Puck luck? The secrecy of hockey makes betting on the NHL a recreation of probability

When the Washington Capitals took the ice to win in regulation to keep their division hopes alive, it was a surprise when top center Nicklas Backstrom and No. 1 defender John Carlson were ruled out 30 minutes before the puck was released were declared.

At least Washington revealed who started in the gate. Vegas coach Peter DeBoer made it clear at the start of the season that he wouldn’t do anything like that.

“We will announce a starter at the season,” said DeBoer. “Why should the other team have more time to prepare than we need to prepare for what they’re going to see online?”

That philosophy won’t change this weekend when the playoffs start and the regular season money on hockey triples. The NHL has gone down to legalized sports betting and partnered with several sportsbooks, but the sport that prides itself on secrecy is not going to ditch the merchandise in the event of injuries or the launch of goalkeepers anytime soon.

It’s a fold for sports betting and bettors realizing that this is only part of the business when it comes to hockey.

“They understand 100% what they’re getting into,” said Keith Wachtel, chief business officer and executive vice president of global partnerships for the NHL. “It doesn’t matter how much information you could give in a sport – you would always want more. … We will not change our current system due to sports betting. “

The Associated Press spoke to representatives from five of the six sports betting with NHL partnerships about the potential and dangers of hockey betting. The randomness of a bouncing puck that sets a game or streak, the lack of injury disclosure, and the ruse ingrained in sport make it a challenging endeavor when the NHL is trying to battle it out against the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and others to claim to attract more attention when it comes to betting.

Pittsburgh manager Mike Sullivan likes to say that his entire line-up is a “game-time decision”. The New York Islanders coach, Barry Spy, like DeBoer, will not reveal his goalkeeper.

“It’s frustrating – I get frustrated at times,” said John Sheeran, commercial director for FanDuel, who also bets and whose company offers odds to The Associated Press. “It is accepted to a certain extent. We know what is happening. We know why it happens. It’s not that teams are trying to keep it a secret from other bad intentions. “

Good luck in hockey. Warm-up exercises that begin half an hour before a game often reveal who’s in and out – much less time than the list of inactive players in the NFL, which must be submitted 90 minutes before kick-off.

“The more information we can get, the sooner the better so that everyone knows exactly what is going on,” said Andrew Mannino, senior sports content analyst at PointsBet. “You don’t want bettors to feel cheated if a star doesn’t play after supporting their team and we want as much information as possible so we can get everything we can count on on an even basis which would be great for us. “

There are always discussions between representatives of the league and sports betting, but Wachtel said there was no setback against the NHL because of a lack of information. Hockey bettor Andy MacNeil likes it that way because he views the sport as a fun challenge to make informed decisions that amateurs have to dig up to find out.

“That just screams that people want it to be easier,” said MacNeil, hockey analyst at VSiN, The Sports Betting Network. “But as a sports bettor, I’m not interested in helping anyone.”

BetMGM sports retailer Seamus Magee said injury disclosure is a problem for sports betting, but the bigger challenge for bookmakers is figuring out which goalkeepers will start. More than half of the playoff teams this year could use multiple goalkeepers, so the guessing games continue.

Surprising line-up decisions don’t have as much of an impact as other sports, given the team-oriented nature of hockey.

“The decline and performance of an ice hockey team without its star player just isn’t as strong as it is for the Lakers without LeBron or for the Buccaneers without Brady,” Sheeran said.

And less money is wagered on the NHL than on any of the other major North American professional sports leagues. Nick Bogdanovich, Commercial Director of William Hill US, said, “NHL betting has always been way, way, way, way below the NFL, NBA, MLB and other sports but points to the Vegas Golden Knights as the reason for it.” Optimism.

“I can’t even tell you how many people I know who didn’t even know what the puck was and now they live and die for the Golden Knights games,” said Bogdanovich. “People like the game as soon as they see the game and become interested in the game.”

Ted Leonsis bet on it. The owner of the Capitals and Wizards of the NBA was no weather himself, joking that he didn’t even know what an upper body injury meant, “and I own the team”. But he’ll be opening the first stationary sports betting in an NHL arena later this year.

“Our generation might have viewed gambling (as), only the term gambling is negative,” said Leonsis. “Sports games for a young person do not have negative connotations. … I was amazed at how quickly the stigma of gambling and gambling is disappearing. “

Hockey is a global sport, but even in the 18 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized sports betting, it’s still a niche option for bettors. Canada appears to be on the verge of legalizing single game sports betting, which itself could be a boon to hockey betting.

The next big step in technology is puck and player tracking, which could add thousands more data points and gambling opportunities to bettors, and get closer to what other sports have offered for years.

“It can’t come soon enough,” said Mannino. “This kind of statistical data that is available for hockey is sure to make a big difference.”


Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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