Puck and player tracking taking big strides forward in NHL

Apr 27, 2022, 2:30 AM | Updated: 2:47 pm
NHL senior director of coaching and general manager of technology Brant Berglund demonstrates the l...

NHL senior director of coaching and general manager of technology Brant Berglund demonstrates the latest advances in puck and player tracking at a tech showcase before an NHL hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils,Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Newark, N.J. Some data from the NHL’s puck and player tracking system is expected to be publicly available during the upcoming playoffs, and that’s just the start of some of the technological twists that are coming to hockey arenas and broadcasts sooner than later. Custom camera angles and replays for fans at their seats and virtual and augmented reality are among the advancements the league is working on. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

When Buffalo rookie Owen Power scored his first NHL goal, the replay from five different angles was available in a matter of seconds in a private suite at Prudential Center as the team celebrated below. A few doors down, donning a headset puts you virtually on the ice with a set of cartoon characters reenacting the play.

More than three years since puck and player tracking was first tested by the NHL, the technology has grown by leaps and bounds to give coaches just about every piece of information they would want during and after a game. 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 that data, too.

“We’re going to be putting more puck and player tracking data on our website in the near future, so fans will have access to it for the first time,” NHL senior director of coaching and GM applications Brant Berglund said at the league’s latest tech showcase during a game between Buffalo and New Jersey. “It will be there next season and possibly even as early as the playoffs this season for some of it.”

Showing how hard someone shoots the puck — and how oftena player breaks 20 mph — is just the start of the array of futuristic technologies coming to a hockey arena near you. The next wave includes real-time video and instant replays available for fans on their phones and steps toward augmented and virtual reality.

Coaches already have access to the full complement of 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 tiny circles with their numbers on them and everything from average and max speed to when an opponent is most likely to pull the goalie when trailing by a certain number of goals.

Television broadcasters could be next to get an app like that to illustrate trends, with fans eventually getting their hands on all the data, more than has ever been available before.

“You can spend a lot of time and get great information about what’s going on in the game,” NHL chief technology officer Peter DelGiacco said. “We think the opportunity that we have in the next couple years with taking all this data and creating insights and making the game a lot more relevant with better stories and be a lot more entertaining for all fans — not just the hardcore people. It’ll also give better insights that you didn’t really know.”

It’s not just hockey nerds who might enjoy heat maps of shots or live speed data. Executive VP of business development and innovation Dave Lehanski said fans at arenas want replays available more than anything else.

The good news on that front is 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 in attendance can pause and rewind the game and see it from multiple angles.

“We really want to personalize the experience,” Verizon director of sports partnerships and innovation Eric Nagy said. “We’re there. This is something we’re pushing now.”

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

Down the line is virtual reality that can take anyone inside the game and on the ice in a 3D world that could look realistic or more like a cartoon world. Strap on a headset and you can see a model of the game from defenseman P.K. Subban’s point of view.

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

Lehanski said combining the puck and player tracking system, 5G networks in every arena and the cloud is building the infrastructure that could make for tons of real-life applications when more advanced glasses and other things 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, no matter where you are, including at the game, gives you whatever it is you want and brings you inside the game in ways that people never imagined,” Bettman said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”


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


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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka toast each other...
Associated Press

Japanese leader’s trip to China in ’72 was diplomatic gamble

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese leader who normalized relations with China 50 years ago feared for his life when he flew to Beijing for the high-stakes negotiations at the height of the Cold War, according to his daughter, a former Japanese foreign minister. Kakuei Tanaka’s mission to normalize relations with China just two months after […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Ex...
Associated Press

Musk faces deposition with Twitter ahead of October trial

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk is scheduled to spend the next few days with lawyers for Twitter, answering questions ahead of an October trial that will determine whether he must carry through with his $44 billion agreement to acquire the social platform after attempting to back out of the deal. The deposition, […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Gov. Phil Bryant speaks about his legacy following a life of public service, Jan. 8, 2020, i...
Associated Press

Texts: Favre also sought welfare money for football facility

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — After Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on Brett Favre’s pet project, a university volleyball arena, the retired NFL quarterback tried two years later to get additional cash from the state’s welfare agency for another sports facility, new court documents show. The governor at the time, Republican Phil Bryant, […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Man arrested in California plotted mass shooting

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — A 37-year-old man was arrested Sunday in Northern California on suspicion of threatening to kill police officers and planning a “Las Vegas-style” mass shooting, authorities said. The suspect was taken into custody by SWAT officers at a Super 8 motel in Chico after detectives obtained evidence of his plot, according to […]
19 hours ago
A sedan is wedged between a small, black pickup truck and the Bagel Time Cafe in Wildwood, N.J., ea...
Associated Press

Official: 2 killed amid crashes during pop-up NJ car rally

WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — A pop-up car rally over the weekend in southern New Jersey led to multiple crashes and the deaths of at least two people riding in a golf cart, officials say. Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron told NJ Advance Media on Sunday that there were a series of car crashes related to the […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Little evidence of political argument before teen’s death

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — There is little indication that an 18-year-old who died after being struck by an SUV in North Dakota was a political extremist like the driver claimed. Investigators say none of the witnesses they have interviewed support the idea that there was a political argument before authorities say Shannon Brandt struck Cayler […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Puck and player tracking taking big strides forward in NHL