Soccer team in a huddle

SAP Takes Center Ice at World Cup of Hockey In Toronto

September 27, 2016 by Eric Annino 66

What is the World Cup of Hockey? It’s just like other international tournaments, but on an NHL rink with NHL rules.

After a 12-year hiatus, the World Cup of Hockey is back in a big way. This year’s tournament, being held in Toronto September 17 to October 1, features 150 of the best players in the world competing for national teams in a round robin format. With extensive coverage on ESPN, broadcasts in over 200 countries, a series of clever commercials, and a host of corporate sponsors, including SAP, the World Cup of Hockey just may cement itself as a regular international event.

The World Cup of Hockey is back after a 12 year hiatus; SAP is a corporate sponsor

History of the WCoH

The World Cup of Hockey was created as the successor to the Canada Cup, which itself has an interesting history. In the 1970s, amid cold war tensions with the Soviet Union, Canada was eager to establish its hockey dominance on the global stage. The Canada Cup was created, with the inaugural tournament featuring Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Soviet Union, Sweden, and the United States. After a 15-year run, from 1976 to 1991, the Canada Cup became the World Cup of Hockey in 1996.

The rules and rink size are really what differentiate the World Cup of Hockey from other international tournaments. Games are played on an NHL-sized rink, with NHL rules, and officiated by NHL officials. The tournament was last played in 2004 at venues in North America and Europe. This year’s tournament, the third ever, boasts a unique lineup of teams. Apart from the usual suspects like Canada, the United States, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, there’s Team Europe, featuring a diverse group of players from countries like Slovenia, Denmark, and Norway, and Team North America, comprised of US- and Canada-born players under the age of 24.

The SAP Footprint

brent-burns-of-san-jose-sharks-plays-with-fan-in-sap-skills-challenge

Brent Burns plays hockey with kids in the Fan Village.

SAP has a huge presence at the tournament. Fans who visit the World Cup of Hockey Fan Village in the city’s hip Distillery District are treated to a series of interactive skills challenges, including hardest shot, passing accuracy, shot accuracy, and stickhandling. On the ice, SAP is powering player and puck tracking technology, which is still being piloted but has tremendous potential for use by players, coaches, broadcasters, and fans. Every game-worn jersey at the World Cup of Hockey also features an SAP logo on the shoulder.

Local SAP employees are getting into the action too, with discounted tickets to the game, trivia for prizes, and friendly competition in the Fan Village.

SAP CEO Bill McDermott Speaks at Innovation Summit

The main event for SAP at the World Cup of Hockey is the Innovation Summit, which took place September 22. SAP customers, NHL teams and league office members, and sports and technology media were in attendance for three panels on topics in sports and technology. In the early session, SAP’s Irfan Khan, general manager and global head of Database and Data Management, spoke about applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As a capstone to the event, SAP CEO Bill McDermott had a fireside chat with NHL Commissioner and SAP advocate Gary Bettman, moderated by former NHL player, current Lead Hockey Analyst at NBC Sports, and SAP Ambassador Eddie Olczyk. McDermott and Bettman spoke about leading through change, overcoming adversity, and the business applications of the player, coach, and GM roles. Sports was the common theme.

“Sports really does transform people’s lives. It’s a powerful force,” said McDermott, characteristically bringing in the human element. He also spoke about the NHL partnership and the importance of technology in every industry. “Whether you’re running a league or a business, you cannot be successful unless your competitive advantage is a data-driven understanding of the consumer.”

According to @BillRMcDermott, success depends on a data-driven understanding of the consumer

Watch the video of the fireside chat:

If the World Cup of Hockey is any indication, technology will continue to change the game of hockey. As the tournament continues, stay up to date with the latest news and much more: @SAPSports and SAP Sports on Facebook

Hear what the NHL had to say about the Innovation Summit

Related images via Shutterstock

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