Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) has equipped its arenas with data capture technology for the new season as part of what it claims is a world-first initiative.

The 2019-20 season of the ice hockey league commenced on Sunday, with the KHL claiming that the new technology will boost the fan experience, as well as provide an added tool for broadcast partners and the coaching staff of its 24 teams, which also include one club apiece in Latvia, Finland, Belarus, Kazakhstan and China.

Players’ jerseys will feature data gathering chips, while smart pucks will be utilised to deliver real-time data from KHL games. Sergey Dobrokhvalov, KHL vice-president for marketing and communications, told the League’s official website: “This technology can be used by anyone who is interested in the results, from TV companies and websites to scouts and bookmakers.

“The coaching staff of our teams will also be able to access the information. The world of sport is embracing AI technology and this solution offers advanced stats and analytics which can help coaches make the right decisions during every game.”

The new statistical information is being displayed on the media cubes at all KHL arenas. The League said there is potential to bring partners on board to help monetise the system. In addition, the KHL’s mobile app users can access enhanced levels of data about every game, and the performance of all players, in real time.

Dobrokhvalov added: “In any given game, we have a new range of stats based around the distance travelled on the ice. There’s a summary for each team, and a player-by-player break down. We can show the fastest speeds and the time on the ice. This information can be made available for a specific game, or for the whole season. As more games are played, more metrics can be added and visualised.

“The main audience is our fans. They will be able to see all of this in-depth analysis via the website, via the app and on our KHL-TV channel. And it all happens in real time, with no waiting to gather and collate information. During the games, the coaching staff will be able to access a special package giving them all this information.”

Image: KHL