One of the technological advancements in the NHL over the years is a player’s sprint speed. Here, Maine native Garnet Hathaway of the Washington Capitals shows off his speed during a game this season. Photo provided by the NHL

When watching an NHL game on television, a compilation of advanced stats are often displayed on the screen. There’s a player’s sprint speed statistic, for example. Or the likelihood of a shot finding its way to the back of the net in real time.

The NHL has made an abundance of technological advancements to its televised product over the years, and one of the pioneers behind the movement is David Lehanski, a 1996 Bowdoin College graduate who played goalie for the Polar Bears.

“If you look at hockey, the stats haven’t changed in the past 100 years,” said Lehanski, 46, who is the executive vice president for business development and innovation with the NHL. “We believe we can do something to change that with the new sources of data we have today.”

The NHL, Lehanski says, for years has been determined to find a way for viewers to better understand the level of hockey being played from their living rooms.

His curiosity with NHL statistics began when he landed an internship with the New Jersey Devils one summer while still attending Bowdoin. That curiosity only grew when Lehanski later worked at a Connecticut sports marketing firm before being offered a job in the NHL’s communications department.

Dave Lehanski, who graduated from Bowdoin College in 1996, is the executive vice president for business development and innovation with the NHL. Photo provided by the NHL

It was then when Lehanski — a Jefferson Township, New Jersey native — began to act on his dream of expanding the technology for hockey statistics.

“It was a good fit; we both had similar ideas and a similar end goal,” said Lehanski, who resides in New York.

It was perfect timing for Lehanski and the NHL.

Lehanski said he helped the league bring to life its vision of making advanced stats more obtainable, such as sprint speed or shot speed. 

“It wasn’t my idea, Gary Bettman (NHL commissioner) launched the first wave of this with ‘FoxTrax’ (in 1994), which was basically just a glowing puck,” said Lehanski. “It was ahead of its time; the technology that was needed for it just wasn’t around back then.”

That technology slowly became available in 2012.

“We picked it back up with the same objective but had better resources at our disposal,” said Lehanski.

The NHL developed a tracking system for players and the puck. Thumbnail-sized tags were placed on all jerseys as a way to track players’ speed on the ice. Pucks were developed with tracking technology that could gather data on the speed of slapshots.

“Now you can see that these guys are skating 20 mph, or how hard that last slapshot your favorite player just took was,” Lehanski said. “It just brings more excitement and more engagement to our sport.”

Cameras around the rink help gather the data for Lehanski and his team. Lehanski said 14 cameras are placed in each NHL arena, with the goal of capturing the puck or the tag on a player’s jersey 15-60 times per second. 

“Another thing this allows us to do is create an overlay and graphics based on data picked up in-game,” said Lehanski, whose cousin, Marco Baron, was an NHL goalie from 1979-1985. 

Lehanski added that he spends a lot of time thinking of other ideas the league can develop.

 “I spend a lot of time thinking about and have a long list of opportunities to pursue, there’s so much out there right now,” he said. “The world of opportunity out there is pretty much endless in the digital world, a lot of things are cool but you have to ensure it will help the league in the short and long-term.”

Comments are not available on this story.