NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Discusses 2021 All-Star Weekend In Florida, Diversity, & Digital Innovations

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 7.55.42 PMScreencap: Sportsnet

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to the media prior to Friday’s All-Star Skills event and discussed the 2021 All-Star Weekend hosted by the Florida Panthers, diversity and inclusion efforts, player and puck tracking, and other digital advancements.

Earlier this week, it was unofficially announced that the Panthers would host the 2021 All-Star Weekend in Sunrise, Florida. Bettman confirmed saying the NHL and NHL Player’s Association are in discussions to bring an “international flavor” to the All-Star game in South Florida.

Bettman discussed an executive inclusion council that will “oversee diversity and inclusion efforts at both the league and club levels”. Parallel groups will also be formed to work in tandem with the council that will promote diversity among fans, players, and youth hockey participants. These groups will be “fully operational by the summer” according to Bettman.

This season, the average time for a regulation game is 2 hours and 27 minutes, which is three minutes faster than last year. The video replay rules have enhanced the pace of the game. Coaches have been challenging 34% fewer players than last season. When they are challenging, coaches have been getting them right. Bettman said it’s 60% of the time versus the 42% all-time high of a winning challenge.

Player and puck tracking will be used during this year skills competition and game on Saturday. All 16 playoff arenas will be using the tracking this postseason and it will be leaguewide by the 2021-22 season.

He was asked about the significance of player and puck tracking and its benefits for the league. “It’ll be as a fan and viewer what you want it to be,” Bettman said. Viewers can watch the game as usual, but it will include broadcast enhancements.

Bettman also said there will be more data “than ever before”. Players will generate 200 data points per second and the puck can generate 2,000 data points per second. You have the chance to get inside the game. “You’re going to be able to do more things than ever before and even imaginable,” Bettman added.

Dasher boards will also be digitalized. Advertisements can be changed and customized throughout the game to provide better media presence and engagement for everyone. “It is a significant innovation in our business,” Bettman said. It will not change any look or atmosphere of the arena.

“They’re hiring a first-class organization,” Bettman said about the Seattle expansion team. We still have to wait a little while longer to know what the official team name will be, but everything seems to be falling into place for its inaugural run in 2021-22.

Bettman also commented on Washington Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin’s aim to reach Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. “It’s incredible, it’s exciting,” he said. Bettman added that it’s a testament to Gretzky’s record that seemed almost impossible to achieve up until now and Ovechkin’s amazing career and longevity.

You can watch the full press conference here:

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, Della enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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