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The NHL is launching the NFT collection to focus on hockey, following in the footsteps of other leagues like the NBA, NFL, and MLB.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is launching a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace for hockey collectibles. For this initiative, the North American professional hockey league is also enlisting the services of NFT platform Sweet. Pursuant to the partnership between both platforms, Sweet will create a unique NFT marketplace for the NHL, which includes unique gamified NFTs.
Speaking on the initiative, NHL executive vice president of business development and innovation, David Lehanski, said:
“I think it’s fair to say that this is one of the largest licensing deals we’ve done in league history. So, it is very lucrative. And we think that there’s also huge upside going forward.”
Furthermore, Lehanski also provided additional insight into the operational structure and setup of the NFT marketplace. According to him, it will be a cross between a full NFT trading platform and a site offering limited-time NFT drops. This is because the NHL looks to give fans the combined experience of an NFT marketplace with exclusive drops. Expected to go live in October, the NHL-Sweet marketplace will feature digital collectibles of several never-before-issued moments from the league’s upcoming 2022-23 season. These will predominantly take the form of video format and archival moments. NHL fans will be able to trade and collect these NFTs, which will also feature past and present players from the premier hockey league. Some of these players include Wayne Gretzky, Tie Domi, Sidney Crosby, and Mario Lemieux, to name a few.
Lehanski also emphasized the gameplay orientation of the NFT initiative, saying that the NHL intends to gamify the digital assets. Referring to said gaming features as “questing and collecting,” the NHL executive suggested that fans will be rewarded with several perks for engagement. Touching on the idea behind this structure, Lehanski explained:
“Building NFTs and digital collectibles that are really cool, have great design and are scarce and have collectible value is absolutely important.”
The NHL’s executive vice president also delved into the league’s scope for creating such an enabling environment. As he put it:
“We’re also thinking about what’s the utility beyond that and about how [digital collectibles] plug into the broader fan experience and what that means for the NHL.”
Lehanski also revealed that the NHL was still deliberating on the host blockchain for its NFTs. Furthermore, he mentioned low gas fees and environmental sustainability as top priorities for making the blockchain choice.
NHL, Sweet Collaboration Latest in Major US Professional Sporting League Foray into NFT Realm
The NHL and Sweet partnership also entails associated unions of the professional hockey league. These include the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) as well as the NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA).
The NHL’s NFT announcement follows similar ventures by other major sporting leagues in the United States. These include Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL), and National Basketball Association (NBA).