NHL goal is to recruit Latino hockey fans and grow the game 

During hot summers in Phoenix, the former Ozzie Ice rinks, now a rock-climbing gym, were an unlikely spot for hockey dreams. Sean Whyte, recalling his time there, witnessed the passion of Auston Matthews, now a star in Toronto, who defied the desert odds.

Matthews, a top NHL draft pick, showcases hockey’s potential even in non-traditional markets like Arizona. The league aims to tap into the growing Hispanic demographic, often overlooked but with significant economic influence. While only a small percentage of Hispanic males currently follow the NHL, the league’s strategic efforts, including Spanish-language broadcasts and community engagement, aim to change that.

Teams like the Kings and Ducks actively reach out to the Latino community through various programs, resulting in a notable increase in Latino fan base. Matthews’ success and heritage resonate particularly well in this initiative, offering representation and inspiration to potential fans.

Despite hockey’s historical association with affluent, predominantly white communities, efforts to diversify the sport are underway. The NHL invests in programs to make hockey more accessible, especially to underserved communities where the sport remains unfamiliar or financially burdensome.

Beyond business considerations, fostering diversity in hockey reflects a broader cultural shift and offers the potential for future stars to emerge from unexpected places, echoing the impact of Latin American players in baseball. The vision is to make hockey a sport for everyone, transcending cultural and economic barriers.

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