The Erie Otters could possibly thank an iPad for being the cause of their first loss this season.
It was Oct. 15 at Budweiser Gardens and the London Knights power play wasn’t generating many chances until assistant general manager Rob Simpson noticed the Otters were leaving an ample amount of space for his team to get close to the net.
Simpson took out an iPad and showed the Knights where they needed to be and before the power play ended defenceman Julius Bergman had his first Ontario Hockey League (OHL) goal when he slid down from the blue line and went to the net.
“It’s something where if the (players) can see it, they can execute it,” Simpson said about the help from the iPad. “They can visualize it and see what they need to do and where the guys are on the ice.”
The iPad has been a new addition to the Knights bench this year, but with stories like that it’s quickly becoming a necessity.
The new technology allows coaches to make in-game changes, show players instantly what they’re doing right or wrong and can even have bench bosses quickly yelling, or maybe a speedy shut up, by rapidly reviewing a referee’s questionable call.
Imagine if London had the iPad two years ago for Game 7 in the OHL championship with the Barrie Colts. The Knights wouldn’t have been forced to wait for the ref’s decision to see if Bo Horvat’s game-winning goal with 0.1 seconds left in regulation was in time or not. They could have started celebrating a few minutes earlier while the review was happening.
The iPad is remotely connected to a TV in the Knights dressing room, using a Slingbox, which is showing the live Rogers broadcast of the game on it. The coaches can pause and rewind the broadcast at any point on the iPad.
“We can look back and make sure we know what we’re speaking to the boys about 100 percent before we tell them about a play on the ice,” Simpson said.
The iPads can be seen in the NHL ranks and was something Knights coach Dale Hunter brought back with him after his stint behind the bench with the Washington Capitals two years ago.
Simpson wasn’t sure if London was the only team in the OHL using an iPad, but he said he hasn’t seen any other team in the league use one yet.
You’re guaranteed to see the handheld device at Budweiser Gardens, but it can only be used in other arenas if the Internet connection is strong enough.
That’s not an excuse for the Knights 4-5-0 road record compared to being 9-3-0 at home.
For now London is ahead of the curve using the iPad, but Simpson is expecting the rest of the junior ranks to catch up at some point.
In an age where the importance of analytics seems to always be talked about and video scouting a stalwart in every organization, the iPad on the bench doesn’t wait for the game to end for the results to start coming in.
Every team is looking for an edge and the Knights might have just found it. The iPad gives everyone on the squad, players and coaches alike, get a different perspective of the ice.
The only perspective that matters is a winning one and the iPad seems to giving that.
“I know all players when you’re on the ice you see a completely different from somebody that is standing stationary right on the coaches bench,” Simpson said. “It’s been a huge advantage for our guys just to be able to look at that play we’re speaking about or that power play or that penalty kill, or whatever play we’re talking about, and see what we’re discussing and have some good dialogue on it.”