Hide Techdirt is off for the long weekend! We'll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

NHL Jumps On The Esports Bandwagon With Players Tournament, NHL Channel Broadcast

from the why-the-puck-not? dept

As we’ve been discussing, esports is having something of a moment during the COVID-19 shutdown. While it’s been interesting to see the general uptick in interest for esports globally, it’s been equally interesting to watch professional sporting organizations and leagues, that can longer operate in real life, shift quickly to putting professional players behind gamepads and broadcasting esports matches instead. NASCAR was the first to jump on this and has certainly set the quality standard, but racing was quickly followed by other major professional sports leagues.

And now the NHL is coming online as well. In an announcement, the league said it will be hosting an NHL 20 players tournament featuring players from every team. They even have a major sponsor for it.

“The NHL Player Gaming Challenge presented by Honda will take gaming to another level,” said Chris Golier, vice president of business development and innovation for the NHL, in a news release. “We know how competitive our players are, and coupled with the interaction between players, these series of competitions will be extremely fun to watch.”

One or two players from each of the NHL’s 31 current clubs will participate in the Player Gaming Challenge. And the 50th competitor is another professional athlete, albeit for football instead of hockey: Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson will represent Seattle’s upcoming NHL franchise, which is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season.

Frankly, perhaps the most exciting aspect of this is that the NHL got Honda to sponsor it. The NHL has long lagged the rest of professional sports when it comes to television and advertising revenue. Seeing this get sponsored is a sign that both the league and at least one company see value in the number of eyeballs projected to watch esports hockey. Likewise, that the NHL is getting this tournament broadcast not only on Twitch and YouTube, but also on the NHL’s cable channel and several broadcast partners, will only increase the esports’ exposure.

Games will take place on Thursdays and Sundays over the course of four weeks starting April 30, hosted by Los Angeles Kings commentator Alex Faust. The NHL will livestream every matchup on its Twitch channel and other social platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, and all games will also appear “within NHL Network’s on-air programming,” the league said. In addition, some games will be broadcast in Canada on Sportsnet One (starting May 1 at 4 p.m. ET) and in the U.S. on NBC Sports Network (starting April 30 at 5 p.m. ET). Esports organization ESL Gaming is producing the Player Gaming Challenge, which will be played in the PlayStation 4 version of NHL 20.

It’s true that other leagues did this before the NHL. But it’s still interesting to see how uniform this move has become for pretty much all of professional sports.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: nhl

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “NHL Jumps On The Esports Bandwagon With Players Tournament, NHL Channel Broadcast”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Ehud Gavron (profile) says:


So one day COVID-19 will be history. CDC says not until the Fall of this year, but whatever.

By then we’ll have been enjoying watching class act racers (well except for one), NHL players, etc. We’ll have watched them live… delayed… and sometimes play by play when WE want to, not when directors want to.

Sponsors love it – costs them a lot less
Teams love it – costs them a lot less
Players love it – no pants

I’m not sure everyone will want to get back to "real live sports".

Personally I’m curious to how "professional sports" will be after this virus mess. My hope is some come back … and some don’t. (pick your sport of choice).


MathFox says:

Re: Future

My guess is that all current professional sports will restart and that their e-sports versions will continue too.
There will be a "right-sizing" of the various competitions as the amount of sponsorship, advertising and broadcast money will be redistributed over more sports. And I consider the possibility that at least two athletes consider e-sports the better option, injury-wise.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Future

Probably not. Pro gamers have been given the short end of this stick for a long time – longer than even e-sports being called "arm-chair quarterback."

Stay with me. Don’t run screaming yet.

What if sports were virtual and we still watched them on the same TV with the same sponsors, and some of our favorites were there… and some we don’t know yet were there…

…and we didn’t obliterate the environment to run 200 boring laps around an oval track. It would be about the drivers… car setup… situtational awareness, etc.


Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Future

You’re totally right!!

Cost to attend 1993 Motreal F1 Grand Prix including airfaire, hotel, shuttle (train), helicopter ride (I had to!!), tickets on turn 2 mid-grandstand, sunscreen, water, and food: $3K or so.
Also met Gary Busey on the flight. NO value stated 😉

Cost to attend 1999 CART/Indycar Grand Prix of Cleveland (see above but no Gary Busey) $2.5K.

Cost to attend Long Beach Grand Prix prior to IRL including reserved grandstand, tents with shade, etc. $2K (I live in Arizona so going to Long Beach is not very expensive).

Cost of attending an eSports race – $0. Do I have to play for it days in advance? No. Do I have to have TSA fondle me or the GF? No. Do I have to "breathe a sigh of relief once we’re past Security Theater Checkpoint"? No.

I’m not saying there’s no value to sports. I’m a huge supporter of our local University of Arizona Wildcat Men’s Basketball Team. I love Juan Pablo Montoya and his racing with Chip Ganassi in both CART and NASCAR. I love Paul Tracy and his drives to the top in CART. I love MIchael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, and all the cast of the North Carolina Tarheels who became superstars… then joined the NBA and became wealthy stars.

But at the end of the day (and that’s kind of like right now) if I have a choice in CoronaTimes of spending $3K, flying with other people 0.5 feet apart in an enclosed space, staying in a possibly-contaminated hotel, finding a parking spot (Bwahahahahah), to watch a two hour event OR just watch it on TV and the guys aren’t at risk and I’m not at risk and I"m not spending the cash and they’re not losing the cash and sponsors everywhere are happy… Yeah I like that.

As you said > those are nothing like the same thing.

Tru dat. Maybe for some reasons it’s better than the same thing.

Have a great week,


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Future

"As you said > those are nothing like the same thing."

They’re not, so trying to conflate them is either lying or delusional. They are nothing like equivalent.

There may be valid reasons why you personally believe that e-sports are better than the "real" thing, but that has nothing to do with what you were saying about e-sports being the same as an "armchair quarterback". They are completely different concepts (and indeed is very possible to be an "armchair quarterback" when watching e-sports, if you bother to apply the correct definition of the term.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Future

…either lying or delusional.

PaulT, I get that you want to be argumentative but this isn’t the time for that. So to be clear there’s no lying nor delusion. Just as you couldn’t make "sociopath" stick you can’t make "delusional" stick but if it works for you, go ahead and run with it.

Go read what I wrote. If you don’t understand it, say "Hey what did you mean?" not "They are completely different" (duh) or whatever else hits your fancy.

At this point I think it’s time you ate your Cheerios and got a good start on the day. Adults are talking now, so a big Shhh for you.


Have a great week.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 PaulT crying

"Pretty much everything you wrote is all about you and waahhh!"

No, it’s about you lying about facts in other threads, then being a dickhead when you were informed you didn’t know what the words you used in this thread actually meant.

As we saw in the previous thread, you’re incapable of even addressing the original criticism, you’re again reduced to whining when proven completely wrong about your original statement. A grown man would have said "you’re right, I used the phrase incorrectly", but you’re not mature enough to do that, so you double and triple down until you lost track of the original point entirely.

I look forward to the next tantrum you throw over being proven irrevocably ill informed about the subject you pretend to know anything about.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 PaulT crying

As with other threads where I called him out, he has a flimsy grasp on certain facts and has to fixate on the wrong thing when called out.

I think his original point was that he dislikes the pre-COVID setup of standard sports and hopes that the current switch to e-sports changes that. Nothing wrong with that position. However, he definitely doesn’t understand the term "armchair quarterback", and possibly doesn’t understand the term "e-sports" either (hint: it does not refer to simulations of physical sports).

As with other threads where he’s lost it as soon as someone challenges him for being wrong on a subject, his response to being corrected was not to reconsider his words or clarify a position, but rather to rant about what he thinks is the important thing, rather than the thing being addressed. In this case, he thinks that his opinion on sports is somehow the important thing, and not my pointing out that his use of language was wrong.

It’s sad, he’d get a lot further if he actually read what he was responding to rather than type a load of irrelevant nonsense then whine when someone uses a word he doesn’t like in response, but here we are. Hey, at least he seems to be arguing in what he thinks is good faith, which is sadly something of a refreshing change of pace compared to our usual thread derailers.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 PaulT crying

Keep on going about me instead of the topic. Especially since you like to start paragraphs this way:

As with other threads where I called him out, he …
(topical… nope. About me… yup.)
As with other threads where he’s lost it …
(topical… nope… About me… yup.)

Dude, you should stop discussing me and stick to the topic. Like Mike Masnick says we fight disinformation with other disinformation. It’s not about me, but it certainly can be about what I say.

Sorry you lost it. Have a great week!


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:14 PaulT crying

"Keep on going about me instead of the topic"

Again, the topic was you not understanding the term "armchair quarterback", and possibly not understanding what an esports event is to begin with. You chose to ignore that, instead going on a tangential rant about the cost of sports events, then whining when people further called you out.

Again, I look forward to the next thread, to see the next bout of self-centred stupidity you decide to throw at us instead of admitting you made a mistake.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 PaulT crying some more

I see you’ve changed starting every paragraph from "As with other threads" and now it’s all


It’s not again. It’s not about you crying. It’s not about me. Stick to the topic.

I don’t know what "self-centred[sic]" is and who "us" is, but take the mouse in your pocket and yourself shopping, get an English dictionary, and center yourself accordingly.

Again, [using your style], it’s not about me. There’s a topic here. It has to do with NHL and Esports. You don’t like my opinion. I think everyone gets that.

NHL – Awesome.
Esports – Awesome.
NHL on Esports – Awesome.
Once C19 is over… I would love to see NHL on Esports continue. Costs EVERYONE less; fans get better coverage; no players are injured; nobody worries about filing into a filled arena and social distancing; it’s perfect for a transition period… after which we may not want the original.

Give up your idea that you’re part of an "us" or a "we" or that anyone cares about you discussing me (or that frankly I’m a topic). People are here to discuss THE topic.

Best regards and have a great week, and try not to use those bad words anymore. They make you look weak.


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:16 PaulT crying some more

"It’s not again"

It is, though. You still can’t handle that you got called out for another stupid mistake. You’re doubling, tripling, etc. down instead of admitting you used a term wrongly. Quite pathetic, really.

"It has to do with NHL and Esports"

Yes, and since you reacted like a child to me informing you that you used some terms completely wrongly while talking about them, here we are.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:17 PaulT crying some more

"It’s not again"

It is, though

Lol, you’re the one who keeps using it. Look, I’m going to say what I said last time. First, stick to the topic. I’ve tried to make that message stick, but I admit it doesn’t seem to stick with you.

Second, I asked you to stop with the insults.

…you reacted like a child…
Come on, brother, you can do better.

…used some terms completely wrongly[sic]
I repeat my suggestion you and your dog go buy a dictionary.

Now have a great evening / night / morning / week and peace out.*


  • If you’re not a US citizen and "peace out" confuses you, we have this new thing called "google". Use it. It will probably help your "wrongly" and "centre" and other weird dialectisms.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:18 PaulT crying some more

So, still afraid to admit you were wrong about a simple term. Like I said, childish.

Since you insist upon passive aggressive bullshit, I will provide you with the correct definition of the term you got wrong, so you can at least educate yourself.

armchair quarterback
in American English
or armchair general
a person who is not a quarterback (or general, etc.), but offers opinions and criticism on the performance or decisions of those who are

Please note how that is nothing to do with "esports" in any way, as per your original claim, and how this conversation would have gone very differently if you had the maturity to follow your own advice and admit a mistake.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:18 Time to get over yourself

Dude, this whining is old. Just stop. I let you have the last word but you keep on going like there’s something here, some "nugget" of truth. Sadly you won’t find gold here.

but here we are.

Again with that "we". There is no "we". There is no "us". It’s a stupid argument you refuse to abandon, Captain Ahab.

Time to get a job or go back to high school or whatever it is you do best.


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:19 Time to get over yourself

"Again with that "we". There is no "we". "

Yes there is, there’s at minimum me and nasch mocking you, and I guarantee there’s others having the same reaction reading this thread.

"Sadly you won’t find gold here."

Are you kidding? Your whole game of pretending to be better than everybody else while failing at understanding the basics of the conversation at hand is comedy gold.

"Time to get a job or go back to high school or whatever it is you do best."

I’m working, it’s just fun during the current lockdown to poke fun at someone to even understand why he’s being mocked, despite the fact that it’s been explained several times to you in single syllable words. I can’t help replying every time I see a new email alert come through while waiting for the kettle to boil.

Why don’t you get back to whatever you’re interrupting in order to whine about how funny we’re finding you?

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:20 Time to get over yourself

Still off topic. You’re not "mocking" anyone. You’re attempting to debate. Probably some good coaching would help your skills.

Have a great day!

P.S. stick to the topic. That’s what Internet forums are for… not for "mocking" (lol you can’t do that right) or trolling – you’re doing that right.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:23 Who makes the rules on Internet forums

"Also, yeah, I do get to tell you that an Internet forum is about discussing the topic"

Yes, and as soon as you went on an irrelevant rant in response to me mentioning that you were using your words wrongly, the topic changed from "NHL/eSports" to "laugh at this dickhead". Yet, instead of returning the conversation to the original topic, you’re dead set at prolonging the new one.

"Have a great day!"

As I’ve mentioned many times, we are having a great day, mocking an idiot who for some reason refuses to shut up after being shown to be in the wrong on this discussion.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:24 Who makes the rules on Internet forums

Yes, and as soon as you
It’s not about me. It’s a TD forum.

…you’re dead set…
See above.

As I’ve mentioned …
It’s now about you either. It’s a TD forum.

…mocking an idiot…
You confuse "mocking" with "laughing" and "debating" but at the end of the day end with an ad hominem. It’s not about me, and if you can’t "mock" or "laugh" or "debate" without debasing yourself to do it, you should just do what mom said: Don’t say anything at all.

Have a great weekend,


Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:26 Who makes the rules on Internet forums

…this specific part of the forum is dedicated to laughing at you…
You might want to check the title bar on your browser. It’s about the NHL and Esports, not about me.

I have…
Again, it’s not about you either

…before I do that…
See above.

Really. You don’t have two days, but I appreciate you’ve left off the previous ad hominems. They make you look small.

Keep on laughing! (And have a great weekend!)


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:27 Who makes the rules on Internet forums

"You don’t have two days"

I know that basic phrases and real political motivations are confusing you in these threads, but time is beyond you as well?

It is strange that you insist on constantly replying and giving everyone more comedy material, but if that’s how you choose to pass time in the current situation, so be it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Future

"Just as you couldn’t make "sociopath" stick"

No, it stuck perfectly in the context of that particular conversation – where you demanded that corporate rights to profit overrode the rights of either individuals or their governments to protect individual rights, just so long as they were from your country and used a loophole.

"Go read what I wrote"

I did. You used 2 terms that have completely different meanings and pretended they were the same thing. When challenged you went on a rant that had nothing to do with the second term.

"Adults are talking now"

They are, but you keep interrupting.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...