When you think of Latinos in American sports you likely think baseball, maybe even boxing. What about hockey? Not really, right? Well, The National Hockey League is looking to change that. The NHL earlier this month inked a deal with ESPN to air hockey games once again starting next season. The sporting channel has been without hockey since 2004. While that is good news for American hockey fans, the bigger headline is the rights to broadcast games in Mexico, Latin America, the Carribean, and parts of Europe during the seven year deal.
With a few exceptions, the NHL has largely underserved the Latino community. There are only a handful of NHL cities that cater to the Spanish-speaking fan. The Las Vegas Golden Knights have Spanish social media channels that offer up content for Hispanic fans. Both @LosGoldenKnights and @LosVGK were introduced in March of 2019.
The Golden Knights also broadcasts games in Spanish, as does the Los Angeles Kings organization. The Kings have gone a bit further and added a Junior Kings hockey program in Mexico City. The Chicago Blackhawks now call each of their home games in Spanish.
But with the first ever Stanley Cup Finals not being called until 2018 (also from the Golden Knights), it’s easy to see that the Latino demographic is largely ignored.
An adjustment the league hopes to make with the new deal. In addition to 25 regular season games airing on ESPN or ABC, more than 1,000 games will be streaming on ESPN+ (12 million subscribers) and HULU (39.4 million subscribers).
The league is hoping to score new fans of the sport next season, and new fans mean potential new players. Currently there are only a handful of Latino players in the league, Matt Nieto with San Jose, Max Pacioretty with Vegas, Evan Rodrigues with Pittsburgh, and Goaltender Al Montoya with New York (first native speaking Spanish player in the league.)