NHL News & Notes: Player and Puck Tracking, Winter Classic & More

In today’s News & Notes, Gary Bettman has announced a new puck and player tracking system, the NHL has announced that the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators will face off in the 2020 Winter Classic and the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche will face off in the 2020 NHL Stadium Series.

NHL to Deploy Puck and Player Tracking System

The NHL is set to have some major innovations dominate the landscape in 2019-20 when they introduce a puck and player tracking system that will change the way the game is consumed and understood.

“The Puck and Player Tracking system can track pucks at a rate of 2,000 times per second in real-time with inch-level accuracy,” Commissioner Bettman said of the new system. “We’ll instantaneously detect passes, shots, and positioning precisely. It will be equally accurate in tracking players — their movement, speed, time on ice — you name it.”

Gary Bettman
Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, 2018 NHL Draft, Dallas, TX, June 22, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“Being on the forefront of innovation is good for our game, and most especially our fans.”

For Bettman and the NHL, it’s become clear that this type of information is something that fans want. Other sports leagues have already started implementing advanced data like this in their respective leagues such as the MLB, NFL and NBA.

“As a league, we have made significant investments to create new technology that quite literally didn’t exist,” Bettman said, “We think many of our fans — especially the innovation generations – – millennials and Gen Z — are going to love this new frontier.”

Predators and Stars to Play in 2020 Winter Classic

The Predators and the Stars are set to face off in the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl Stadium on Jan 1. This will be the first time that either the Stars or the Predators receive an outdoor game which is a nice surprise as the NHL has often had repeat teams playing in their outdoor showcases in recent years.

Nashville Predators Calle Jarnkrok Dallas Stars Tyler Seguin
Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok gets control of the puck after stealing it away from Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The Predators, though not quite the same team they were in 2017-18, are among the best teams in the entire NHL are have been a contender for a few seasons. Their inclusion in this game makes sense given how well they’ve played in recent years.

For the Stars, things haven’t gone quite as smoothly in recent years. Though the team has gone through a few rough patches this season both on and off the ice, they are currently in the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference and will have to play their best hockey from now until the end of the season if they want to make the postseason in a crowded playoff race.

Kings and Avalanche to Play in 2020 Stadium Series

Sticking with the theme of outdoor games, the NHL has also announced that the Kings and the Avalanche will play in the NHL Stadium Series at the United State Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado.

This is the second time that the Avalanche will be playing in an outdoor game as they also hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in Denver in the 2016 Stadium Series.

Gabriel Landeskog, Drew Doughty
Colorado Avalanche Gabriel Landeskog gets tangled up with Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

For the Kings, this is the third time they’ll be playing outdoors as hey previously played the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in the 2014 Stadium Series and then again against the San Jose Sharks at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California for the 2015 Stadium Series.

This is an interesting matchup given the fact that the Avalanche occupy the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference with 52 points but risk losing that spot (similarly to the Stars) to the Vancouver Canucks (52 points), Anaheim Ducks (51 points), Arizona Coyotes (50 points) St. Louis Blues (49 points) and even the Edmonton Oilers (49 points) who are all well within striking distance.

Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen
Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

When looking at the Kings, things don’t look any better. In fact, it’s significantly worse as the Kings have a 20-26-4 record, good for 44 points and sit just one point out of the last place in the entire NHL.

It’s hard to say how different both teams will look next season when this game takes place but it’s certainly not shaping up to be a battle of contenders at this point in time.