When Major League Baseball began its 2019 postseason, there were rumors that the league introduced new baseballs. Not just out of the box new, but a new “non-juiced” ball. However, MLB claimed the balls were the same as the balls used in the regular season. Well, the National Hockey League decided they won’t be hiding anything from the public, and admitted that the pucks used in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs will be different.
The #NHL is introducing a new puck containing sensitive electronic equipment for the opening night of the #StanleyCup Playoffs – after playing the majority of the regular season with a traditional one.
What could possibly go wrong?
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 4, 2020
The new playoff pucks are made from the same material as the puck used today in NHL arenas. The only difference is the new rubber biscuits will have six sensors built-in to begin the future of player/puck tracking.
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… Key players have been playing with it during practices and the feedback has been minimal. -Steve McArdle, NHL’s vice-president of digital media and strategic planning
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was in Boca Raton, FL for the GM meetings and attended the league’s presentation about their plan to launch the new tracking puck in the first round of the playoffs. LeBrun reported the NHL is highly confident that the puck will not impact the postseason, and it’s possible the players won’t even notice.
They’ve done a ton of testing. The league is extremely confident that the puck they’ve tested there will be no difference. In fact it’s been used and Bettman said today that 24 games this year without teams even knowing. There was no feedback.- Pierre LeBrun
TSN’s Frank Seravalli questioned the league’s decision to christen the hi-tech puck in the postseason. After all, it is the playoffs and there’s a lot on the line.
With that comes a fear for the new puck’s integrity that will probably keep NHL executives awake at night.
Imagine a scenario in which the new puck explodes into three pieces after ricocheting off the crossbar on a scoring play in the Stanley Cup Final.
-Frank Seravalli, TSN
LeBrun furthered Seravalli’s concerns.
Kind of risky, if you think about it. This new puck, essentially the most essential part of the game of hockey is being dropped for the first time in a playoff game.-Pierre LeBrun
Based on their own tests, the NHL is highly confident nothing will go wrong with the new puck. So fans shouldn’t worry about pucks smashing, or shorting out on the ice.
We haven’t been able to break this one yet. We shot it 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 high enough. -Keith Horstman, the NHL’s vice-president of information technology
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. -McArdle
From the league’s standpoint, there’s nothing to sweat this postseason. In fact, the NHL claims it will enhance the fan experience. But what about the players?
Feedback has been minimal… 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.-McArdle
Sounds good, but it’s not fully true. As Seravalli notes, the league’s most recognized player was a bit precarious after testing the new puck.
The new tracking puck may perform like a traditional puck, but does it look and feel like one of the old pucks?
The NHL put the pucks in the hands of top players around the league to use in practice. While there were no complaints, sources indicated Sidney Crosby was quick to notice that, for example, the edges of the puck felt different. There have also been comments about the weight and feel (hardness) of the puck from players. -Frank Seravalli, TSN
While the intentions are for the best, there’s still a bit of fear. A chipped edge or one shattered shot could possibly impact the outcome of a game or series. It’s a small possibility but Golden Knights fans do not need more interference from the league after last year’s Game 7 debacle.