NHL: Play­offs get a high-tech twist, with iPads avail­able on every bench


NHL coaches will have more tech­nol­ogy on the bench than ever be­fore as the Stan­ley Cup play­offs be­gin.

Three iPad Pros will be avail­able for coaches on every bench and of­fi­cials will also have them to re­view coach’s chal­lenges, The As­so­ci­ated Press has learned. All 16 play­off are­nas have been out­fit­ted with the iPads and also Macs for video coaches as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ap­ple.

This sea­son, coaches have been able to use video mon­i­tors on the bench to help them de­cide when to chal­lenge off­side and goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence sit­u­a­tions. With the iPads, which were tested late in the reg­u­lar sea­son, they’ll have real-time video ca­pa­bil­i­ties to show play­ers their own shifts min­utes af­ter they hap­pen as they dis­cuss ad­just­ments.

The mon­i­tors had al­ready be­come a game-changer for coaches, giv­ing them more in­for­ma­tion on chal­lenges and for player feed­back. The tech­nol­ogy will be even more valu­able in the play­offs when goals are scarcer and the off­side and goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence chal­lenges can de­cide a game — or a se­ries.

The St. Louis Blues lost Game 2 to the Chicago Black­hawks last year when a coach’s chal­lenge wiped out a go-ahead goal by Vladimir Tarasenko, and even though they won the se­ries they felt the at­tri­tion of need­ing seven games to ad­vance.

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

Dur­ing the sea­son, 86 of 313 coach’s chal­lenges were suc­cess­ful in over­turn­ing calls. With the aid of the mon­i­tors, head­sets and video coaches watch­ing live, each team de­vel­oped its own step-by-step process in de­cid­ing when to chal­lenge a goal for goalie in­ter­fer­ence or off­side and tried to per­fect it.

Speed will be key as the league cracks down on coaches who daw­dle be­fore de­cid­ing to chal­lenge.

“When you have chal­lenges, to have the abil­ity to quickly look at what you’re do­ing and now they’re try­ing to ex­pe­dite it even that much more,” Ari­zona Coy­otes coach Dave Tip­pett said. “When you’re in those crit­i­cal mo­ments, you’ve got to make that de­ci­sion in a hurry. You bet­ter have some­body good back there that knows what you want to see and the abil­ity to make the de­ci­sion quick.”

Hav­ing iPads in the hands of as­sis­tant coaches will pro­vide a cru­cial ben­e­fit for player ad­just­ments. Late in the sea­son, Ot­tawa Se­na­tors winger Bobby Ryan looked at film of Pitts­burgh Pen­guins goal­tender Matt Mur­ray on the bench be­fore a shootout, and coach Guy Boucher has also used the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy be­yond chal­lenges.

“We look at it be­cause some­times we’re not see­ing ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on on the ice,” Boucher said. “It’s good also for feed­back with our play­ers and, yeah, it’s good for chal­lenges and all that. I think it’s been im­por­tant since the be­gin­ning of the year. It helps is 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.”

But the big­gest im­pact all sea­son has been on coaches be­cause they can point out the ex­act time of a po­ten­tial off­side or ex­plain to an of­fi­cial what they see as goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence.

Trotz re­called a goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence chal­lenge ear­lier this sea­son where he was able to point out how an op­po­nent was push­ing down on Braden Holtby’s blocker and keep­ing him from be­ing able to ro­tate and make the save.

“We ex­plained it and we won it,” he said.


Washington Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz said hav­ing iPads on the bench is "go­ing to be huge in the play­offs."

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