LAS VEGAS (AP) – A live video on a screen showed how many feet per second Erik Karlsson was skating. On another screen, a representation of the game on the ice between Vegas and San Jose looked like a video game. The nearby screens were betting on the proposals – where would the next goal be? Would Max Pacioretty skate 3 miles tonight? – as the odds have been updated to the second.
In a very high corridor of the T-Mobile Arena, virtual reality headsets gave a view of the game from the point of view of anyone, from Marc-André Fleury to Joe Thornton, to a fan of section 214.
The NHL this week tested the puck and player tracking for the first time regular season games, an exciting step with the idea of placing it in the league next season. The NHL will join and potentially outperform the NFL with real-time tracking technology that, it is hoped, will have broad ramifications for teams, players and fans from Florida to Vancouver.
An overwhelming amount of data will soon be available for analysis, broadcasters and, of course, gamers, as sports betting grows after last year's US Supreme Court decision.
"This will dramatically change the game," said Dave Lehanski, senior vice president of business development for the NHL. "We are now going to track or capture about 350 events per game – shot, pass, hit, save – at 10,000. That alone at the end of the day, you're going to have a tremendous amount of new data that no one has ever seen before. "
Microchips were added to players' epaulettes and inserted into pucks specifically designed for two home games of the Vegas Golden Knights this week, against the New York Rangers and the San Jose Sharks. Fourteen antennas in the chevrons and four others at the level of the suite followed the evolution of the radio frequencies and transmitted the data after 46, where were watching leaders and representatives of the League and the associations of players, as well as representatives of 20 technology teams, betting companies and television rights holders. with a handful of journalists.
Tracking has been tested in previous all-star games and the 2016 Hockey World Cup. The latest tests have refined the logistics of using technology in meaningful games and have also shown how real-time statistics can be used on shows, in betting applications, as well as in the creation of virtual reality and augmented reality simulations.
"Technology gives us a chance to bring our fans closer to the game, allowing them to watch the game from different angles," said Commissioner Gary Bettman during the Golden Knights' fight against the Sharks. "And the possibilities are endless at a time when technology is evolving at a record pace."
Fans will have a first glimpse of the All-Star Weekend tracking system January 25-26 in San Jose, when NBC in the United States and Rogers in Canada will have access to the data to be used for their shows. If everything goes as planned, the full range of puck and player tracking will be in place to start next season.
The NHL and the AJLNH have been discussing puck and player tracking for several years and millions of dollars have been invested in the project. Players' concerns about tracking the data used against them have been sufficiently repressed to allow them to carry the microchips.
"I think the potential benefits far outweigh the disadvantages," said Mathieu Schneider, retired advocate and special assistant to the executive director of the AJLNH. "It's up to us to make sure we do what we can, not just for current guys, but for future guys. … I think the timing is good. "
The NHL owns the data but has to share it with the union. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated that the parties are on the same page and will be talking more about it during the next collective agreement. One of the conditions is that teams are not allowed to use player tracking data in wage arbitration.
"Who knows what will happen?" Said Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. "I think people like to see different stats, and the NHL is probably trying to give fans a little something like that, maybe it's affecting some guys, maybe not, I'm hoping that." will only improve the players, their skills and the way they play. "
The NHL will join the NFL as the only major North American sports league with players using tracking technology. The NBA and Major League Baseball use sophisticated systems that can include radar and cameras.
Jogmo World Corp. and the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have developed this particular system together with the NHL over the last three years. It took all this time to get things right; the rubber originally used for the washers did not work with the sensors. The system tracks a puck 2,000 times per second and players 200 times per second.
"Overall, hockey is the toughest sport we can think of because of the highest mechanics, the highest speed and the greatest impact," said Jogmo founder and CEO Martin. Bachmayer. "We had to change the recipe for the puck, the mixture of pucks to make it work. It was super difficult. "
The NHL will not say how much, but the new pucks are considerably more expensive than the frozen rubber varieties used for more than 100 years in hockey and that all fans who go home with a puck of one of the games in take a piece without knowing it. of history and a precious memory. The way referees treat them and how equipment managers treat microchips on epaulettes were the main elements of this week's tests. Adjustments will be made based on the reactions of players and officials before next season.
Beginning next season, broadcasters will be able to display data to the nearest second during matches, and at some point fans will be able to customize player and puck tracking statistics as they watch online. . The goal is to try to attract new viewers and give hardcore fans more things to argue.
"Casual gamers will use it as a way to understand how fast (hockey is)," said Steve McArdle, NHL executive director. "Everything they heard about hockey will come true with real-time, accurate data. The greedy, if they want to deepen the analysis that follows, is a rabbit terrier that can go as far as you want. "
It could also change the way the game is played. The teams already have their own proprietary data, and the influx of standardized numbers and information with extreme thumb accuracy will make the analysis even more advanced.
"They want more information, which really gives us an opportunity to make the clubs better and smarter," said Keith Wachtel, NHL Revenue Director.
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