Technology offers extra set of eyes on Wild's bench

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 1, 2013 - 11:36 PM
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ANAHEIM, CALIF. - If you're a Wild fan curious as to what assistant coach Darryl Sydor is doing with an iPad on the bench during games, he's not, as head coach Mike Yeo joked, playing solitaire.

He's not playing Words With Friends or perusing Twitter, either.

For the first time this season, the Wild is using an iPad on the bench in order to assist players during games. It is undoubtedly in the elementary stages as the coaches try to figure out the best way to incorporate the device.

"It's taking some getting used to," Yeo said. "The biggest difference is instead of looking up at [the center-ice] big screen, we're looking down."

Sydor is mostly using the iPad quickly during TV timeouts to show players things like opposing penalty kill and power-play setups, forechecks and faceoff plays. But because this is a fast-flowing sport in which Yeo and assistant coach Rick Wilson need to constantly be watching for matchups and switching lines and defense pairs, it hasn't gotten a lot of use during play.

Basically, the Wild is hooked up to Slingbox, which enables Sydor to stream the game and rewind to different points. But there are kinks, like "a 5-second delay," Sydor said.

Defenseman Ryan Suter took advantage of it once.

"After a power-play breakaway, after my shift, I wanted to see what my options were," Suter said.

Added Zach Parise, "It's a pretty cool concept."

The Wild hopes that at some point it will be able to have direct communication on the iPad with video coordinator Jonas Plumb, who sits in a back room cataloging games in real time.

Plumb documents everything from forechecks to retrievals to scoring chances to virtually every aspect of the game for coaches to see between periods.

"It would be nice to have that ability to look on the bench," Yeo said.

Still, Sydor said he has noticed that the past couple of games "players are wanting to see now rather than just be told. It's useful to show them something visual."

According to NHL executives Colin Campbell and Terry Gregson, technological advances like iPads aren't prohibited as long as they don't provide an unfair advantage. Gregson believes Washington was the first to have coaches using iPads on the bench soon after they hit the market.

Battling through

Suter was coming off a couple of high-quality games for the Wild heading into Friday's game at Anaheim.

Making it more impressive, he was sick as a dog. He had to take fluids intravenously before Tuesday's and Wednesday's games against Columbus and Chicago and barely got sleep after Sunday's game against St. Louis.

"He's a warrior. That's the one thing I love about him," Yeo said. "The guy is an absolute hockey player, a throwback to 'put me on the ice, I want to play.' No excuses from him. To see how well he played regardless of his condition was great, but to do it on top of that was phenomenal."

Suter, who had four assists and was minus-5 in seven games before Friday, knows he has been under scrutiny from fans and media.

"I try not to read any of that stuff," Suter said, laughing. "Obviously people have their opinions. I rather be even and plus and have no points than be minus and have 30 points. But we'll get her turned around."

Etc.

• Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (foot) skated Friday morning but missed his fifth consecutive game. He said his injury is improving but "is very frustrating."

• Left winger Matt Kassian, who hasn't played this season, and defenseman Nate Prosser were healthy scratches.

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