Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Innovation? We Shall See

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the next innovation in hockey if the Nordic folks in Europe get their way. According to the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery, the Aalto Puck, as it's called, is "the most equal puck produced" because most of its actions are decided by chance, giving both teams random advantages throughout the game depending on how the puck bounces. Or at least that's how I read the release for the puck. For the first time ever in modern hockey, the proposal of changing the puck is being considered by these Nordic scientists as they look to change something vital to the game.

We've seen innovations in everything in hockey. Sticks went from wood to aluminum to composite. Shoulder and elbow pads went from leather to plastic. Skates went from tube skates to the TUUK chassis to Reebok Pump skates and on and on. Goaltenders used one-pieces masks and eventually switched to the cages and the hybrid masks we see today. Pads, blockers, jerseys, water bottles, nets - everything has changed, but the puck has always remained a constant. Sure, they tried the FoxTrak puck, but that idea died quickly.

According to Rule 13.1 in the NHL Rulebook, "The puck shall be made of vulcanized rubber, or other approved material, one inch (1") thick and three inches (3") in diameter and shall weigh between five and one-half ounces (5½" oz.) and six ounces (6 oz.). All pucks used in competition must be approved by the League."

Seems pretty standard, right?

The physics of a standard puck are pretty simple as well. The conservation of angles states that a puck hitting a perpendicular surface will rebound off at the same angle. This law is how a number of the better players in the NHL can bank pucks off the boards to make perfect breakaway passes, and why some great goal-scorers seem to have no problem judging where a puck will end up before it has left a player's stick. Using the image to the right, if the puck goes in on Angle-A, the puck will rebound off the boards at Angle-A as well. That's puck physics in the game of hockey.

With the Aalto puck, however, physics goes completely out the window thanks to its non-uniform shape. As illustrated in the image to the right, there is literally no respect to the laws of physics as the unique shape of the Aalto puck cuts out any chance of the conservation of angles from being enforced. This is that "built-in randomness" that the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery boasts with their puck, and how this randomness will present opportunities for both teams as this puck skitters around the ice. I'm not sure that many coaches will appreciate this puck, but it could make for some very interesting games.

Let's be honest: this new puck will not be popular with the hockey world. I'm going to guess that 99.999% of people involved in the game will turn their noses up at the Aalto puck. The NHL, the NHLPA, all the minor-pro leagues, all European leagues, all junior and collegiate leagues - I can't see anyone endorsing this puck for play in any league anywhere. That 99.999% can probably be rounded up to 100% when it comes to the hockey establishment.

And that's fine because I'm going to be the 0.001% that gives this puck a shot - literally. I'm going to drag it out onto the ice and shoot with it. And I'll get others to try it out. I'll record thoughts of the players, the effects of shooting the puck and the rebounds given off, and I'll post the results.

All I need is an Aalto puck! Thankfully, I signed up for one on the Aalto puck website, so head over there if this idea intrigues you. We can collaborate if you receive one, and we'll see how our results compare.

The Aalto puck may look weird, but HBIC will see if it has any shot at changing how hockey is played by adding more chance and fun to the game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


binary options canada said...

This is for real? Not a joke?

Can't really tell from their website... hehe.

Teebz said...

It's apparently very real. I signed up on their web form to try and get one to see how this reacts, and they favorited my tweet about it today. So if this is a joke, well played by all involved. :o)