ESPN and the NHL have recently announced a new 7-year television deal that returns hockey to ESPN platforms for the first time since 2004. The agreement includes the rights of four of the next seven Stanley Cups to ABC, one conference final each year, 25 regular-season games, and multiple early-round playoff games, all on ESPN. With ESPN+ blowing up, the NHL sees the potential in this deal and is taking a significant step to try and grow the game of hockey, but many fans are still wondering what’s next?
Hockey is one of the more exciting sports globally because of how fast the game’s speed is. The NHL talent is at an all-time high with long-time superstars in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin and young players with the potential to be some of the greatest hockey players ever in Connor McDavid and Nathan Mackinnon. There isn’t much more that can happen on the ice to attract new fans, so what can the NHL do to take that next step to succeed off the ice?
The clips that consistently go viral from the NHL are highlight-reel goals. Scoring a goal is exciting and arguably the most significant moment in hockey, especially in front of a sold-out crowd at the home team’s arena. They light the lamp, the fans scream, the goal horn is blaring, and the team’s signature goal song starts bumping. Iconic replays are born from these moments.
What if the NHL took a page out of MLB’s book and put a little spin on the walk-up song? Instead of just having one song for each NHL team, each player would choose their own to play after they score on home ice.
Music has been seen to truly unite fans even through sport from the St. Louis Blues 2019 Stanley Cup run. As a Bruins fan, the sound of the song Gloria to this day gives me chills. There is no question about it, that song has real estate in my head, but it just proves that it worked. It felt as if my entire Twitter timeline was filled with that song after every Blues win during those playoffs, and that’s how it should be. Just one song brought a tremendous amount of excitement and tradition to a championship run that will be forever etched in history.
See also the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have a cannon they fire off after every goal. This quickly became a focal point of their television broadcast and an attraction to fans inside the stadium.
There is no question that the growth potential is there. The partnerships that could be formed between players and artists would be a win-win for both sides. With fans’ connection and promoting one another, it would seem like a simple no-brainer for some players with big-time brands in the NHL. When thinking about an example of this in real life, I immediately thought of my favorite team and the opportunities that could come about in Boston.
The Bruins recently defeated the Flyers at the NHL Lake Tahoe game. In a post-game interview, David Pastrňák seemed upset he couldn’t dance to “Barbie Girl” with the boys after a big W as he was pulled from the Bruins celebration. The clip of Pasta in the pink sunglasses was an instant viral clip and got a ton of views on all platforms.
Now, imagine a post-covid world where David Pastrňák cranks an absolute missile, top cheese, in a big-time playoff game, in front of a sold-out TD Garden crowd… and then Barbie Girl starts bumping. I mean, not only do I think that would be electric as a member of the crowd but how rattled is the opposing team going to get, especially the goalie.
Of course, players could change their song whenever they would like because hopefully, goal songs will get old depending on how frequently a player scores. When asked about what song I would choose, the answer was quite simple to me. “She Wolf” by Shakira would be an all-time goal song that would get the barn rocking when it plays. Along with the opportunity to potentially partner with the lovely Shakira would be an offer impossible to turn down.
The NHL needs a significant new attraction to headline their movement from NBC to ESPN. With the introduction of personal goal songs, the opportunity for hockey growth through music and specific artists could be earth-shattering. Gary Bettman, if you are somehow reading this article, all I got left to say is why not do it?