Hockey has a long history with similar sports existing in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Iran around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The Aztecs, Romans, and Greeks are also believed to have played a game similar to hockey, though the sport we know today began in England during the mid-18th century.
Since then, the way the sport is played, managed and watched has changed dramatically.
The most critical change was the creation of ice hockey, which appears to have first been played in Canada during the late 19th century. The first documented game took place in early March of 1875 between students of McGill University who played on an indoor ice rink.
It would take another 19 years for the creation of the Stanley Cup and 32 years for the NHL to be founded. Since then, technology has been changing the game of hockey and the NHL is radical ways.
Watching NHL Games
Today, turning the TV on to watch a live NHL game is second nature to most fans. Little thought is given to convenience this luxury affords. Before the 1950s and 1960s, the only way to watch a game would be to attend in person, meaning fans who lived a long distance away would struggle to see their team play very often.
Hockey was actually one of the first sports to be broadcast using technology, though it happened three decades before the invention of TV.
The 1896 Stanley Cup saw telegraph connections set up between stadiums. This allowed fans in Montreal to receive descriptions of the events happening in Winnipeg. In 1923, the first game was then broadcast over the radio.
Fans would have to wait until 1952 for an opportunity to watch a game on TV. Today, live HD broadcasts with multiple camera angles, close-ups, and on-screen graphics make it easier to follow along and understand what’s happening.
Other innovations over the years have included FoxTrax, a controversial AR system that created a glowing effect over the puck to make it easier for fans to see it on TV. While it was removed after the 1998 season, new on-screen graphics have recently found their way into TV broadcasts.
Betting on hockey games has been popular for about as long as it has been played. Betting on games once required you to head to a physical betting shop or casino to find the latest odds and place wagers.
Today, the internet has meant that fans can find live odds hockey from their computer, smartphone or tablet. This makes it much more convenient to bet on games since it can be done from home or at the rink.
As well as traditional wagering on the outcome of games and outright bets for competitions, the internet has made in-game betting more practical. This allows fans to make proposition (prop) bets like which player will be next to score or how many fouls will be made, as well as cash out a bet before the game has ended.
Coaching and Refereeing
It’s not just fans that get to benefit from live data and video feeds. A deal between Apple and the NHL has meant that coaches and referees have been given iPads that allow them to game footage, information about official decisions, and 60 live stats.
Coaches can use this data to help them understand the positioning and movements of their players better, allowing them to make informed decisions.
It helps coaches to keep track of how many minutes each player has been on the ice for, with alerts to let them know when they exceed a preset threshold. They can also get live data about face-off success, the number of shots made, and the success rate for each zone.
With all these technological advancements, hockey is a very different sport to the one first played by McGill University Students in 1875. Yet it remains just as fun and exciting.