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The NHL is planning on testing Sportvision, a player tracking technology, during the All-Star Game on Jan. 24 in Columbus. The technology is said to be able to track how fast and how far players have skated, measure shot speed, and much more.
According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the NHL’s All-Star Game in Columbus on Jan. 25 could be the first glimpse of the technology that would make all this information available and standardize the way we measure on-ice contributions.
The Sportvision technology, which Johnston reports was used prior to the season in San Jose in a game that featured junior players and former Sharks, works through the use of a chip placed into the sweaters of the players and the puck. Effectively, what the system does is replace the need for in-house stat trackers, making all the data that would normally be available via these the statisticians obtainable instead through the chip.
A similar technology has been used in other major sports, including football, basketball, and even golf. The roots of the technology actually began in hockey, also at an All-Star Game.
The 1996 contest featured the first ever “glowpuck,” the infamous and much-maligned invention by Fox Sports, known as the FoxTrax puck. With the technology in the pucks, fans could visualize the path and speed of the puck. In a sense, it looked more like watching a video game than watching actual hockey. Many NHL teams currently use a separate technology provided by SportVision to place advertisements on the glass. For those watching at home, the ads appear around the plexiglass, often times behind the goals, while in-arena they’re nowhere to be seen.
In the Sept. 15 issue of The Hockey News, Ryan Kennedy wrote about similar technologies, including SportVu which is used in the NBA, and how they could render our current advanced stats – things like Corsi and Fenwick – obsolete by being able to show just how long a player had the puck, giving a truer measure of puck possession on both a team and individual basis.
It’s yet to be seen whether the NHL will adopt the technology on a full-time basis, but its inclusion in the All-Star Game is certainly a step in the right direction.