On the sidelines of the draft, NFTs to buy to manage a junior hockey team

The Bell Center will host the 2022 National Hockey League (NHL) draft on July 7 and 8, where the local team, the Canadiens, will have the very first election, a first election since 1980. Another first will take place during this auction : broadcast of NFT by young entrepreneurs hoping to one day entrust a community of followers to the management of their own professional hockey team.

Horseback riding on the popularity of pools hockey, electronic sports and technologies related to cryptocurrencies, the young Montreal startup Lipsweater has received the agreement from the NHL and Montreal Canadiens to broadcast as part of a podcast that will take place live from the Bell Center during the draft of its first non-fungible tokens or NFT (for ” non-fungible tokens “, in English). Lipsweater expects to issue just over 300 at this time, out of a total of a few thousand tokens. These tokens will take the form of a hockey-themed digital image – but will not be directly related to the NHL or any of the Its team.

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

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, says Thomas Sychterz, a former American college hockey goalie and founder of Lipsweater. The key word in this sentence is “decentralized”. The concept is closely linked to NFTs and Web3, technologies that in theory promise to entrust people at the bottom of a business with some of its decision-making.

“By owning an NFT, you influence the management of the team,” explains Thomas Sychterz at Have to. “We see fans who want to get more involved in the professional sports world. We’ll probably come across this type of event more and more often.”

Lipsweater dreams of implementing this kind of decentralized management within an NHL team. There is no telling whether this will ever happen, although some teams – including the Montreal Canadiens – have begun to take an interest in the NFT phenomenon in recent months.

It’s a new way for them to sell or exchange digital items in the image of the players or the team, as we have been doing for more than a century with sports cards.

A “decentralized autonomous organization” is pushing 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. The Welsh team Wrexham AFC, whose history dates back to 1864, was acquired in November 2020 by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. A movement has since begun among the team’s supporters to encourage the new owners to cede part of the management of the team to them using such a formula.

Skip the fad nose

We do not know if the process will succeed. What we do know is that on Lipsweater’s side, the concept attracted a few dozen active and retired professional hockey players, including Alexandre Carrier and Eric Robinson, from the Nashville Predators, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel, from the Avalanche du Colorado and Jake Bean from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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

Thomas Sychterz refuses solely to bet on the speculative side of technology to interfere in the management of a hockey team. “We have a business vision that extends beyond NFTs,” he says. There will be companies that will go down with NFTs, but others – like sports teams – will benefit from it. »

Used as a loyalty tool that brings a team closer to its biggest fans, NFTs can become “hockey’s Costco”, according to the collaborator with comedian David Beaucage on a hockey podcast called Drette su’l tape.

“They want to give privileged access to the team, which would otherwise be impossible. And if it goes well, the NFTs can be sold on to other fans.”

The success of Lipsweater’s NFTs may well depend on how good the first participants are. Doing so while keeping the NHL its own draft seems like a good fit.

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