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Report: NHL planning to test new info-gathering technology

May 12, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT

Interesting piece here by the Globe and Mail’s David Ebner, about the NHL’s plans to “test new technology to track players in action and produce a vast new array of information.”

According to the story, the league intends to start testing technologies next fall, with a new league-wide system possibly in place for 2015-16. To help, the NHL could partner with a company like STATS, which produces a software called SportVU.

Following is a Grantland video (link) about SportVU and the work it does for the NBA:

As we wrote last month, hockey has been a relative late-comer to the revolution in sports analytics. Baseball was the trailblazer, and it’s a big part of basketball now as well.

If a new system is indeed installed by the NHL, the challenge for teams, media and fans will be to cut through the noise and apply the info in a useful manner, and without getting overloaded by the “vast new array of information.”

  1. patthehockeyfan - May 12, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    This is really interesting stuff. Get ready, Jason, for the usual bombardment of complaints from the usual “bastion of puck-heads stubbornly frozen in a low-tech age.” (quoted from the linked story)

    While the information could be overwhelming, I can’t see how having this information could hurt.

    • drewsylvania - May 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      It’ll hurt analysts’ heads, that’s for sure.

    • runhigh24 - May 12, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      “Watch the game!” they’ll be yelling,ignorant to the fact that cameras are actually watching the game and unbiasedly compiling information.

    • imleftcoast - May 12, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      Watching the NFL draft, there are still QBs drafted for being tall. No matter how many Ryan Leafs get drafted, ‘gut’ intuition is going to rule for undisciplined teams – not the Seahawks, but the Vikings.

  2. comeonnowguys - May 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    I would love to see more Corsi and Fenwick info during the game on screen.

    And please stop showing us hits. Dear lord.

    • dagrit5 - May 12, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      People don’t understand sarcasm?

  3. blomfeld - May 12, 2014 at 3:36 PM


    And what a ‘total’ waste of money eh ? The bottom line is that if the NHL has any brains then they’ll simply hire our very own ‘Joey’ here at PHT for all of their ‘analytical & statistical’ needs. Our Joey has proven ‘time and time’ again beyond doubt that he ‘knows’ hockey, that he ‘knows’ people and that he ‘knows’ what makes it all work ! Many of Joey’s cutting-edge skills & techniques are ‘avant-garde’ to say the least, including his skill of utilizing ‘forensic self-testimonial evidence’ when arguing a case or making a point in debate.

    My name is Blomfeld and I support the NHL hiring Joey as their new technology czar ! :)

    • joey4id - May 12, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      hahahaha! Too funny! If not the league, then maybe a team. You never know what the future holds. Eh! 😉

  4. muckleflugga - May 12, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    it’s not all that surprising the nhl is late to the table, look at the design of rinks and fixtures around rinks … aside from minor technological adjustments, players are still getting destroyed by game equipment design sixty years old and older

    as for data, all the data in the world is meaningless without tools to bend it to practical purpose … if anyone makes money from these changes, it’ll be software designers who can sort wheat from chaff … a monumental task, given variables as they evolve in-game

    as for those who dismiss slavish attention to statistics, they’ve likely discovered how meaningless statistics are as lagging indicators always tend to be … but what should beat the statistics-lovers over the head with their own stupidity is one fact

    everyone adapting to technological change suggested by this article and finding benefit, will be joined immediately by their competitors and opponents, using the same tools and methodology … manufacturers of hardware and software are in the game to make money, and are not likely to sell to the highest bidder exclusively

    this while understanding most professional leagues demand an even playing field for all as it pertains to technology

    good luck predicting outcomes in the moment if your opponent is reading, interpreting, and reacting to the same data sets … what you’ll be left with using new technologies is the same chess match as it occurs in the present, using spotters and using experience

    artificial intelligence is great, but until you can impart to computers extra sensory perception or emotion or will, much of what drives decisions in-game in the past and present remains beyond machines

    look at this to get an idea of difficulties ahead

  5. pitpenguinsrulez - May 12, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    So now we need a ton of stats like MLB? I really could careless about Fenwick & Corsi numbers. In my opinion “Adanced Stats” are for geeks & the fantasy nerds like those shown on ESPN.

    • comeonnowguys - May 12, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      Or for people who want who want better data.

      Example: 2014 Colorado Avalanche.

  6. nothanksimdriving123 - May 12, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    We desperately need lots of new statistical tools, because right now, I have no way of knowing whether Mario Lemieux was a better player than Joffrey Lupul.

    • shaundre93 - May 12, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      I’d say a better example would be Bergeron vs Ovechkin. Standard stats would say Ovie is the better player but I’m willing to bet advanced stats would prove quite the contrary.

  7. parasolmonster - May 12, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    All of the stats and analytics that these new systems gather will reach one and one conclusion only:

    The glowing puck shall never return.

    • iwt5007 - May 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Hahaha that might be one the of truer statements ever made on this site….R.I.P. Fox’s Glowing Puck

  8. ballistictrajectory - May 12, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    I suppose it all depends on the stats collected…

    [Studio Analyst]: “The insert team name are 0 for 5 on the power play when popcorn sales are below the season average.”

  9. joey4id - May 12, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Flyers be one of the first organizations in the NHL to make the shift to info-gathering technology.

  10. cliffatola - May 13, 2014 at 12:33 AM

    Brian Burke said it best ” Stats are like a lamp post to a drunk, great for support but not much on illumination”.

    • patthehockeyfan - May 13, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      Ha-Ha! Burke knows from whence he speaks. 😉

      • parasolmonster - May 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        You tell em, Blomfeld! 😉

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