NHL Business Notebook: What new tricks Zac Bell has planned for 2022-23, plus national TV schedule news, more

“Is Zack Bell on the ice now?”

This has been a common question asked to staff at Carolina Ice Palace – mainly coming from kids ages 8 to 11 – since the 22-year-old posted on social media earlier this week that he was on site in Charleston. , South Carolina, to shoot a hockey-related film.

NHLers David Krigsey And the Tori Krug He trains at the same skating rink most mornings, but Bill is the one who is inundated with requests for selfies as soon as he steps off the ice — and accommodates young fans with a smile and a bruise.

He is South Carolina’s most sought-after hockey celebrity, a mobile hockey phenomenon with a following that has extended beyond the sport.

“It’s something I was really expecting,” Bell says. “It wasn’t a master planner or anything like that.”

Bale’s playing days ended with multiple head injuries in 2019, but his hockey career—a full-time one—is in its prime. in 2020, lean back to hoax platform, Always Hockey, he originally launched in 2014 on Instagram.

“There was a point where I decided to quit (always hockey), and I said, ‘No, I don’t want to be that person. I don’t always want to be hockey. I just want to be Zack Bell.” So I took the time to just play AAA hockey, and go To play junior hockey, I took all my mind off social media. I just felt like I just wanted to be a regular hockey player.

“But that changed and that was taken away from me, so I went back to (Always Hockey) during my darkroom period. And I came home to recuperate, and I just did one video in the corridor, and you know, I did a quick 360, I grabbed the pole, I threw it up, slapped a dick down, and woke up the next morning and it was like our first real real video went viral. We woke up up to 5 million extra (views) on one video on TikTok and on Instagram.”

The clip transcended traditional hockey circles, appearing on news networks in the United States and Canada — including NBC, CNN and Fox — and during a time when COVID-19 dominated the news, Bell’s hoax footage filled a gap in sports coverage.

“There weren’t any professional athletes. There wasn’t anything going on. No. NHL. nothing. Bell says. “So all of a sudden, all eyes were on us.”

Bell has carried his momentum since the reboot of hockey, becoming a success story for the brand and a major face in the sport. He has nearly 850,000 followers tik tok. The Toronto Maple LeafsAnd, for comparison, they have just over 370,000 – and they had TikTok as a helmet sponsor. He also has an autograph wand with Bauer, was part of the NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas in February, and when EA Sports launched its NHL 23 ad campaign, he made a big appearance alongside covered athletes Sara Nurse and Trevor Zegras.

Several NHL teams have contacted Bell about trick displays in their games this season.

Bell takes the recognition as a point of pride, but says it is secondary to the role it could play in developing the game among those who would not have paid attention were it not for the hoax videos.

“Once we let go of the hockey niche and we started getting calls from the major platforms, we just felt like it was more than that,” Bell says. “We’re starting to get opportunities outside of hockey, and we’re really starting to get the attention of an audience and a demographic of people who, frankly, have never seen snow before.”

Bell makes extensive use of the term “we” when discussing his work, which reflects what the Always Hockey game has become. He’s the one doing the trick shots, but now traveling with his close friend Jordan Burnett, he’s a mix of photographer, believer and creator.

“It gets to a point where you can almost feel lonely and lost in your head space, especially when you’re creative,” Bell says. “So it was really nice to have Jordan officially partner on this. Jordan comes in and shows this different perspective, or sees from behind the camera, and adds those little inputs that maybe make the video possible.”

Bell says he’s looking forward to exploring new spaces this season, including more live shows, as well as building on his social media base.

“I think we’re still at the beginning of figuring out all that this could be,” he says.

National TV schedules

ESPN and Turner announced their remaining national schedules Wednesday. The NHL previously announced that the networks will have back-to-back double-headers on October 11 (ESPN) and 12 (TNT). It should be noted that the league season officially begins on October 7 and 8 with matches in Prague, each one at 1 pm ET, between Nashville Predators And the San Jose Sharks.

Turner’s national schedule includes 60 regular season games, primarily on Wednesday evenings, with more doubles matches this season than in 2021-22.

TNT will still own the Winter Classic and pick up the Marquee Black Friday in a deal with ESPN. ESPN will have the Stadium Series after it was on TNT last season. ESPN will continue to hold the All-Star Game and Skill Contest.

As part of a seven-year TV deal, ESPN’s Stanley Cup turned to Turner this season. The networks exchanged coverage of the Stanley Cup Final throughout the duration of the deal, with each receiving one conference final after splitting the first two rounds.

ESPN will broadcast 103 exclusive games across ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, ESPN+, and Hulu. 53 of these games will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ and Hulu.

ESPN’s scheduling has changed slightly from the first year of its seven-year deal with the NHL. After focusing more on ESPN+ and Hulu exclusive broadcast games, there is a higher percentage of linear or traditional games on the agenda this season. ESPN also plans to reduce the overlap of its national games during the regular season, which hurts viewership numbers.

There are two main reasons for this. For starters, Turner ran into the Stanley Cup Final this season after ESPN campaigned him in 2022. When it came to buying ads, boosting inventory elsewhere was important. According to multiple sources, ESPN has also seen better-than-expected returns on the NHL’s out-of-market broadcast package, which moved to the platform from NHL.TV last season. While ESPN+’s exclusive offerings of national games helped boost subscriber numbers, it wasn’t as critical as expected for the network when it came to converting hockey fans into ESPN+ subscribers.

(Photo courtesy of Zack Bell)