The NHL playoffs have been heating up and the first round has almost come to a close. I have been able to watch some of the action in the last couple of weeks, and I have really enjoyed the coverage. But there is something missing from the television coverage, the “Smart Puck”.
It was a brilliant creation of The Fox Network. It was debuted on FOX during their coverage of the 1996 NHL All Star game. It was used by FOX until 1999 when their contract with the league expired. It allowed the fan to keep better track of the hockey puck. The puck had integrated electronics to track its position on screen. During normal play the puck would glow blue, when hit hard the puck would turn red and streak across the screen.
The Smart Puck received mixed reactions. The hard core fans did not like the concept, many believed it took away from the game and hurt its tradition. Almost all of the casual fans loved it. For many of the casual fans up to that point they could not track the puck well and became disinterested. It brought a lot of attention to the FOX broadcasts and made fans feel more involved. It probably even boosted ratings for a while.
Oh how I miss the glowing puck. I say bring the Smart Puck back! I understand that it was a concept developed and owned by FOX, but it should be used still today at whatever the cost to the current broadcasting companies all over the world. Don’t get me wrong I still really like watching hockey, especially the playoffs. The Smart Puck helped me keep better track of what was going on during the game. It is hard at times to track the puck when you are watching on television. You usually have to just watch were the players are looking or where the groups of players go. Not as fun as watching with technology on the ice.
Football still has the digital first down marker after over a decade. No complaints from fans there. There should have been none by this development either. For now and probably forever we will be watching hockey without this awesome glowing object flying around the screen. Rest in peace FOX’s Smart Puck.