John Collins, the COO of the NHL, spoke at the NeuLion Sports Media & Technology Conference on Thursday and left some jaws agape with news about NHL jersey sponsorship, the Olympics and the return of a rather infamous gimmick:
The Glow Puck.
The league held an “Innovation Day” on Oct. 27 at SAP Center in San Jose that featured demonstrations of new technology for league officials, rights holders, sponsors and club execs. One idea presented was a project with SportVision to reintroduce the “Fox glowing puck,” a feature used in the '90’s to highlight the puck’s location and speed during broadcasts. Collins said there is a big push to more properly create an accurate digital record of the action on the ice through technology and tracking akin to what has been done in baseball, and that the player’s union has been supportive of ideas for that.
Deep breaths, people.
OK, now, there’s some important context to share here, from a SBD report on Oct. 27:
One long-term goal is putting chips on players to measure everything from speed and distances, player combinations, possibly even baseline data for head trauma and other health issues. "We’re a ways from implementing any of this," said Collins, noting it would likely take collective bargaining before any sort of electronics could be implanted within uniforms. Collins: "But there’s a data imperative across business and sports and we’d like to see if it could enhance our broadcasts with something like this, which would help us tell better stories about our athletes." Another thing being experimented with is placing a chip inside a puck to track speed and trajectory, reminiscent of the glowing FoxTrax puck used by Fox when it had NHL broadcast rights in the mid to late '90s.
Sounds like the NHL wants to use that technology to collect data from the puck, whether it’s velocity or to retrace a puck’s movement on the play.
Or, more to the point: It sounds like it’s more about opening up the game with that information on a broadcast, rather than making it a pulsating blue dot with a red comet tail.
Because – spoiler warning – that was one of the worst ideas in sports history …
But to be open-minded about it: CGI tech has increased slightly since FoxTrax was introduced in 1997. Maybe they've figured out how to track the puck in a way that isn't so garrish. Or maybe we don't need something to tracks the puck in 2014, thanks to HD technology.
Either way... can they use that chip to FINALLY tell us if the puck completely crossed the line?