he National Hockey League (NHL®) will mark its return to the ice and celebrate the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers™ on Saturday, Aug. 1, with special guest appearances and performances as well as a salute to social justice activists and healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019-20 postseason begins Saturday with a slate of five games, originating from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and Rogers Place in Edmonton. The games will be broadcast worldwide to more than 160 countries and territories through the NHL’s rightsholders, including NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network and NHL.TV™ in the U.S.; Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports in Canada; Viasat in the Nordic Region; Yandex in Russia; and CCTV and Tencent in China.
Throughout opening day, the NHL will pay tribute to those at the forefront of the anti-racism movement and fight against COVID-19.
“The world has changed significantly in the four months since the NHL played its last game,” NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said. “We therefore will raise awareness for the NHL’s support for the Black community while also celebrating the incredible individuals who have worked tirelessly to ensure positive health for those affected by COVID-19. While we will miss having the fans in the arena, we will use Opening Day and future NHL games to bring people together to celebrate our common humanity.”
As part of the NHL’s new League-wide initiative, #WeSkateFor, the NHL and its 32 Member Clubs and players will support, celebrate and honor community heroes, front-line and healthcare workers, and racial justice activists through various local and national programs and activities, including charitable donation drives, social media campaigns using the hashtag #WeSkateFor and pregame acknowledgements.
Players will wear #WeSkateFor Equality helmet decals in support of Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements. In addition, each player received a hoodie to personalize with the name of whom or what he skates for. Starting Aug. 1, the NHL and Fanatics will offer a collection of #WeSkateFor Equality apparel available for purchase at NHLShop.com and NHLShop.ca, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the NHL Foundation. Within each arena, the message #WeSkateFor Black Lives will be displayed on digital screens and seat coverings.
The NHL also will recognize 24 healthcare professionals and other essential workers for their heroism and courage in a virtual pregame ceremony before the Blackhawks–Oilers game and prior to the Canadiens–Penguins puck drop.
Opening Day’s entertainment will include a performance of the Canadian national anthem by GRAMMY Award-winning singer Michael Bublé before the Blackhawks–Oilers and Canadiens-Pittsburgh games. The U.S. national anthem will be performed by NHL team anthem singers.
Inside the NHL Bubble™ Content
During this unprecedented time in NHL history, NHL Original Productions and NHL Social™ will offer fans a glimpse of life inside the Secure Zones for players, coaches, and League and team personnel in Toronto and Edmonton. Thirty teams of content creators – six NHL Studios crews and 24 club social media coordinators and videographers – will capture and distribute short and long-form video for NHL and team social and digital channels, including NHL.com and the NHL’s YouTube, Facebook and IGTV platforms. Inside the NHL Bubble™, Cup Confidential, SC:60 and other original programs will be released daily.
Quest For The Stanley Cup, the critically acclaimed behind-the-scenes documentary series chronicling the teams in the midst of the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, will return this postseason. Air dates, times and its distribution platform will be announced at a later date.