According to a report from NHL insider Eric Francis of Sportsnet, the NHL will introduce new pucks equipped with “player tracking technology” during the Stanley Cup Playoffs next month.
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The new puck reportedly has the same weight, heft and feel as a “regular” puck.
“This was an important thing for us over the past months and years, making sure that the puck performs the way we expect it to in real-time situations,” Steve McArdle, the NHL’s executive vice-president of digital media and strategic planning, said during a media briefing on Tuesday.
The league has conducted hundreds of tests on the new pucks, including shooting it out of a “puck cannon” and reviewing the after effects.
“We haven’t been able to break this one yet,” said Keith Horstman, the NHL’s vice-president of information technology. “We shot it [at] 170 mph, 20 times, and it didn’t beak, it didn’t deform.
“We’ve been trying to get them to tell us what the break point is and they can’t get the gun [to fire] high enough.”
McArdle said: “No cracking, no breaking. The rubber held up. No damage to the puck. We hit the corner of the puck on the crossbar to test various points of potential failure.”
Interestingly enough, the new puck has quietly been tested in nine NHL games in nine different buildings over the past month. Testing will continue in 11 more contests this month, including a March 19 game in Toronto that is planned to “showcase” the latest technology on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ broadcast.
“Feedback has been minimal,” McArdle said. “We have not heard – in live-game situations – complaints about the performance of the puck. In fact, we’ve heard very little coming out of a lot of game experiences. So we’re happy about that.”
“Our partners have been trying to make sure that this thing looks and feels and performs as close to the real thing we have today as possible,” McArdle said. “Key players have been playing with it during practices and the feedback has been minimal.”
The new pucks are significantly more expensive to produce, so don’t expect to pick up a bucket of these at Canadian Tire anytime soon. It’s believed that each puck costs $100 to produce. The pucks transmit data 60 times per second and include data like location, speed, acceleration and deceleration and distance travelled. That information, along with tracking data gathered from tagging devices worn by players, will be displayed on broadcasts during playoffs.