In 2014, SAP, Apple, and the NHL started working on ways to give players and coaches more data in real time. Feedback from coaches indicated they wanted access to instant replays and statics -- directly on the bench during a game. There isn't a lot of room on a hockey bench, and thus, SAP and the NHL decided to give each team iPad Pro tablets and started to work on an app that made all the data easy and quick to access.
The first version of SAP-NHL Coaching Insights app for iPad launched in 2019, with stats like time on ice for each player and face-off percentages with specific player matchups -- for a total of over 75 individual stats and over 50 team stats.
After launch, the NHL and SAP held sessions during the draft, since they had a captive audience with coaches from most teams in the same city, to gather feedback about what coaches liked, didn't like, and wanted to see in future updates. However, regarding the meetings, Chris Foster, senior director of digital at the NHL, said: "The one challenge, as you can imagine, is you get a bunch of coaches in a room and sometimes they aren't as forthright as they want to be. Maybe they hold things a little close to the vest."
Ultimately, the NHL decided to hold private Zoom sessions with individual teams when the entire league paused all games and practices due to COVID-19. A total of 85 coaches from all 31 teams in the league participated in the calls -- including several head coaches -- providing valuable, honest feedback about the app.
The second version of the app, which is currently in use by every NHL team, leverages data and stats collected during each game and transmits it to iPads in near real time. But the accuracy of the data is increasing thanks to small RF sensors embedded in each player's jersey, and soon, the same type of sensor will be added to every puck used in live games.