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NHL ‘unsure’ if puck, player tracking system will be used in Stanley Cup Playoffs

The National Hockey League is “unsure” if its new puck and player tracking system will be used in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals should the 2019-20 season resume in the coming months, SportBusiness has been told.

The NHL remains on an indefinite hiatus due to the global Covid-19 pandemic but is making provisional arrangements to resume action soon, including potentially playing at four or five regional arenas across North America.

New puck and player tracking technology, 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 league further experimented with the system at the Honda NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, in January, with the aim of having the initiative ready in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But it is unclear if that is now possible due to various logistical reasons and the uncertain timetable ahead of a possible resumption in league activities.

“We don’t know. The fact that we aren’t really sure where are going to be playing games if they do happen would play a part because in order to have that system we would have to outfit the arena to make sure that all the data can be extracted from the ice,”  Chris Golier, NHL’s vice president of business development and innovation, told SportBusiness.

“That is obviously something that we’re talking about but I would not say that it’s one the forefront of our determination of what we are doing. We need to make sure of safety first, that the players and any staff working are in a good place to where we can get the games going. It’s a consideration – player and puck tracking is a go-forward strategy of ours, the enhanced data is something that we think the fans will really enjoy, the storytelling that comes from that with broadcasters. If we can pull it off, we certainly will,” Golier said.

To help fill the sports competition void, the NHL is this week debuting the esports “NHL Player Gaming Challenge”, which will include player representatives from all 31 NHL teams, as well as the Seattle expansion team.