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NHL puck, player tracking sounds good to Blackhawks star Patrick Kane

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The NHL is ready to move into the future, and this time it’s going to be a lot more sophisticated than the infamous glow puck of the 1990s. While some of the league’s longtime players might resist the advancement, Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is eager to see it in use.

He won’t have to wait long. The league will begin drawing data from puck and player tracking for every game in the 2019-20 season and has been testing it this year. It was used for two games in Las Vegas this month and will be in play for tonight’s All-Star Game.

“I don’t know how you’re gonna actually change your game around it, but I think it can be good information,” Kane said. “Whether it’s how fast you’re skating on the forecheck, what distance you’re shooting from when you’re actually scoring…It could help a little bit.

“It’s kind of the unknown right now. You don’t know what effect it’s going to have on your game yet, so we’ll see. I’m hoping it teaches us a few things.”

Patrick Kane is among the NHL players eager to see the league advance technologically. | Sun-Times

The league will install the tracking system in every arena before next season, and devices will be built into pucks and jerseys. Puck tracking is no small undertaking considering they are frozen and smacked at speeds 100 miles an hour and higher.

The intent is to measure skating speed and distance, puck velocity, passing precision and other aspects. The information will be available to coaches during games on customizable tablets, but the players association insisted on protection against it being used in salary negotiations and arbitration.

The NHL also hopes it will enhance broadcasts — NBC is expected to highlight the analytics throughout tonight’s game — and the in-arena experience, and there’s also a greater demand for that kind of information with the growth of sports gambling.

High-tech analytics have been utilized by players and coaches throughout the NBA over the past decade, and it has influenced the way some play. The NHL might be on the brink of a similar transition.

“It’s just more information that coaches and players can look at it and take certain statistics and information and try to apply it to your game,” Kane said. “”It’s amazing the things they can do now.

“It’s always cool to see the distance that you shoot from, how fast you’re going out there… You’ll probably find out a lot more information that will help your game.”