Throughout the 2016 World Cup, the focus has been on whether or not the tournament is a gimmick (it is), if it’s entertaining (it definitely is), and what type of conclusions we can draw in respects to the NHL’s regular season (almost none).
However, the most interesting aspect of the tournament has certainly been the use of a fantastic angle that gives hockey fans a glimpse of how it feels to be on the ice with the world’s best. That’s right, I’m talking of course about the camera that has been added to the referee’s helmets.
When it comes to production value, the NHL lags behind most other pro sports leagues, however the ref cam can close the gap.
One of the biggest struggles when explaining to someone how fast and exhilarating the NHL experience can be, is how it translates to TV. Truth be told, hockey comes off as a rather slow sport when it’s televised compared to witnessing it live.
Enter the ref cam.
Here’s what Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews look like when barreling towards you during a scoring chance. It’s a beautiful sight.
It also gives you a clearer view of a lot of intricacies that are lost during regular broadcasts, like loose pucks, scrums, and broken sticks.
Not to mention you get a closer look at how some of the interactions between players and referees take place.
Warning: Missing teeth ahead
And if an angry Alex Ovechkin isn’t what you’re looking for, can I interest you in an amazing view of Sidney Crosby stripping the puck and scoring a beautiful goal?
Or perhaps a great angle of a beautiful save followed by nice display of hand-eye coordination?
Or maybe you’re looking for the best seat in the house to watch a massive bodycheck.
Sure, you could watch Johnny Gaudreau tip a puck from any angle, but only from the ref cam can we truly appreciate the skill level involved. For the record, Gaudreau tipped the puck whilst spinning in mid-air.
Let’s slow that play down to get a better view:
And while some may be quick to point out it’s not the most stable view available, and they’re right, the ref cam offers an angle that many of us have been pining for every time we try to explain the speed, skill, and toughness involved in every hockey game.
The NHL absolutely has to keep this angle available throughout the 2016-17 season and beyond. It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a change in rules, it’s simply giving fans something they crave: the ability to feel like they’re on the ice with their favourite players. I wouldn’t be surprised if many fans watched the entire game through this one angle.
Essentially, it’s a perfect way for fans to connect, dissect, and enjoy one of the best sports on earth, and it would be crazy of the NHL to do away with it. They desperately need to up their production value, and the ref cam is the ideal way to start.