by SENShobo on 05/05/09 at 12:32 PM ET
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but word on the street, or out of the NHL’s head office at least, is that the National Hockey League has the most tech savvy fans of any major league sport.
I know it’s been two days now since Carolina evened their series in Boston, but yesterday’s cause was defending 5-on-5 overtime. Those who watched the game appeared to be treated to the Canes taking a 3-0 lead not once, but twice.
You can’t help but find a hint of something there between those two statements, whether you label it irony, contradiction, or just some kind of philosophical mismatch, and certainly one that needs attention.
There were only a couple seconds left in the period when Carolina’s Chad LaRose put a nifty puck behind Boston’s Tim Thomas. In case you missed it…
In the end, after long review, the original on ice call would stand, and the Canes would have to wait until the third to go up 3-0 in the game. Yes, it was the end of the second, and yes, Carolina had and successfully held onto the lead, but this just doesn’t go along with that ‘tech savvy’ image the NHL wants to promote. In any game, let alone when all the chips are on the post-season table, there should never be questions on matters this important. It’s not even all that rare for things to come down to such minute details, as this year’s Super Bowl came down to just such a call.
Even with the choppy quality of YouTube, without switching on the high quality video, I can still catch glimpses of Santonio Holmes shoelaces, let alone whether he properly dragged his feet on the back corner catch. If I was really desperate, I could probably fool around with the levels of the feed to find the exact outline of those same shoelaces to see if they were also in order on the play.
No bodies, no skates, no sticks, there was nothing at all to really obstruct the view of the puck, and yet the infamous video reviews couldn’t pick out the puck. This from the same League that proudly broadcasts in HD, showing me the sweat beading down every players’ face.
Should it really be so hard to get a few minor technical advances to work for us? Yes, there would be cost involved in getting a proper video setup in all 30 rinks over both nets, but it would not take too much to get as detailed a view as you could want. If they can catch the tiny glory of that cute duckling’s feathers on Disney Nature’s Earth (and they wouldn’t have been planted a foot from the action either), they can most definitely determine whether a puck of known size has crossed a plane of known location based on input from fixed cameras. Heck, they could use a few of them and create a 3D compilation to give you some really outstanding replays, but that’s above and beyond.
In this case, it’s the world’s oldest, most famous, and hardest trophy to earn that’s on the line every night, and that’s more than worth the cost. Had it been the last game of the season, and a similar goal could have put Florida into the playoffs rather than Montreal, do you think they or their fans (yes, there are fans of the Florida Panthers) would think it a small thing that the correct call could be made? To their fans, pride on the line, and indeed to the club those juicy, long-absent playoff revenues as well. If you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands on elaborate humidity controls to create better ice, you owe it to the game to be sure of what’s happening in that same sleek rink.
It was indeed these same Canes who knocked the outstanding New Jersey Devils out of the playoffs, one of their critical victories coming thanks to a goal with 0.2 seconds left. It was only two years ago that those same Devils scored with fractions of a second left against the Ottawa Senators, debate over time losses between whistle blows and digital time stops ensuring the goal stood. The momentum of that goal was perhaps exactly what allowed the Devils to hold onto their lone victory in that series, even as there should be little difficulty in coming up with a system integrated seamlessly with the referees whistles that ensures the clock stops when the referee intends it to, regardless of any delay in the blowing of the whistle or the current time stop that occurs immediately thereafter.
Is it mundane, minute, and a picking of nits? Perhaps that is how it seems today, but someday you just might find yourself on the wrong side of a situation that currently unused technologies like these and others may well have been able to prevent. The desire to take advantage and enjoy the fruits of technology shouldn’t just be on one side of the television (or computer) screen, after all.
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