The way that hockey is watched, played, and coached is changing, with the likes of big data, online streaming and tracking technology all having an impact on so many aspects of this popular sport.
Here are some of the ways that technological advances have revolutionised the game as well as how those same advances will develop it further down the line.
Tracking Players and Pucks
Before the 2019/20 NHL season it was announced that the league would be ratifying a deal with tech firm SMT to develop puck and player tracking technology that the league had previously been working on with another company called Jogmo World Corp.
This set tongues wagging about the possible application of such technology and how it could be used to boost everything from fan engagement to coaching analytics tools.
The league has been keen to play up how such vast data collection is all about bringing fans closer to the game. In part this is true, although, as we will show in the next section, this is only a fraction of what such data will be used for.
They Say Time is Money, But So Is Data
The NHL is in no way lying about their new technology acquisition enriching the fan experience. American sports fans are notorious for loving all the stats they can get their hands on, whether it is to keep up to date on how their favourite players are performing, or to piece together an idea of which teams they should back in an NHL parlay bet.
However, this is really only part of the story, with the data being collected by puck and player sensors having far wider ranging uses.
The main one of these is that data mining is the 21st century’s gold rush, as organisations and companies rush to monetise and take advantage of the swathes of rich data that they were previously squandering.
The data collected by the NHL will be highly sought after by everyone, from betting companies wanting to fine tune their odds, to advertisers wanting to know which players to endorse and computer game developers wanting to make their titles more life-like.
Scouting is Going Digital Thanks to Online Video Playback
What will be interesting to see is how this data will be relayed to respective NHL franchises, and whether team owners will be required to pay for the privilege of getting their hands on it.
This is because all NHL teams are already in the midst of creating and developing their very own data powered systems, which help coaches devise everything from player training programs to tactics in the leadup to a big game.
Other huge game changing tech advances in this regard are the new streaming services available to fans and coaches alike, further enhanced by the hook up the league made with Disney Streaming Services.
The main area this has revolutionised in the game is that coaching teams can pull together footage of their rivals in the blink of an eye, rather than messing around with fiddly VHS tapes or grainy video quality.
The same goes for scouting, with there now being little need to send scouts in-person to clubs and colleges to find new playing talent, because a live stream and accompanying data set means a scout can do their work from the franchise’s local offices – or even from the comfort of his or her own living room.