On the draft sidelines, bribing NFTs to lead a junior hockey team

The Bell Center will host the 2022 National Hockey League (NHL) draw on July 7-8, with the local team, the Canadiens, taking the first-ever pick, a first since 1980. Another first will take place during this auction: the broadcast of NFT by young entrepreneurs hoping to one day entrust a community of supporters to manage their own professional hockey team.

Riding on the popularity of swimming pools hockey, electronic sports and technologies related to cryptocurrencies, the fledgling Montreal startup Lipsweater has received approval from the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens to broadcast as part of a podcast that will take place live from the Bell Center during the design of its first non-fungible tokens, or NFT (for “ non-fungible tokens Lipsweater expects to issue just over 300 at this point, out of a few thousand tokens in total. These tokens will take the form of a hockey-themed digital image, but will not be directly associated with the NHL or one of its teams.

Internet users interested in these tokens will have to pay the equivalent of the Ethereum cryptocurrency in an amount ranging from 400 to 2000 US dollars. They will immediately become part of a group that will be invited to join the management of the Plattsville Lakers, a hockey team in the Greater Metro Junior Hockey League, a Toronto developmental league, along with the officially incumbent managers.

Decentralized Organization

This way of involving NFT holders in team hockey decisions makes the Lakers the first “decentralized autonomous organization” in hockey in North America, said Thomas Sychterz, a former American college hockey goalkeeper and founder of Lipsweater. The key word in this sentence is “decentralized”. The concept is closely related to NFTs and Web3, technologies that theoretically promise to entrust the people at the bottom of a company with some of the decision-making.

“By owning an NFT, you have a say in the management of the team,” explains Thomas Sychterz at Task† “We see fans who want to be more involved in the professional sports world. We will probably encounter these kinds of arrangements more and more. †

Lipsweater dreams of implementing such a decentralized management formula within an NHL team. There’s no telling if this will ever happen, though some teams – including the Montreal Canadiens – have begun to take an interest in the NFT phenomenon in recent months.

It is a new way for them to sell or trade digital items in the image of the players or the team, as we have been doing with sports cards for over a century.

A “decentralized autonomous organization” pushes the use of NFTs a little further. Some professional sports leagues elsewhere in the world are a little more advanced in this movement, starting with English football. Welsh team Wrexham AFC, whose history dates back to 1864, was acquired in November 2020 by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. Meanwhile, a movement has sprung up among the team’s supporters to encourage the new owners to relinquish some of the team’s management to them through such a formula.

Skip the craze

We don’t know if the trial will succeed. What we do know is that the concept on the Lipsweater side attracted several dozen active and retired professional hockey players, including Alexandre Carrier and Eric Robinson, of the Nashville Predators, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel, of the Avalanche du Colorado, and Jake Bean of the Columbus blue jackets.

Born on the heels of a resurgence in the popularity of cryptocurrencies, NFTs seem to be a rapidly fading fad these days. According to the specialized analytics platform NonFungible, interest in these digital assets fell by 90% between September 2021 and May 2022.

Thomas Sychterz refuses to bet on the speculative side of technology alone to meddle in the management of a hockey team. “We have a business vision that goes beyond NFTs,” he says. There will be companies that crash with NFTs, but others – like sports teams – will benefit. †

Used as a loyalty tool that brings a team closer to its biggest fans, NFTs could become “the Costco of hockey,” believes the one teaming up with comedian David Beaucage on a hockey podcast called Drette su’l tape

“They will give privileged access to the team that would otherwise be impossible. And if all goes well, the NFTs can be resold to other fans. †

The success of Lipsweater’s NFTs may depend on how well prepared the first entrants are. To do it at the same time as the NHL keeps its own draft seems like a good match.

To be seen in video

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