After the long-running, fan-created #IsItOctoberYet? hockey countdown campaign, the puck has dropped on the new NHL 2014/15 season and that means the league’s partners are rolling out new blockbuster activations.


One thing markedly different about so much of the work from NHL sponsors (particularly in Canada) compared to most activation in the other big North American sports leagues is that it focuses so heavily on local community hockey and the youth game.


From Kraft’s award-winning ‘Hockeyville‘, to Scotiabank’s ‘The 5th Season’, and from Molson Canadian’s #AnythingForHockey to so much of the new NHL broadcast partner Rogers’ work, these NHL partner initiative’s predominantly all revolve around grass roots amateur hockey rather than the superstars of the professional game.


But why?


Well, one reason is that disputes between the billionaire owners and the millionaire players in recent years have meant that NHL strikes are common. So expensive activations based entirely around the pros can grind to a halt during blackouts.


But a more powerful reason is that in Canada hockey is a key part of the country’s culture. The game is woven into the very fabric of the nation. It is not just another form of fast, brutal entertainment, or even something for kids to aspire to, or even simply the national game. It is rather the game that makes the nation. Hockey knits Canadian communities tightly together and it teaches children life skills and values.


Canadian hockey sponsors understand this not because of insight generated from market research, but because they were born into it.


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