Puck and player tracking are making great strides in the NHL

When Buffalo rookie Owen Power scored his first NHL goal, the replay from five different angles was available within seconds from a private suite at the Prudential Center, as the team celebrated below. A few doors down, donning a helmet virtually puts you on ice with a cast of cartoon characters re-enacting the room.

More than three years after puck and player tracking was first tested by the NHL, technology has advanced in leaps and bounds to give coaches just about all the information they need during and after a game. match. When the playoffs begin next week, fans will continue to see more details about player speed, shot speed and other metrics; by next season they should have access to some of this data as well.

“We will be putting more puck and player tracking data on our website in the near future for fans to have access to for the first time,” said the senior manager of coaching apps and general manager. of the NHL, Brant Berglund, during the last bulletin of the league. technology showcase during a game between Buffalo and New Jersey. “He’ll be there next season and maybe even as early as the playoffs this season for some of them.”

Showing how well someone throws the puck – and how often a player breaks 20 mph – is just the start of the lineup of futuristic technology coming to a hockey arena near you. The next wave includes real-time video and instant replays available to fans on their phones and steps towards augmented and virtual reality.

Coaches already have access to all puck and player tracking data as part of the app developed for their use on the bench during games. It includes a two-dimensional illustration of the game with players turned into small circles with their numbers on them and everything from average and maximum speed to when an opponent is most likely to shoot the goalie when he’s on the line. trails by a number of goals.

Broadcasters could be next to get an app like this to illustrate trends, with fans finally getting their hands on all the data, more than ever before.

“You can spend a lot of time and get great insight into what’s going on in the game,” NHL chief technology officer Peter DelGiacco said. “We think the opportunity we have in the next couple of years to take all that data and create ideas and make the game a lot more relevant with better stories and be a lot more entertaining for all the fans – not only the fans. It will also give you better information that you didn’t really know.

Hockey fans aren’t the only ones who appreciate shot heatmaps or live speed data. Executive Vice President of Business Development and Innovation Dave Lehanski said Arena fans want replays available more than anything else.

The good news on this front is that the technology is already available and has been implemented with nine NFL teams and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Inside a phone app, a fan present can pause and rewind the game and view it from multiple angles.

“We really want to personalize the experience,” said Eric Nagy, director of sports partnerships and innovation at Verizon. ” We are here. It’s something we’re pushing now.

Already in place are replay vaults filled with automated clips and others cut by people. Coming soon are iPad experiences integrated with social media and gambling, where odds are available in real time for live betting.

Bottom line is VR which can take anyone inside the game and on the ice into a 3D world that might feel realistic or more like a cartoon world. Strap on a helmet and you can see a model of the game from defender PK Subban’s perspective.

“We can make the characters look anything you want,” said Nicolaas Westerhof, co-founder of virtual reality company Beyond Sports. “We can go to any camera angle. Everyone can actually select their own camera angles. It’s like creating your own experience.

Lehanski said the combination of the puck and player tracking system, the 5G networks in every arena, and the cloud is building the infrastructure that could create tons of real-world applications when more advanced goggles and stuff are more readily available.

Commissioner Gary Bettman called the opportunities “unlimited”.

“We want to make sure that your connection to the game and your viewing experience, wherever you are, including the game, gives you everything you want and brings you into the game in a way that people never would. imagined,” Bettman mentioned. “And that’s what we do.”

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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