Most hockey fans remember the ill-fated FoxTrax system. Many also know up it as the infamous “Glow Puck.” The system was created by Sport Vision and utilized a small chip and battery inside the puck which would then transmit the puck's coordinates to the broadcast truck which would add the glow graphic which die-hard hockey fans came to hate. Though this system was a complete success from the broadcast point of view (nearly 70% of viewers liked the new puck), some hockey traditionalists and some players hated the puck.
Players complained that the puck gave a different rebound and the NHL refused to allow them access to the pucks for practice. Though we can't completely disregard the complaints by the players, the puck was engineered to be EXACT in weight and size to the actual puck and were tested to make sure such problems did not exist.
I know that many of you may disagree, but it is time to bring back the glow puck system. Many fans still complain about issues of seeing the puck and the excuse that the ice is white no longer holds wait. The puck is too small. High Definition has improved the viewing experience, but many fans still complain that the puck just is not visible enough. The logos painted on the ice also do not help since they take away some of the contrast which the white surface offers.
Let me be clear, I am not saying that we should bring back the blue glow and infamous “comet tail” created when a puck is shot. A simple drop-shadow around the puck will dynamically improve the viewing experience and will help to grow the game.
Every year, EA Sports releases a new version of its popular NHL video game franchise where the puck has a small gray drop shadow to help increase contrast. This slight addition is small enough that some gamers barely even notice. I think that it is time that the league adopts a similar method to help viewers track the puck.
Every sport utilizes some system to intuitively present information to the viewer. The NFL has the famous “Yellow Line” and the MLB has a system showing the exact trajectory of the baseball in relation to the strike zone. It is time that the NHL also uses a system to help the viewer. This should not be mandatory and if there are a couple of teams who do not wish to use the technology, fine.
The league should stop trying to tweak how hockey is played and attempt to change how the game is watched.