NHL Benches Get iPads

All 16 NHL playoff teams outfitted with three Apple iPad Pros on benches

  • by Mark J. Burns
  • Published: April 18, 2017

An Apple iPad Pro which will be bench-side for all NHL teams.

(Editor's note: This story previously appeared in SportTechie.com)

During this year’s playoffs, National Hockey League (NHL) coaches and players don’t have to wait until intermission to review highlights and game-play footage. In all 16 playoff venues, the league has installed a video coaching system that will include three Apple iPad Pros placed on holders on the glass behind or on the side of team benches. Starting with the 2017-18 season, all 31 NHL arenas will have the new system.

The iPads come loaded with an app that allows coaches and players to view highlights in real-time, which can be created by each team’s video coaches through the use of league-issued Mac computers.

“By the time the player gets off his shift, that content is available within a minute, I guess, from the time it actually took place,” NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Peter DelGiacco told the Associated Press, which first reported the story. “Today, generally speaking, a lot of that would be done between periods and there’s a limited amount of time. … This kind of gives the coaches and the players real-time access so that they can make adjustments.”

On Wednesday night, a bird’s-eye photo from Getty Images showed a Montreal Canadiens staffer looking at an iPad during an Eastern Conference quarter-finals matchup against the New York Rangers.

With in-arena video technology system and through a collaboration with Apple, on-ice officials will now be able to utilize iPad Pros for video reviews, too. For this past regular season, coaches were able to have video monitors on benches to assist in challenging offsides calls or goaltender interference situations.

“It’s going to be huge in the playoffs,” Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said to the AP. “The referees, the league wants to get it right, the coaches want to get it right.”

Guy Boucher, coach of the Ottawa Senators, added that having the iPads accessible on the benches has minimized the amount of intermission time spent communicating with players because they could do it immediately during the play.

“We look at it because sometimes we’re not seeing everything that’s going on on the ice,” he said. “It’s good also for feedback with our players and, yeah, it’s good for challenges and all that. … It helps us also between periods because instead of looking at 12 different things between periods, we might have to look at five or six, so it’s quicker for us to get back to our players and tell them about adjustments because sometimes we already know a few adjustments and a lot of times we’ll address it right on the bench.”

Both the NFL and Major League Baseball (MLB) have various tablet technologies on the sidelines and dugouts. The Microsoft Surface, as part of a five-year, $400-million deal with the NFL that started in 2013, came under fire this past October when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick vowed he was done utilizing the technology. Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs had his own difficulties during the National League Championship Series (NLCS) last Fall, failing to submit a starting lineup with his nonleague-issued iPad device. Last March, Apple and Major League Baseball announced a deal that would place iPad Pros in each team’s dugout throughout the season.

  • by Mark J. Burns
  • Published: April 18, 2017