Surprises to starting lineups aren’t that uncommon in the NHL. The league doesn’t mandate injury reports like the NFL and NBA, while MLB clubs list probable pitchers days in advance. On any given game day many NHL teams choose not to announce their starting goaltenders until warmups, and information regarding injuries can be vague at best. But should that change in a league trying to embrace the sports betting industry?
“To this point in time, that’s not being contemplated,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “People ask whether our sports betting partners have requested it, have expressed any concerns with regard to our current policies. None of that has been done.”
The NHL’s level of transparency appears to be at odds with its plans to get into sports betting. The league already has several sports betting partners, including William Hill, MGM Resorts, FanDuel, Bally’s, Betway, PointsBet and DraftKings. The NHL also has Sportradar as an integrity partner.
“I would like to see it go in that direction, because when you try to keep that information confidential, I think you’re going down the wrong hole,” said Jay Kornegay, vice president of the Westgate SuperBook. “As only a certain amount of people have that information, some people could take advantage of that situation.”
However, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sportsbook operators and bettors say they don’t think the lack of transparency is keeping people away from betting windows.
“People here want to bet the Knights,” handicapper Dana Lane said. “They want to have action on it. People that come into town want action on the game. I don’t think that hinders it at all. It may hinder who they bet on, but I don’t think the actual desire to bet the game is hindered in any way by who starts in net.”
The NHL’s lack of transparency can actually be a benefit for those closely following the game. Each team has various clues or traditions that can be used to pick up lineup hints. Some bettors can actually gain an advantage in the absence of official information. Some teams don’t announce their starting goaltender until warmups all season, but the first one off the ice at the morning skate almost always played that night.
Bettors looking for additional information can typically follow reporters covering the team and learn most of what they need to know. It’s rare that a club has a truly surprising and impactful last-minute lineup decision.
By Jon Sorensen