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NHL Scoreboard Trends

The days of the old analog scoreboards are over. The 1990's called and took back all of their NHL scoreboards which ushered in the digital era of center-hung video boards. Now we see much more variety in scoreboard designs which come in a range of shapes and sizes. However most people are more focused on the ice and have probably never noticed the trends around the league and how scoreboards are evolving. Let's take a look at a few of these trends.

Arizona still uses their 2003 scoreboard and it was one of the first all LED boards in the league. Multiple teams (Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, etc) have had models that were quite similar: 4 main video screens with 8 screens above and LED rings above and/or below. This design has likely run its course as it does not allow for large enough main video screens to compete in the NHL these days.

Vancouver went LED in 2006 but they went with a more rounded look. Although their main screens are no longer competitive in size, the design would certainly still work today on a larger scale. San Jose built a similar model in 2011 with a taller layout. More recently, Winnipeg upgraded to a similar style in 2015 proving that this general design still works.

In 2009, Dallas upgraded their scoreboard to a style that shared a similar shape to some 1990's style scoreboards. This was no obsolete board though. It boasted league leading 30 by 18 foot HD video boards with room above and below for ads and scoring. You might say it was ahead of its time as 9 more scoreboards would be built in the years after that were smaller in main video screen size. Edmonton's new scoreboard has a similar shape and layout with a modern twist and an even more impressive size. St. Louis seems to have a design similar to that of Edmonton's, but a bit smaller. Where it lacks in size, it impresses with border-less video displays on its four main sides and its ribbon displays.

Some avid NHL fans may have trouble distinguishing this set of boards. Talk about cookie cutter scoreboards in the modern era. Washington first introduce this style to the NHL, stacking a scoring display just above the main video screen, and sandwiching the two between two LED rings. Pittsburgh and New York (Islanders) followed suit with only minor differences.

When Ottawa finally upgraded their aging scoreboard in 2011, they started a trend that would be the model for Columbus and Florida and you could argue that this was also part of the inspiration behind Edmonton and St. Louis. All three of these boards have more of a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than the 16:9 that most HD screens use. Columbus and Florida do not even put the scoring display on the main video screen so this aspect ratio is quite noticeable. Although Columbus' board may stand out for being taller due to it's extra LED ring, Florida's scoreboard is actually much more unique. It features 360 degrees of main video replay capability, though only the 4:3 area on each of the four sides is used for game play. They use the corners for ads and graphics but perhaps should look into making that area narrower and leaving more room for a wider replay area.

Finally, there are the Cowboy Stadium style boards. The ones with huge sides, but tiny end screens. Great for fans on the sides of the bowl, but not so great for the ones on the ends. Tampa Bay started this trend and while some teams (Colorado and Minnesota) are not so bad, we hope this is a trend that dies quickly. To our delight, it seems like it might do just that. Detroit, Edmonton, and St. Louis all stated that they specifically were looking to provide an equal viewing experience for those sitting on either of the 4 sides of the bowl. New Jersey and Detroit are proof that you can have a nearly 50 ft wide equilateral scoreboard. Of all of these rectangular scoreboards, Anaheim Ducks fans got the worst end of the deal. At only 30 feet wide, there was really no need to sacrifice the size of the end screens. So many teams have equal sided scoreboards with all four sides roughly the same size or even larger. (Montreal, Dallas, Toronto to name a few)

Of course, as time goes on, new technology will come along and more trends will be born. Recent renderings of a future renovation to Key Arena in Seattle suggest that we might see 2 scoreboards hanging from the rafters. Could a day come where the center-hung scoreboards are replaced by something else. What if arena's were built to support an Atlantic Falcons style video board near the roof? The future will have all of these answers. We will just have to wait.

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