As the NHL prepares for its all-star weekend from St. Louis, viewers watching the 3-on-3 action in Canada will be able to get a glimpse into the future.
Puck and player tracking is coming to the league soon, as the NHL works with SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT) on deploying these systems in all 31 NHL rinks by the 2020 playoffs. According to the league, “SMT’s OASIS Platform and infrastructure will ingest, aggregate, and distribute data from the puck and player tracking system, and will create innovative graphics and visualizations for NHL media partners and other stakeholders.”
Sportsnet will show some of these tools during Friday’s Skills Competition, but during Saturday’s All-Star Game a traditional broadcast will be offered on Sportsnet and CBC, while a special “NHL All-Star Stats Central” feed will air concurrently on SN1 and SN360. That will offer an enhanced broadcast with data and visuals from the NHL Puck and Player Tracking system.
What will it look like? Here’s a brief overview:
The first thing you might notice is the “L-Bar” similar to what shows on your screen during draft day coverage. Any number of analytics will be shown here. On the side, you may notice more traditional stats such as shots, faceoff wins and hits, but also get other information such as shot speed and offensive zone time. It can also offer such things as the game’s time on ice leader, goal leader, or even season-long stats.
At the bottom, you’ll be shown who is on the ice in real time, swapping in and out names on the fly as a new line hits the ice. The stats you’ll see here will change throughout and include a player’s shift length, ice time, or the distance they’ve skated on a shift or in the game.
Sensors in pucks and on players send signals to antennas in the rafters, creating millions of data points, which allows for other offers on the main screen. For instance, as players move on the rush or set up in the offensive zone, you may see a triangle extend out from the puck, showing the distance between each player and visualize passing lanes.
And as Shea Weber lines up a slap shot during the game, you may also get to see how hard he shoots it in real time.
The player tracking also allows us to identify any player with a “nameplate” on the screen and even display how fast they are moving at any given moment.
The NHL All-Star Stats Central broadcast on SN1 and SN360 can be seen starting at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, but also check in on the Skills Competition Friday night to get an earlier look at what puck and player tracking can offer.
Friday will also include the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game, pitting American All-Stars against the Canadian All-Stars in a 20-minute contest. This will also have puck and player tracking elements, and be the first time fans will see this application in a women’s hockey game.
Puck and player tracking data will enable the creation of new advanced metrics and statistics which will be presented via informative and compelling graphics and visualizations across a variety of NHL platforms. And if you watch this weekend, you’ll get a first look into what the future of NHL broadcasting may start to look like.