Latinos have been making considerable strides in the sports world in the United States for decades. Most think of soccer, baseball, and maybe even football when it comes to Latinos in U.S. sports teams. But not hockey — and the National Hockey League is looking to change that.
Though the number of Latino players is small, there have been a few who have seen success in the NHL. Among them, Max Pacioretty from the Vegas Golden Knights, whose mother is Mexican. She grew up in Mexico and knew nothing of ice skating. She encouraged Max to hit the ice when she realized he had a lot of energy as a child. This year Pacioretty helped his team to the Western Conference Finals. Toronto Maple Leaves Center Auston Matthews also has roots in Mexico. “My mom’s side is from Hermosillo. It’s about six hours south of Phoenix. I’ve been there, went there a lot growing up,” he told NHL.com.
Latinos are in the front office as well. Scott Gomez was one of the first Latinos in the NHL and helped the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley cup twice. He went on to coach for the New York Rangers and was named Assistant Coach of the year in 2017. The Arizona Coyotes have seen the first Latino President and CEO in NHL History with Xavier Gutierrez. And in Alex Meruelo, the league saw its first Latino majority owner when he bought the Coyotes in 2019.
While these men are just a few examples, this is all to say that the NHL appears to have seen the massive potential in Latino players and a Latino fan base. Teams like The Los Angeles Kings and The Vegas Golden Knights have started broadcasting select games in Spanish. The Chicago Blackhawks now cast all of their games in Spanish. In 2018 the first-ever Spanish radio broadcast of the Stanley Cup aired thanks to the Knights with both @LosGoldenKnights on Instagram and @LosKVGK on Twitter offering up Spanish-language content for Hispanic fans.
Xavier Guiterrez told ABC News, “I think it’s a sport that’s primed to become a part of the Latino community in the U.S., and it’s important for the NHL to do it.”
To that end, the NHL inked a deal with ESPN to air hockey games once again starting next season. An added benefit of that deal is that the network will broadcast games in Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe during the seven-year agreement.