attention of North America’s other three professional sports leagues; or something that will ruin NHL jerseys and the league’s history.

I really don’t see a problem with ads like the ones that will be used in the World Cup. It will be interesting to see how they look on jerseys. There’s a chance they could go overboard, but the NHL really could use all the money and positive exposure it can get.

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