Hockey fandom is evolving. Never before have fantasy leagues, digital spaces, and e-sports been as popular, including with NHL and hockey fans as today.
Montreal web3 startup Lipsweater is hoping to take hockey to yet another space, the metaverse. Lipsweater, whose CEO Thomas Sychterz was a NCAA goaltender with Princeton, will soon be selling hockey themed non-fungible tokens (NFT), and has their sights set on one day owning an NHL franchise. More immediately, they’ll be running a junior hockey franchise through a digital community.
Lipsweater has attracted interest from a group of 35 past and present NHL players, including Columbus Blue Jackets players Jake Bean and Alexandre Carrier, Eric Robinson of the Nashville Predators, and Colorado Avalanche forward Nic Aube-Kubel.
The company stated that “the long-term objective for the Lipsweater NFT community is to work up the ranks to become part-owners of an NHL team.”
The NHL itself has started to dip into the NFT world, with Matthew Tkachuk becoming the first NHL player in 2021 to have an NFT of his own created and sold with proceeds going to charity. He was quickly followed by Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, and The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky. NFT’s are unique pieces of digital data, often in the form of art, photos, music, or other collectibles.
The NBA took a larger step into digital collectibles launching an NFT store known as NBA Top Shots. The NBA’s collection includes owning “moments,” which are unique video highlights from the NBA which cannot be duplicated.
In the hockey world, Lipsweater is not only offering NFT data and tokens, they’re also attempting something no other NFT company has done, to bridge a digital NFT community with a physical hockey club.
To achieve this, and step toward future hockey ownership, Lipsweater founder Thomas Sychterz bought a stake in the Greater Metro Junior Hockey League’s Plattsville Lakers. The Lipsweater NFT community will participate in the management of the hockey team as the first HockeyDAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).
Lipsweater is joining former Boston Bruins forward and 31st overall selection of the New York Islanders, Jeff Zehr as the ownership group of the Lakers.
“I’ve followed the NFT space for a while and I’m excited to extend our community by partnering with Lipsweater and the thousands of hockey fans around the globe,” Zehr said. “Sharing the adventure of managing a Junior A hockey team is revolutionary in the hockey space, and I’m proud that our Lakers will be paving the way.”
The HockeyDAO will allow NFT members to submit ideas and vote on the actions actually taken by the hockey club.
According to Lipsweater’s press release, “Members will learn how the management of a junior hockey team works from the inside. They will get behind-the-scenes information, give regular input on certain operational and hockey decisions, help scout new players and prospects, help find sponsors, design and sell merchandise, raise funds, and more.”
As Sychterz says, it’s an opportunity for those who have dreamed to be involved in the management of a hockey team, or have enjoyed that digital space through gaming, to actually be involved.
“What hockey kid hasn’t daydreamed about calling the shots, making a difference, guiding your team to that glorious championship?” said Sychterz “I get goosebumps just thinking about it. This is “Franchise mode” that hockey video games offer, but in real life.”