Photo: Andy Mettler

Spengler Cup just became the smartest hockey tournament!

Davos – 2016 Spengler Cup is about to start on Boxing day and it brings more innovation to the world of hockey than ever! The oldest club tournament in the world decided to implement new rules to follow the trends. The biggest change were inclusions of “coaches challenge” and a change to the new 3-on-3 overtime model.

New “Coach’s Challenge”

In such a high-speed sport, the option of video reviews is widely accepted amongst the players. This season the NHL has decided to expand the video review. Coaches now have a “coach’s challenge”. This challenge leads to a video review and is limited to the following two scenarios:

•    An offside play leads to a goal
•    Interference on the goalkeeper

A coach’s challenge is only possible, if the timeout has not been used yet. If the coach’s challenge is successful, the coach retains the option to challenge again. If the call is not reversed, the coach will not receive another chance to review a play and loses his timeout.

3-on-3 overtime

One of the most exciting rule changes going into the current NHL season was the switch to an overtime format with only 3 skaters per team on the ice, rather than 4. Besides spectacular plays, the change has led to most games being decided before a possible shootout.
The expectations towards this new rule have been exceeded. While during 2014/15 NHL regular season – with 4-on-4 play – around 45 percent of the games were decided in overtime, the rate jumped to over 70 percent in the current season. This rule will also be applied to next year’s NLA regular season.

Smart chips inside player’s jerseys

Advanced technology is slowly creeping into the world of hockey as well. Previous years we could see the cameras on referees, mic’ed up players and the use of smart phones and tablets for advanced stats tracking.

Corsi and Fenwick are two models that use the advanced stats such as zone starts, faceoffs, TOI and shots, plus and minus, shot positions and so on.

The 2016 Spengler Cup edition will have players wearing special “smart” jerseys. Each player jersey will hold a smart chip that will track player’s time on ice, speed and movement, and shot positionsmart chip u dresus with plus and minus tracking. Some of these stats required people to manually track players and note their positions, time on ice and whether they were on ice while the goal was scored or not. It will be interesting to see how the stats are used and how can we implement the tracking into the advanced stats and our understanding of the modern game of hockey.

The smart chips in sports aren’t new, they’ve been used in football (miCoach, Nike chips etc) in boots, in motor sports, and various other sports. Using these in hockey could prove a little bit harder as due to an inside rink GPS signal is harder to acquire. The Spengler Cup will have the rink wired with 12 antennas. With quite a few games in the following week in a single rink, this will be the perfect time to test the system.

Implementing smart technology with hockey software like Hockey Coach Vision could directly use the stats, help coaches and players understand the drills, how their body works on ice and teach them how to be a better players and coaches.


Photo: Andy Mettler