NHL Announces Its Inaugural Stanley Pup Game · The Wildest

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Introducing the Stanley Pup: The NHL’s Answer to the Puppy Bowl for Dog-Loving Hockey Fans

This showdown between rescue dogs puts the need for adoption at center ice.

by Sean Zucker
May 28, 2024
Stanley Pup
Photo: NHL

Countless storylines have emerged as we've plunged through the NHL conference finals. The Rangers are attempting to become the first Presidents’ Trophy winner in over a decade to win the Stanley Cup. The Florida Panthers, the team on the other side of the East, are still trying to win their first-ever Stanley Cup. Dallas is hoping to avenge its loss in the West Finals last year. And Edmonton’s Connor McDavid wants to solidify his legacy after winning three Hart Trophies but never the championship. But these narratives all pale in comparison to the NHL’s most exciting development in these Stanley Cup Playoffs: the inaugural Stanley Pup game.

The event is currently scheduled to broadcast to fans in the U.S. on Friday, June 7, at 8 p.m. EST on the NHL Network and ESPN+. Canadian lovers of puck and pups can catch the game on the country’s Sportsnet the following day at 6:30 p.m. EST. These times are subject to change depending on the official Stanley Cup Finals schedule once the full slate of conference games are decided.

The NHL’s version of the Puppy Bowl

Last week, the NHL announced the new game in partnership with Petco Love, a nonprofit organization that works to promote pet adoption and better animal welfare. Like its football counterpart, the annual Puppy Bowl, The Stanley Pup will feature adoptable rescue dogs cuddling it out on television with the dual goal of finding the net and loving families.

We can only hope this new event will match the Puppy Bowl’s 100 percent adoption rate. The competing pups will be supplied by Petco Love through various shelters they’ve teamed up with nationwide. A full roster of participants has yet to be announced but a few pups with delightfully hockey-inspired names have been teased: Nathan McKibble, Joe Pawvelski, and Alexander O-fetch-kin.

“We are honored that the NHL will spotlight these all-star pups,” Petco Love President Susanne Kogut said in a statement released by the NHL. “Everyone can be a champion in the life of a pet. When you adopt a pet from your local shelter, everyone wins!”

While the exact number of dogs has yet to be announced, at least 32 will be present and available for adoption, as every NHL team is meant to be represented by one pup. Thanks to Petco Love’s coast-to-coast shelter hookups, many will be up for adoption from a group in their respective city, as well.

Emmy-nominated producer and longtime animal advocate Michael Levitt created the program after his previous rescue-focused efforts, such as American Rescue Dog Show, Fox’s Cause for Paws, and All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration. He’ll be producing alongside Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer and Matt Nicholson, NHL vice president of production and creative development.

“I’m so proud to launch this canine sporting spectacular with the NHL and so grateful for their passion in supporting adoption. The show is sure to be the biggest night of the year for dog-loving hockey fans,” Levitt added in the statement. “The cuteness overload is going to be off the charts! I can’t wait to show viewers how special rescue dogs are and how profoundly they enhance our lives when we welcome them into our families.” 

What to expect from the Stanley Pup Cup

During the show’s hour-long runtime, a few animal-loving celebrities are expected to make an appearance including Kristin Chenoweth, Mickey Guyton, and Miranda Lambert. Additionally, 16 rescue pups representing each team that made the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs will drop paws in a skills competition with commentary and play-by-play announced by Akbar Gbajabiamila of American Ninja Warrior and Mark Shunock of Top Rank Boxing. Of course, the NHL Network’s Alexa Landestoy will also be reporting rinkside with her professional hockey analysis.

“At the NHL, we love supporting great causes and the opportunity to produce a program that finds homes for rescue dogs is so fulfilling,” Mayer said in the statement. “The show promises to be great fun and we can’t wait for our participating puppies Nathan McKibble, Joe Pawvelski, Alexander O-fetch-kin, and many more to hit our Stanley Pup rink.” 

Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.

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