In 2015, the Florida Panthers announced a partnership with ESPN Deportes that would broadcast all 41 home games of the 2015-2016 season in Spanish and thus include the radio broadcast into the Florida Panthers Radio Network.
In 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks announced their partnership with Univison Chicago that would broadcast 14 games in Spanish via Univision America (WRTO AM 1200), Chicago’s only Spanish-language, full-service newstalk radio station. This lead to Univison watch parties around the city’s Hispanic neighborhoods.
In 2017, the newest NHL franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, announced that they would pick a game of the week to broadcast in Spanish in their partnership with ESPN Deportes 1460 AM for their inaugural season.
Some teams not mentioned above include the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, who have hosted Hispanic Heritage nights within the last season.
So why are we not seeing other teams following suit? Sure, one can argue that not every state with an NHL team has a large Hispanic population. But what about those that do?
Take New York, for example. New York has a Hispanic population of 3.5 million and counting, but neither the Islanders nor the Rangers have capitalized on that to cater to that market. Even Texas, with the second largest Hispanic population in the United States at 9.3 million, has a minority audience who has yet to hear from the Dallas Stars.
If you want to argue on behalf of the Canadian teams, Ontario has the biggest Hispanic population in Canada, but the Maple Leafs have yet to reach out to them.
When you look at it closely, you see that there are all these opportunities for the game to grow, but the proper efforts are not being put forth. This can be especially frustrating to a Hispanic hockey fan. We need more than just heritage nights and viewing parties. We need community outreach programs, programs that will take hockey equipment and clinics to predominately Hispanic communities. Let the kids know that, yes, people like them can play in the NHL. Just look at Al Montoya, Max Pacioretty, and Alec Martinez.
It may be too late for our parent’s or grandparent’s generation, but not the future ones. There needs to be more representation in this league for those generations to look up and relate to, whether it be players, journalists, analysts, or broadcasters. Even fans want other fans they can relate to.
For a league that preaches “Hockey is For Everyone,” let’s start doing something about it.