The National Hockey League has big NFT plans, and it’s ready to share most of them with the whole world.
The NHL, along with its Alumni Association and Players’ Association, announced on Thursday that it has teamed up with NFT platform Sweet to create a unique NFT marketplace and collections of NFTs, which are unique blockchain tokens that show ownership.
In an interview with Decrypt, David Lehanski, the league’s executive vice president of business development and innovation, said that the NHL’s marketplace will be somewhere between a full-fledged NFT trading platform and a site that gives out NFT drops for a limited time.
The NHL wants to give fans a little bit of both by building an NFT marketplace with exclusive drops. The NHL’s Sweet marketplace should be up and running by October, just in time for the 2022-2023 season.
But there’s also a bit of gaming going on here. Lehanski told Decrypt that the NHL wants to make NFTs more like games by adding “questing and collecting” features so that fans will be interested and can get perks like other NFTs.
Some NFTs will also be dynamic and change over time based on how well a player does. A statement says that NFTs will also include “cinematic game highlights from past and present NHL seasons” and “surprise packs” of NFTs that can be seen in “3D interactive trophy rooms.”
Lehanski said that the NHL wasn’t ready to say which blockchain it would be building on. But if Sweet’s products are any indication, it could be on Polygon or Tezos.
“We’re looking at everything,” Lehanski said, adding that the NHL’s top priorities when choosing a blockchain are “low gas fees” and “environmental sustainability.”
It’s important to note that the NHL is one of the last major professional sports leagues to get into NFTs. The NBA, with its Top Shot NFTs, the NFL, with its “play and own” NFT game, and the MLB, with its upcoming NFT game, have already made moves in this direction.
“There was definitely a lot of appeal to moving very quickly, but we thought that was a little short-sighted,” Lehanski said of the NHL’s approach to NFTs. He also said that, in his opinion, it was worth taking the time to study metrics like fan behavior. “NFTs can be useful and interesting to fans for a long time, especially when it comes to digital collectibles and games.”
But Tom Mizzone said that the NHL’s NFTs won’t just be for NHL fans who are new to crypto. Experienced NFT collectors will also be able to take part in a way that feels natural to them.
“It will definitely appeal to that degen culture,” he said, “but not so much that it turns away fans who are just customers.”