It was worth the walk.
In its infancy, few (not personally-invested) would declare that 3D is a game-changer in hockey broadcast history, but allow me to share my highly technological view.
It looked good. It looked really, really good.
"I think it's amazing," said legendary Rangers and Oilers captain Mark Messier, now an executive with Manhattan's hockey team. "To me, it's another breakthrough in how hockey can be presented."
"It looks spectacular," said Islanders owner Charles Wang, who watched his team give up three early goals in three dimensions in a 5-0 loss to the rival Rangers. "Hockey stands to benefit from the technology ... maybe more than any sport."
Oh, there were some mild complaints that there wasn't a "wow" factor, that the 3D telecast crew didn't show off enough, instead opting to make sure the 2,000 ticketholders, VIPs (Chloe Sevigny!) and guests saw the puck at all times. Other than an opening segment in which announcers Dave Maloney and Joe Micheletti appeared to reach through the screen with hockey sticks, the show was gimmick-free. To its credit, MSG Network -- which shows more than 300 hockey games a season between the Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres -- went for a broadcast to satisfy the techies and the hockey purists. By that measure, they succeeded.
I prepared for this assignment by loading up on reams of tech-dork stuff. Friends sent me links to stories in SatMagazine on the evolution of 3D. (Did you know the first cinema 3D productions were in the 1920s?). The good people at the Rangers, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision -- actually, all part of the same family -- hit me with tons of information in preparation of the world premiere.
Like a Jon Sim slap shot, most of the specs sailed high, wide and over my head. The Cliff Notes: MSG used six cameras, all at or close to ice level. The game was shot using industry leader 3ality Digital's image-capturing technology, which "integrates with existing broadcast equipment for pixel-perfect 3D imagery." (See what I mean?)
What I can tell you is the debut of hockey in 3D was a success. For starters, it actually worked. The image on the 32x18 foot screen at the MSG theatre was crisp. Everyone from David Lee of the Knicks to D'Brickashaw Ferguson of the Jets to Peter Criss of Kiss and Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad put on their geeky 3D glasses and didn't want to take them off. Except for maybe when Sports Illustrated swimsuits models Jessica White, Irina Shayk and Dominique Piek walked to their seats.
The bottom line: if 3D TVs were more readily available, if I had the room in my house and if I had the cash, I would join the 3D movement.
Before the game, the participants were curious about the latest craze.
"I spoke with some of the camera guys when they were setting up," said Islanders goaltender Martin Biron. "I think it's pretty fascinating. From what I hear, in 10 years you won't even need glasses to watch the 3D at home. I'm the backup goalie tonight, so I'll make the most of it. It will be cool to watch how they maneuver those cameras."
"My experience with 3D is from watching Avatar," said Islanders second-year center Josh Bailey. "I wonder how it's going to look."
For starters, the view was spectacular.