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NHL confident puck, player tracking system will be ‘big win’ for league

The National Hockey League is “bullish” about the potential impact its new puck and player tracking system will have in regards to sports betting and fan engagement, according to NHL executive Chris Golier.

The puck and player tracking technology, being created in partnership with real-time scoring system provider SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT), is designed to aid the league’s broadcast partners by providing new and more accurate player data and stats. It will also aid legalized betting on NHL games, with its ability to provide data for prop bets.

The initiative will be further experimented with at the Honda NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, on January 25, 2020, with the aim to have it ready in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“We are bullish on it,” Golier, NHL’s vice president of business development and global partnerships, said at the SVG Summit in Manhattan on December 16. “We don’t natural have breaks in the game so player and puck tracking lends itself to in-game bets such as: who is going to hit the fastest slapshot? who is going to be skating the longest? But it is going to take a little bit of time [to resonate with fans] as these are new stats that people haven’t seen before…but we think…it will be a big win for us for sure.”

In order to ensure the durability of the new pucks, which will contain sensors to detect their movements and speeds, they are literally being shot out of specialized cannons at 150mph to test their strength. “The worst thing in the world is if in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals [the puck] explodes and you see pieces of technology over the ice,” Golier added.

The NHL has gone all-in on legalized sports betting, with recent commercial partnerships with MGM Resorts International, FanDuel and William Hill.

“Gambling is a really big opportunity for the league,” Golier said. “We want more people to watch more games, we want more people to attend more games, we want more people to stay longer when they are [there]. We know with time commitments, and with more entertainment properties that exist, we have to compete. We are competing with Netflix. We think gambling shows a lot of promise in that people who may not have a rooting interest in a particular team may now watch because they have money riding on it.”