The NHL is looking for all teams to actively participate in Esports in 2019.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dropped a few interesting details on the League’s Esports plans in an interview with ESPN. Interestingly enough, even though Bettman wants all of the NHL teams to participate in Esports next year, their plans aren’t as ambitious as other programs like the NBA2K League. The NHL seems to view Esports as a gateway to creating traditional Hockey fans as opposed to cementing a new business model totally in the space.

“We wanted this to be another touch point and another connection to our real game,” Bettman said. “We weren’t looking to start something different. We weren’t looking to start a different league. We wanted to have our fans, who were into esports, to have a way to play our game and connect to our game.”

A soft stance to be sure. While there’s nothing wrong with simply supporting Esports to entertain your current fan base, ignoring the opportunities for a new business all together is strange in the wake of recent moves by the NBA and NFL.

The $100k NHL World Championship 2018 was a success with it’s finals being held at the ESA Arena in Las Vegas and pulling streaming numbers comparable to the NBA2K League.

In 2019 the whole NHL team roster will be supporting the event with an expanded scope to cover local activations (events) and expanding from a 1v1 format to a full 6v6.

We’re looking forward to seeing more.