👋 Good morning! Juan Soto!!! Playoff baseball is the greatest.
🏒 Special edition: Welcome to the only 2019-20 NHL season preview you'll ever need. Hope you enjoy it. Tonight's slate:
Today's word count: 1,949 words (7 minutes)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Hockey players are taught from an early age that the name on the front means more than the name on the back, and that mindset remains firmly entrenched at the sport's highest level.
Yes, but: In 2016, a study showed that the average age of NHL fans had risen 16 years between 2000 and 2016 — the biggest increase of any sport and an obvious indicator of stagnation.
Why it matters: Selling individuals while not straying too far from hockey's team-first culture is easier said than done, but the NHL must rise to the challenge if it wants to attract the next generation of fans.
"You're starting to see guys be promoted a little more, and it's nice because then you get to see some individual personalities come out, and in a sport where you're so often wearing helmets ... people don't get to relate to you face-to-face."— Senators RW Bobby Ryan, per AP
Driving the news: Last week, the NHL announced a partnership with social media marketing platform Opendorse to help players build their personal brands and increase fan engagement.
The big picture: Like baseball, hockey is a regional sport at its core — and that comes with limitations.
The bottom line: The team-first sport of hockey was not built for a world where sports fans are increasingly following superstars over teams, but that doesn't mean it can't adapt and thrive in it.
4 months ago, the St. Louis Blues raised the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. Here's a quick recap of everything that's happened since.
One question for every team, per SI:
2-way forwards, Ryan O'Reilly (Blues) and Patrice Bergeron (Bruins) during the Stanley Cup Final. Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
"Nine years ago, when EA Sports released the latest installment of its hockey video game, NHL 11, Jonathan Toews graced the cover of the North American edition," writes SI's Alex Hewitt.
Connor McDavid facing off against Nathan MacKinnon. Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
Rankings via FantasyPros:
Top 10 overall:
Top 10 by position:
20 years ago today, the Atlanta Thrashers played their very first regular-season game, a 4-1 loss to the visiting Devils at Philips Arena (now State Farm Arena).
The big picture: The NHL added 2 more teams the following season — the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild — and stayed at 30 teams for the next 17 seasons before adding the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017.
What's next: Not enough expansion and relocation for you? Good, because Seattle has been approved as the league's 32nd franchise and begins play in 2021. Here's the latest on that.
Question: 6 different franchises have hoisted the Stanley Cup at least once this decade. Can you name all 6?
Answer at the bottom.
Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin will become just the 8th player in NHL history to reach 700 goals if he scores 42 this year — something he has accomplished in 10 of his 13 full seasons.
Joe Thornton, back with the Sharks at age 40, needs 22 points to become the 14th player in NHL history to reach 1,500. For reference, he had 51 points last season (16 G, 35 A).
Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, 42, is the NHL's oldest active player and its longest-tenured captain (2006-present). He's also just 15 games away from becoming the 21st player in history to play in 1,500 of them.
With 1 more victory, Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist will become just the 6th goalie in NHL history to reach 450 wins, joining Curtis Joseph (454), Ed Belfour (484), Roberto Luongo (489), Patrick Roy (551) and Martin Brodeur (691).
Joel Quenneville went 890-532-137 (with 77 ties) with the Blues, Avalanche and Blackhawks. The 61-year-old is now with the Panthers and needs 10 more wins to join Scotty Bowman (1,244) as the only coaches in NHL history with at least 900.
Laila Anderson, the 11-year-old girl with a rare auto-immune disease who inspired the Blues during their Stanley Cup run, got her very own championship ring yesterday. Sports, man.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "October's gonna be awesome" Baker
Trivia answer: Blues (2019), Capitals (2018), Penguins (2017, 2016), Blackhawks (2015, 2013, 2010), Kings (2014, 2012), Bruins (2011)