Today, we wrap up the trio of posts on enhancing your experience as a fan of the NHL. JJ brought you a piece on high definition broadcasts and Graham wrote up a piece on fan/player interaction. I'm going to try my hand at it today with a suggestion as to something that I think would help enhance the fan experience.
There's no doubt about it, we thrive on visual stimulation when it comes to sports. Radio is all well and good and is a fine institution but does it really do justice to a Pavel Datsyuk dangle or a Nicklas Lidstrom stick check? I think you'll all agree with me that it doesn't. For proof, how many different angles do you usually see a replay of a goal from? Usually, it's somewhere between three to five different angles. Do you need all of those different angles to see the end result? No, not at all. But, what those different angles do help to accomplish is a better sense of the spatial mapping of the players on the ice surface. How close was the goalie to saving the puck? How many times did the puck bounce before he was able to settle it down? How far away from the defender was the forward when he let the shot go? We love to see this stuff, even if it's in a sometimes overwhelming amount that we see it. We love to see every view possible to try and get a feel for what the players are seeing on the ice as they make the plays.
So what's my solution? Take the jump.
There are already so many camera angles available already but you know what? I'm greedy and I want more.
Perhaps the one I would like to see the most is the one that is pictured above. It frequents the fields of collegiate and professional football fields but how would it work in the NHL? I think it would work incredibly well in an NHL arena. A NHL rink is 200 feet long, compared to the 300 feet of a football field. That 100 foot difference doesn't sound like all that much but when you think about how fast the overhead cams move up and down a field and apply that to an ice rink and you could have some incredible results. Imagine the view you'd have flying down the ice on a play like Darren Helm's breakaway goal against the Ducks in the playoffs or the over head view you could have during your team's power play cycle.
The potential of something like this is incredible to think about and it might even help out in goal reviews. The impact on a fan in attendance would be minimal too as the wire cams are usually not that obstructive to a view. However, with every plan there are problems with a system like that. How do you work the cables around the scoreboard in center ice? Would the wires and camera interfere with high clears? I think this is all stuff that would be relatively easy to work out to implement something as potentially incredible as this.
Another thing I would like to see is just more cameras. I think it'd be nice to have a camera in the boards along each blue line, eliminating any guess work on angles for offsides plays or determining if a puck left the zone. Cameras inside the boards themselves would be pretty neat too. Not necessarily along the endboards or anywhere that receives a lot of puck action but a camera on each side of each zone (6 total) would add a unique view to watching the game.
It's also kind of sad that the sport has been televised for so long with out any really good angles to determine whether a puck completely crossed the line. Really? We're going to rely on the camera that's like 75 feet above the goal line or the one in the net that always seems to be looking at the complete opposite side of the goal at the crucial time? Is it that hard to put cameras just inside the goal posts?
I thought about some other camera options like if you put a camera in a ref's helmet or a player's helmet. Yeah that'd be cool for the first few times you see it and then you'd want to throw up because of all the motion. However, there are some players and refs that I would like to see have cameras put into their helmets:
- Pavel Datsuyk--so you could see the desperation and frustration in the faces of those defending him
- Darren Helm rear view cam--so you can see players busting their asses to catch up
- Brad Watson--so you can see exactly what the hell he saw to call something off
- Nicklas Lidstrom--so you could see perfection for once
- Niklas Kronwall--so you can see the "oh shit" expression
- Ryan Getzlaf innerhelmet cam--so you can count exactly how many hairs are left on his dome
- Zdeno Chara--so you can see the world through the eyes of a giant
- Brett Lebda--so you can scope the same girls in the crowd that the Lebdanator does.
- Rick Rypien--so you can see what Minnesota fans look like up close
- Kyle Wellwood--so you can see a case of Mallomars up close
- Nikolai Khabibulin--so you can see red lights going off in game and blue lights after the game
- Tomas Kopecky--so you can see how often he looks at Marian Hossa or misses an opportunity
- Matt Cooke--so you can see the looks of disgust from players around the league and a close-up of Evander Kane's fist
- Gary Bettman--so you can see what the inside of the Keebler Elves Tree looks like
- Keith Ballard--so you can see how often he looks at a goalie
- Any opposing goalie playing against Tomas Holmstrom--on second thought.....
Okay, done with the joking around. In all seriousness, I think some of the above cameras would be really awesome to have and the overhead on a wire would be awesome for hockey. Of course all these cameras would cost big money and it may not be something that teams could do for every broadcast but for national broadcasts or playoff action it would be really awesome to see. And like I said before, I'm greedy.