Pucks used during the 2019-20 NHL season will change color as their temperature reaches above freezing. A thermochromic coating will change from purple to clear to indicate to officials that the puck should be replaced.
The innovation is part of a three-year extended partnership with Pittsburgh-based paint supplier PPG, the official paint of the NHL in the U.S. and Canada. PPG developed the thermochromic coating with the help of QCR Solutions and LCR Hallcrest.
The thermochromic layer is screen printed directly onto the game pucks. All pucks are frozen prior to use to reduce bouncing. The coating was first tested during the 2019 Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.
“Hockey pucks are made of vulcanized rubber and glide smoother and faster when frozen,” said Dan Craig, NHL VP of Facilities Operations, in a statement made in December 2018. “Freezing a puck eliminates bouncing, and game officials closely monitor the puck for temperature changes that affect performance while in play. A coating that changes color when the puck is above freezing will more accurately alert the officials that it is time for a replacement.”
After several years of development, the league also plans to deploy a puck-and-player tracking system for the 2019-20 season. JogMo will track the locations of both using RFID tags in the puck and on the players’ pads. Sportlogiq is also a leading candidate to become the league’s optical tracking partner.