Note: All gifs have been compressed to be mobile friendly using gfycat.com
As I have stated in one of my previous articles, there are quite a few changes coming to how we, the fans, consume the product that is the NHL. Of those changes, the most noticeable is the five new camera angles. When watching on your TV, this opens up so many possibilities for the broadcasters to be able to give you so much more depth into the action that happens in the game. However when using the online based services, NHL GameCenter Live and Rogers GameCentre Live, you are given access to these angles at any moment that you want. Feel like creeping Carey Price all game? Go ahead. Want conclusive evidence that the ref is an idiot? Why not. Now that we have gotten through 34 games of hockey, I feel like it’s a good time to review these new camera angles.
This is the one that is the most prevalent, and I am sure if you have watched any of the Canadian teams play at home this week, you saw this camera angle. The Ref Cam is a camera that is attached to the helmet of a referee. This camera is easily the best and most exciting of the new camera angles and it adds so much to the viewing experience.
I am sure all of you have wished at some point what it is like to be a player. This doesn’t give you that, but it’s pretty close, if not better. If you think of the referee, they are the one person on the ice who is always trying to get the best angle on the play because he needs to see what is going on to make the proper call (AKA the “ref that was totally a goal, you idiot” proper call). When this camera angle was brought up at the NHL boardroom, I am sure it was a no brainer and everyone voted for it to be included unanimously.
The Star Cam is a camera not too different from the traditional fixed position cameras that we have gotten used to since the dawn of televised hockey. However this one is going to be fixed on a single NHL player each game. Although not ground-breaking, since I am have seen this camera angle from previous years where the camera is dedicated to a single player, it still provides a good angle on the game since these players do get most of the points in the game and a lot of action is going to be surrounded by them. Also, with newer and younger fans, they are there mostly to see those star players. So the Star Cam provides content to those fans and keeps them engaged. This camera angle is a necessity, but not ground-breaking.
Again, same story as the Star Cam, something that was definitely already existing but wasn’t readily available to the public. This camera is positioned directly above the goal crease for each team pointing directly down at each goalie to give a top down view of everything that is happening around each goalies’ crease. This camera angle has been used for many years to help review goals and it was used in TV broadcasts. However the difference comes in the fact that it is now readily available to the public at any time via the online GameCentre Live services. This camera angle is a necessity, but not ground-breaking.
Now here is the big losers of these new additions, the POV cameras. Although the blue line camera is good and offers a closer look at the play from the ice level, his brother Bench POV decided to be a jerk and give his family a bad name by lighting dog poop on fire on the neighbours’ porches. If you are in the mood for invading the little privacy that these players get during this game, go ahead. I understand the more depth, the better, but this is just getting ridiculous. Does the modern day hockey fan really want to see a bunch of panting, exhausted, and snot-rocketing hockey players uncomfortably looking at the camera beside their water bottle? I am sure most players when they get to the rink, they forget about the cameras and the people around them, do they really need the constant reminder of millions of people watching them condensed to the size of a water bottle? No. I already have seen a few circumstances of players forcibly turning the Bench POV camera into the bench. They even state that they expect a few to get broken over the year (start at the 2:20 mark of the video). To me, why would you implement something that you know is going to piss off the players? It’s like having your buddy record a video of you throwing rocks at that tiger in the zoo “because it’s going to get us dat youtube cash, yo.” They are treating them like animals. (Well, animals worth millions of dollars a year)
Although not as ground-breaking as the Ref Cam, the Sky Cam is my personal favourite. The Sky Cam is a camera fixed in the air with cables at the long side of the arena along the 200 level and offers similar camera angles to the traditional main camera angle. The first major difference though, is that it can move along the cables that support it so that it can give a better angle at the play. The real magic happens though, when a goal is scored:
Being able to see the crowd like that when a goal is scored gives me absolute chills. At the NHL level, hockey isn’t just about the play on the ice, it is also about the roughly 18,000 fans who are going nuts at the game tying goal that was just scored. Sometimes subtle changes are enough the ones that have the biggest impact.
Although these camera angles are not necessities, after a while I don’t think I could watch hockey without them (Okay if you were to tell me I can’t watch hockey in nothing but in fuzzy black and white, I would gladly watch each and every game). They do provide valuable and insightful angles to the game that will provide the depth that fans didn’t realise that they needed. The only real dud of all of these new camera angles is the Bench POV cameras, which I find is not constructive to the broadcast in any way (unless you are interested in what Sidney Crosby’s nasal cavity looks like, weirdo). I think the biggest winners here are the Ref Cam and the Sky Cam, which in all honesty I want to pick a (non-Leafs) game and see what it is like to watch a game completely from that angle.
Many people, myself included, were not okay with the Rogers Sportsnet acquisition of NHL Media Rights in Canada. The day I heard of the acquisition, I felt that it was an end of an era and that the way that I watched my favourite hobby was going to change forever. However the transition so far has gone by very smoothly, the game is still played the same way, just the way it’s presented is a little different. In the end hockey is hockey, but if I am able to see more moments like I’ve shown in this article, I’m happy with the direction that the NHL is going.
Cover Photo Credit: Steve Russell/Toronto Star