Biggest Changes Coming to the NHL, Fans, and Players in the Coming Years

The NHL continues to develop as a league, and experience for the fans, and even in the way the players perform within the boundaries of the rink.

Perhaps one of the most ambitious and embracing of change, the NHL was the first league to have the mettle to bring professional sports to Las Vegas, with the Vegas Golden Knights proving to be a monumental success both in league standing and as a part of the sports-loving community of Nevada.

Now, we look to how the NHL experience is going to continue to evolve over the next few years, from grand new additions to new ways for fans to interact with their favorite sport.

Another highly-anticipated expansion

Following the tremendous success of the Vegas Golden Knights, and the lack of symmetry the one-team expansion caused, introducing another team was all but inevitable. There will be a Seattle-based franchise, with the NHL expansion team currently working hard to establish a logo and team name.

With the construction phase of New Arena at Seattle Center getting underway in January, the NHL’s 32nd team says that it’s waiting for the time to be right before they make their grand reveals, but that it knows the community is very excited for the announcements. During the lockdown, before even dropping the puck for the first time, NHL Seattle and Oak View Group donated $1 million to the expanded grocery voucher program and non-profit organizations in Seattle that were also forced to close their doors.

The group behind the expansion team is already embedding itself within the Seattle community, so expect games taking place in the new Seattle hockey stadium to be bustling with excited fans. Earning the love of the fans early on is one of the reasons why the Golden Knights have been so successful, so could we see a similar level of success from Seattle after they’ve created their team from the 2021 Expansion Draft?

America is changing for sports fans

While the United States has prided itself on its establishment of many of the biggest sports leagues in the world, the fan experience across the country has been very different from sports fandom elsewhere in the world. Particularly across Europe, sports betting is commonplace among fans, to the point where having a bet on a game is considered to be a part of the experience.

Now, still in the relatively early stages of change, there are 17 full-scale legalized sports betting scenes in states across the country. Five more are expected to follow suit soon, with bills being passed in Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, and DC. All five of those states boast, or will soon boast, NHL teams (Seattle, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals), meaning that sports betting could be available in even more hockey communities soon.

 

Although the scene is quite young in the US, plenty of seasoned international brands have already crossed the Atlantic to offer a proven platform for sports betting. The William Hill hockey odds cover a diverse range of markets, including outright bets on conferences and the Stanley Cup, props, handicaps, and under-overs. So, hockey fans can enjoy further engagement with all aspects of the sport by backing their knowledge and predictions.

New rules and technologies for the NHL

The offside rule has been a point of contention for many, with the lack of clarity on what is ruled offside, propelling a great deal of discussion. Earlier this year, NHL general managers met to propose a change to the rule, agreeing that it’d be best to have the law apply to any player breaking the plane of the blueline, as opposed to them also needing their skate to be on the ice.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has already planned to put improvements in place regarding offside calls. He intended on having player and puck tracking technology in place at all 16 playoff arenas in time for the 2020 postseason. This would have then become a league-wide application, with all 31 arenas using the technology in the 2020/21 season. He has also planned on cracking down on dangerous fouls, like crosschecking.

Hockey continues to evolve, with the NHL looking to improve its practices, expand to another community, and there being a new way for fans across to interact with the sport.