Marc Antoine Godin from La Press spoke to Chief of NHL operations John Collins, who admitted that the NHL hopes to eventually place a chip on every player to be able to track their movement & actions accurately.
There are already player tracking features available for sports, including SportVu, however Collins explains that the system doesn't work all that well for an incredibly fast-moving sport like hockey.
"We worked with SportVu, we asked them to do some modifications to their basketball system, and we followed hockey games to see what type of results it would give" said Collins.
"Turns out the camera tracking is not perfect. When there's scrums in the corners or in front of the net the cameras couldn't individually identify the players."
What will this new tracking technology bring to the game? Collins explains.
"We believe it can bring a lot. Not only for training and coaching applications, but for the fans. It allows us to understand the game better. Also, it should make it easier for fans who never played hockey to understand why these guys are so talented, and what it takes to play the game."
I can foresee a plethora of advanced statistics (are we ready to just call them stats yet?) that could mined from this tracking system, which certainly excites a longtime hockey fan like myself. Collins is aware of the possible application for statistics.
"We use real time stats, however they are compiled manually. We want to update everything and make the numbers more accurate with the chips. We plan to have these numbers be shared by all the teams, who would be free to analyse them as they'd like in terms of training, coaching and everything else."
Of course, the NHL will have to get the green light from the NHLPA, however Collins expects that this shouldn't be a problem.
"We have already spent a lot of time with the NHLPA to make sure that the players are at ease, that they see things like we do, and that they become as enthusiastic about the new technology as we are."
While I don't expect them to implement this new tracking system any time soon, it's an exciting and predictable step in the betterment of sports statistics and analysis. Considering SportVu isn't an accurate option for the NHL, this new chip system may end up being the ultimate tracking tool for hockey.