The league said it best: NHL takes hockey off the ice to the streets.
On Tuesday, the NHL announced the launch of its “NHL Street” initiative, a program that aims to make ball hockey fun and affordable for the next generation of fans in all communities by making the game culturally relevant once again.
The program draws cues from the NFL’s “NFL Flag” initiative, which saw the league create the largest recreational soccer league in the United States for children ages 3 to 17 in 1994 as a way to provide young adults with a physical outlet that could foster a love for the sport at their age. early.
With today’s news, it’s clear that the NHL is hoping for something similar.
Following the initial launch of the NHL Street 2022 NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas just over three weeks ago, which provided children ages 8 to 12 with the opportunity to participate in a number of fun ball hockey activities, the league hopes to expand The program in the coming years is to serve children aged 5-17, with a particular focus on non-traditional hockey markets.
“We want to create good memories,” Andrew Ference, the NHL’s director of social impact, growth and fan development, said at the All-Star Game earlier this month.
“We don’t need to create a whole group of next NHLers. It might happen naturally on its own, but we just want to [to] Create really fun times and memories with hockey.”
With the cost of ice hockey equipment and rink rentals at an all-time high, the NHL is striving to make street hockey an affordable and accessible entry point for young fans who have encountered barriers on their way to the sport.
NHL Street will be featured prominently in a number of upcoming events on the NHL calendar, starting with the Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series in Nashville between the Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning this coming Saturday, and in the NHL’s 2022 Entry Draft scheduled for Montreal in July.
If all goes according to plan, NHL Street will begin playing the league this summer, with youth sports trial company RCX Sports, which also works with the NFL and MLB, providing support by helping to market the program, organizing tournaments and events, and providing members with uniforms and equipment.
When all you need is a stick, a ball and some friends, street hockey can become the best way for potential fans to fall in love with hockey at a young age.