Report: NHL to test SportVU-like tracking technologies beginning next season

Thomas Drance
Tom Szczerbowski / US PRESSWIRE

The National Hockey League, which is stuck in the stone age in terms of the reliability of its real-time statistical data collection, is poised to up their data-tracking game significantly in the very near future.

According to NHL COO John Collins, by way of the Globe & Mail's David Ebner, the NHL will begin experimenting with technology to assist in the collection of real-time data next season, with a view towards implementing a league-wide system for the beginning of the 2015-16 NHL campaign.

For the league it's not about the numbers, so much as the insights they may potentially provide about the league's member teams and star players. "It's about telling stories," Collins, who this year spearheaded the 'NHL Revealed' documentary series, told the Globe.

SportVU is among the options being considered by the league, according to Ebner's report. SportVU provided the NBA with a vast wealth of league-wide in-game data for the first time this season, only a portion of which is made public. More advancements, including GPS-type tracking devices being worn by individual players, are still being tested and developed. The ramifications of that data for the league's decision makers, and for basketball fans, has been astounding.

Currently there are nine shared NBA/NHL arenas, and when the New York Islanders relocate to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season, there will be ten. So nearly a third of NHL teams already have SportVU cameras installed in their respective home arenas.

Sportsvision, a sports technology company that provides superimposed ads on the end-boards and infamously engineered the FoxTrax 'glowing puck' in the late 90s, is also being considered.