The era of advanced statistics may truly be upon hockey fans. The NHL will be placing player-tracking chips inside the sweater of each player competing in the skills competition and the All-Star Game. The chip will record how fast a player skates, how far they’ve traveled, where they’re positioned and several other statistics which can then be used to create some advanced stats, charts and graphs. The league will also place a chip in the puck to track speed and movement.
The report, as seen on Sportsnet.ca, details that the chips were tested in a junior game and that the NHL is hoping that if their test during the All-Star Game is a success, we may see this technology league-wide as soon as next season. The NHL hasn’t received permission from the NHLPA to make this change, but we doubt it will meet much resistance unless the chips are bulkier than we’re all picturing or if it has a noticeable change on the puck.
Though it’s impossible not to think of the glowing puck disaster when you hear about a chip being placed in the puck, this is an extremely exciting development by the NHL. While fans have access to advanced stats such as zone starts and countless others (though there is a learning curve), the chips would offer precise analysis which would hopefully be presented in an understandable fashion for casual viewers. That challenge may rest on the shoulders of the broadcast team, but we’d hope that they’d make full use of the plethora of information they’re receiving and not water it down to simply Player A skates fast and Player B shoots hard. Let’s discuss where Player C spends most of his time on the ice with and without the puck and analyze why it’s positive or negative for his game.
Long story short, you can never have too many stats. Let’s hope this new technology signals a change both in televised games and on the league’s website. Bring on the heat maps and the crazy detailed statistics hockey fans drool over!