The NHL will introduce some fancy new data capturing mechanism at the World Cup of Hockey. Puck and Player tracking will make their debut this September, so what are they exactly?
The NHL is a fairly conservative institution. They aren’t known for being at the forefront of change or for even being that adaptable. But this fall, at the World Cup of Hockey some New York Islanders players will be part of a pilot project to test player and puck tracking.
Players, such as our own John Tavares will have microchips attached to their jerseys to track such things as zone times, passing and shooting distance, and even possession data, all in real-time.
Pucks will be equipped with sensors to measure shot velocity, shot direction, and distance it covers.
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Some of this information is already readily available thanks to the tireless efforts of those game trackers in the analytics community. Poring over game tape to count shots, passes, time of possession, etc…
But other data will be completely new to everyone. From the most hardcore to the newest fan. Such as puck travel distance and shot velocity.
How Does the Data Help
There’s going to be countless ways this data can be used for, but just at face-value puck travel distance and shot velocity seem the most beneficial.
In order for a puck to reach it’s intended target, it must first proceed along a certain trajectory, and hopefully, be unimpeded on the way. What if you could measure the optimal distance for a pass that minimizes the chances of a takeaway or for the pass to be broken up?
What about the optimal speed a puck needs to travel to reach a player in a crowd? Or how about where does a goalie need to be in order to cut the angle for a shot from the slot at 10 meters?
With this new real-time in-game tracking we, and especially the teams, will be able to find out. And then use it to their advantage.
Again, there are a ton of uses of this type of data that I’ve certainly omitted. But that’s just it. The door is open to so much more.
This doesn’t mean the NHL is now in the modern age of data capturing. The NHL still has much work to do to get there. But this is a step.
Getting tracking chips in players, infrared cameras in the stands, and even chips in the puck is a fantastic start. But the evolution needs to continue. Maybe the NHL can compile data on contracts? I heard that some people might be interested in that.