NHL to Start Using Tracking Chips in Pucks and Jerseys

The tracking of advanced statistics in the NHL might become a lot easier.

The league announced Saturday, a partnership with the company Sportvision with the intention to place tracking chips in pucks and players jerseys. The hope is that the chips, along with a series of infrared cameras, will help to read the data from the chips. So far a date of when the NHL will start using the technology has not been set.

What the Chips Will Do

The hope is that the chips will be able to track the speed of players, the puck, and the location of both as well. So in terms, the chips will be able to track zone entries and exits and can be very useful in tracking advanced stats like Corsi and Fenwick.

Hanks Adams, the CEO of Sportvision, also suggests that the technology will also be able to track things such as length of shifts, formations on the ice (such as power play and penalty killing positons), and will be able to track which players face off against each other and so forth.

The hope is the new technology will also help broadcasters by giving more information. (February 8, 2008 - Source: Bruce Bennett/None)
The hope is the new technology will also help broadcasters by giving more information. (February 8, 2008 – Source: Bruce Bennett/None)

Sportvision is the same company responsible for implementing the first-down line in football and the strike zone in baseball on TV telecasts. The chips are expected to help with the storytelling of broadcasters during the game and providing a wider context of events during the game for fans.

A Huge Tool For Advanced Stats

Above all, the chips should be welcomed with open arms for those in high regard of advanced stats. The new age of judging players has become the biggest and hottest trend in recent years. Possession stats have become one of the best predictors of successful teams and players.

The debate over the usefulness of advanced stats is an ever-growing one, seemingly pinning the new school versus the old-school thinkers. Some suggest advanced stats such as Corsi and Fenwick don’t accurately tell the story of a hockey game given the speed and quick-time events that occur. But in the end it is more information as one likes and knowledge is power, right?

Not a New Idea

The idea of implementing these types of chips to track these types of stats is nothing new. There were rumours at the beginning of the season that the New York Rangers might adopt the chips to put in their jerseys so that they could track these stats themselves. Ultimately, that never happened, but the fact that it might have been considered at least suggests that this type of information is appealing to teams.

The chips were used during Saturday’s night’s skills competition and will be used during the All-Star game Sunday evening.  The NHL and Sportvision will continue talks as to how exactly the technology will be introduced, but early on the league seems in favour of the information it can help to provide. Advanced stats have become big storytelling tools in recent years and it looks like the league with the help of Sportvision is about to start a new chapter.