Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Going Upstairs

For all the progression we’ve seen in the NHL in the past few years, there is still, in my opinion, one aspect of the game that could do with an upgrade – video review.

There’s one problem with the current video review system, and the word “inconclusive” pretty much sums it up.

A quick YouTube search reveals plenty of examples of a goalie’s body blocking the camera, a goalie’s glove smothering the puck on (or over) the line, or the “war room” simply not seeing enough camera angles to tell for sure whether a goal has been scored.

And I think I might have the answer.

I recently spoke with Christian Holzer of Cairos Technology, a Germany company that has developed a form of goal-line technology for soccer, about crossover potential into hockey.

Here’s how it works:

Thin cables are installed underneath the playing surface, which generate a low magnetic field, and there’s a sensor in the ball (or puck) that sends a signal to receivers when the ball (or puck) crosses the goal line. At that point, the referee is notified by a signal on his watch that a goal has been scored – all in a split second.

“The system is measuring position, it doesn’t care in which product it is integrated, so it works in ice – that’s not an issue,” Holzer says. “The housing can be a soccer ball, it can be an American football, it can be a puck – it doesn’t care.”

“We can implement it into hockey, that’s not an issue. If you know somebody who can help us there, we are more than happy to talk to them!”

As for cost, Holzer says it’s not a big investment for a sports federation to bring this technology into their game.

“The business model we suggested was that we are charging the federation with 25% of their average referee costs per game for using the system. That includes everything – services, installation, hardware maintenance, software and so on.”

While I applaud the NHL for being as open to change as it has been, after speaking with Mr. Holzer I feel this is something the league should at least take a look at.

I’ve done some research into all of the goal-line technologies available right now and this is the only one that seemingly eliminates the problem of not getting the right camera angle, or not knowing where the puck is. To me, it’s a problem that creeps up frequently enough that if there is a solution, the NHL should act on it.

Oh, and don’t worry – there’s no glowing streak that follows the puck around. In fact, Holzer says no one is even really aware that the system is being used.

What do you think – should the NHL look into this form of goal-line technology, or leave the current system alone?

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