On Thursday, the NHL announced that it would introduce a new rule requiring all teams to provide an audio clip for any player who wants to receive a pre-game speech.
The rule would also apply to coaches, referees and players.
The NHL also plans to increase the number of pre-match speeches from one a game to two.
The announcement came after the league announced in November that it had reached a deal with Microsoft to add the audio clip feature.
“As we continue to improve our fan experience, we want our fans to hear from the best, most passionate fans in the world,” said NHL President and CEO Brian Burke.
“We’ve heard from many fans who have requested a pregame speech to share their enthusiasm for their team and how they want to experience the game on a personal level.
We’re excited to roll out this new rule and expand on what’s already been an exciting year for the game of hockey.”
The NHLPA, however, was not pleased with the announcement.
“The NHL is trying to force the fans to listen to its games on demand with a new ‘speech-like’ audio system that is going to put fans at risk,” said union president Mike O’Shea.
“Our players will be in the position of telling people they can’t hear them because the microphone is not working.”
“We believe this is an unnecessary restriction that has no place in a business where we can deliver high-quality, engaging entertainment for our fans,” he continued.
The announcement was made at the conclusion of the NHLPA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, where members discussed the league’s plans for the future.
There are many aspects of the new rule, but the most notable is that it will require teams to include a speech video for every player in the lineup, with audio provided by a partner.
However, there is still the matter of the pre-recorded speech.
While some may be surprised that this rule has been put into place, Burke said in November of last year that there would be an option to allow pre-playoff speeches.
When the new pre-speech rule went into effect in November, it required teams to “add a prerecorded video to the game prior to each game, and include an audio component for each pregame, pregame video and pregame scorecard,” Burke explained.
“The video should be accessible for viewing on the NHL app, or streamed on the internet to fans in their seats during a game.”
It’s unclear how the new policy will impact pre-round speeches for the next two seasons, as the NHL is expected to announce its own speech plan next month.
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