Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some random thoughts about hockey and technology...

During the playoffs the amount of hockey watching always increases in our home.  This season it is nearly 24/7.   The Los Angeles Kings are in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 19 years and my husband is enjoying every minute of it-- some of those minutes more than once.    I've never seen so many classics,  replays, documentaries, interviews, commentary, analysis, pregame, game game, post game you name it....I've seen it.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were watching the 1993 Western Conference Finals and I was amazed at how many differences I could easily, and quickly identify.    The players were sporting their mullets, and handlebar mustaches.  They were not protecting their heads or faces with helmets and shields.     The boards were shorter, and there were no protective netting to protect the fans.   The goalies were not limited to the trapezoid, and had very little padding. It was fun to look back but it really got me thinking about how hockey had changed in the last 20 years, and how technology may have helped shape those changes.

For the players their equipment, and safety has been impacted by technology.  Equipment today is meant to make the players move quicker with more precision. It also provides more protection for the players. Sports medicine has improved greatly.  The trainers are able to "patch up" players much quicker and get them back out on the ice.  They know more about head injuries and  how to treat them, they have even changed some of the rules on hits to help reduce these types of injuries.   They are able to perform microscopic surgery to repair injuries that were once career ending and have the players back on the ice within months.    

The players, and coaches have both benefited from advances with film, and video.    They are able to slow down the video to study every moment.   They even created a study on the "science of a slap shot".     These videos of the games, practices, and players have been crucial to studying and training to take their play to the next level.

A lot has changed for the fans as well.    Tickets to games can be purchased online (no more waiting at the box office)   The stadium has been enhanced for a better fan experience.  There are giant HD jumbo trans , surround sound and animated score boards.   There are advertisements and promos during the TV breaks and intermissions to keep the fans excitement up.      There are ways for the fans to stay engaged with the sport after the game or season has ended through fantasy sports teams, video games that  have real life players and statistics of those players.    Fans are even able to stay engaged with their team through various media outlets.

For the media they are able to take advantage of of Internet and wireless devices to be the first to report, respond or comment.   Their coverage takes form in radio, TV, podcasts, blogs, and social media.   There are apps such as NHL Game Center, ESPN Scorecenter, and The Hockey news.  These apps send real time alerts, even show shot marks if you have to watch from your phone.   Media, and fans are able to interact with players through Facebook, and Twitter.  A few days ago I even noticed that NHL has a Pinterest  page and has been partnering with Draw Something for hockey related terms.   I've read that the drawings may even be used in NHL advertising.  It is amazing how technology lets fans connect to the game,  their teams and favorite players.

As technology innovations continue to evolve so will the game of hockey, and the fans experience.

Game no 2 is today!  Go Kings!!!!