Considering the number of stars in NHL coming from Eastern Europe, it is no secret that the National Hockey League has a strong force of support based in Russia and Eastern Europe. Thus this past week saw the NHL signing a multi-year deal with one of Europe’s largest internet providers, Yandex. Yandex will be responsible for streaming all of the regular NHL season games as well as the Stanley Playoff free in Russia. The deal is becoming active in the 2019-20 season which kicks off on the 2nd of October.

Wider Audiences

Leonid Savkov, chief commercial officer at Yandex, was happy to announce this partnership with one of the world’s most significant sports leagues. They are looking forward to working with the NHL to make the games much more accessible to all in Russia and be able to connect the fans with their teams and favourite players. This deal also serves as a brilliant opportunity through which advertising companies will now be able to reach millions of fans watching their favourite hockey teams play.

The NHL is as excited about this deal becoming a reality. David Proper, the executive vice president of international and media strategy for the NHL, said that they consider this deal as a game-changer. Yandex is one of the greatest leaders in the industry in Russia and therefore serves as a brilliant platform to venture into this new market. Both parties are going into the new partnership with full force to be able to deliver engaging content to fans, while they are hoping to be able to reach a wider audience and to expand the interest of the sport.

Live Streaming and Commentary

With the brilliant platform which Yandex offers, viewers will be able to follow the live-action as it happens. They will also be able to react to what happens, to utilize live commentary and emojis. After live streaming, the highlights of each game would be available on watch on-demand. NHL fans will also be able to subscribe to a service which offers notification of when competitions are due to begin. Many Russian stars are returning to the ice for the 2019 season, including some previous Stanley Cup champions. These include Ivan Barbashev, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov.

For the first time in the history of the National Hockey League, Russian fans will now be able to have unlimited access to all the action of which so many Russian players have been part of for a very long time already. This is something that they have been waiting for, and the impact which it will have through gained interest from those who haven’t been exposed much to the sport in the past will be tremendously advantageous for the Hockey League in future.

During early August the NHL visited Martha’s Vineyard to bring the game of hockey to the OB Boogie. This is considered as on the most significant yearly events where black families gather. Some of these children are very familiar with basketball and football but have never held a hockey stick in their hands.

Amidst pouring rain, hundreds of families still showed up inside the tent set at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The reason for their excitement was meeting the National Hockey League’s first black player, Willie O’Ree. The event also allowed children to try their hand at the sport with stickhandling and shooting stations. The NHL brought the incident to the island to introduce the competition to people who have historically been excluded from the game. This is done in cohesion with a drive to expand the interest in the sports league. According to the vice president of the Industry Growth Fund Initiatives at the NHL, Rob Knesaurek, the NHL wants to show people that the league isn’t only inclusive, but also welcoming to new members and interest.

Knesaurek was a former forward involved in Canadian collegiate hockey as well as playing in the Ontario Hockey League for three seasons. He said that hockey should be considered as an open opportunity for all. The sport needs to be diversified, and all are welcome regardless of your background.

The History of the Boogie

According to one of the Boogie organizers, Lori Hall Armstrong, the NHL helped to introduce these kids to the possibility that there are other sports than just the major leagues with which they are familiar with, which offers both player and fan possibilities. The Boogie started six years ago. The event began when parents of New Jersey and New York connected through sororities and colleges to organize a game filled with activities focusing on children. From there on, it grew into being one of the most significant annual events focusing on the well-being of children.

The Crowd at Martha’s Vineyard

The crowd attending this even at Martha’s Vineyard is characterized as predominantly black people from the East Coast to the West Coast and who are in general not only successful but also affluent. They are a crowd who might find a keen interest in the game of hockey and have probably not been exposed much to it in the past. The event was unique in many ways, and all thoroughly enjoyed the fact that it offered some hands-on experience in the game.

These kind of events are brilliant to attract new interest in the sport. I’ve commented that he could see some real talent within some of these kids. Without opportunities where they can try their hand at it, they will never be able to develop their skills. Hence it is vital to find not only support for the sport but also the talent which is lying dormant until discovered.

It was thanks to the performance of Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars goalie that they were able to make the playoffs for last season’s Stanley Cup. Bishop has been the star of the clash, being a Vezina Trophy finalist. Thanks to him, the second-fewest goals in NHL history was scored. Putting them with 200 goals, only behind the New York Islanders’ 191. This is, however, no way to enter a new season and the Dallas Stars need to answer three questions to perform better next time.

How to increase their goal scoring?

The Stars need to improve on their goal-scoring ability. They ranked third from the bottom of the NHL list of goals scored. A position held in a tie with the Arizona Coyotes at 209 goals. Dallas coach, Jim Montgomery admitted to this. He stated that they are aware of the fact that this area in their play needs some significant improvement. He is hopeful that this is however already improving during their last few games. The signing of Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry was done to give this upward trend further momentum. Pavelski scored 38 goals for the San Jose Sharks during the previous season, and Perry made it to 30 goals six times already during his NHL career. The hope is placed on their shoulders to up the Dallas Stars goals.

Will Roope Hintz Fill Up Some Bigger Shoes?

With Mats Zuccarello leaving the Stars for Minnesota Wild and Jason Spezza moving on to Toronto Maple Leafs, Hintz has bigger shoes to fill as forward. The 22-year old joined the Stars late and during his time there managed to get 11 points from 14 games during his time in the second line. Will he be able to step up and fill the gap which Zuccarello and Spezza left?

How Be Will The Lines Structured?

More depth is required to up the scoring on the Dallas side. This might mean that Montgomery will have to break up the magic between Seguin, Benn and Radulov as he did during certain times in the previous season. He might have to put Pavelski in that line, but will he be able to perform like a top forward? Montgomery might structure Radulov, Benn and Pavelski together and then place Seguin in front with Perry and Hintz and hope there will be a new and better bond of chemistry between these lines.

The lines are all dependant on who is playing and who not. Mixing up the tracks is a brilliant opportunity to give all a chance to perform and show what they are capable of. In the end, the Dallas Stars would need to find the best combinations which bring them the magic in-depth, which they need to up their performance.