Legendary rapper Snoop Dogg is the latest celebrity who’s shown interest in the sale of the Ottawa Senators, in his case as part of what could reportedly be a diverse ownership group topped by Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Neko Sparks. As his appearance on Tuesday's episode of ESPN’s First Take illustrates, the iconic musician’s vision for growing the demographics of the sport might be the most interesting part.
In speaking with Stephen A. Smith during that appearance, the 51-year-old touched on a possible Snoop Youth Hockey League, following in the footsteps of his Snoop Youth Football League.
Snoop Dogg on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ this morning talking about his interest to purchase the Ottawa Senators. pic.twitter.com/4qg7h98GQ3
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) May 2, 2023
“The kids need to know that there’s an option to play hockey if you look like me,” Snoop Dogg said of a need for the sport to increase participation.
The Athletic’s Ian Mendes laid out how Snoop Dogg could become a presence at Senators games, much like he has with the Los Angeles Kings. Perhaps he could provide play-by-play like he has in the past?
Speaking with Smith about his connection to hockey that goes way back to wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey in the 1994 music video for “Gin and Juice,” Snoop Dogg noted he’s been “rocking this ‘since Moby Dick was a goldfish.’”
One big takeaway from that interview is perhaps his connection with the sport can grow even if Snoop and Sparks’ ownership group ends up falling short.
While there are notes about attending Senators home games, much of Snoop Dogg’s pitch isn’t really specifically Ottawa-related. In fact, his most intriguing idea — the Snoop Youth Hockey League — would operate in the U.S. instead of Canada. While you can point to the sport growing its audience with younger viewers and women, the NHL and other entities have work to do to prove that “Hockey is for Everyone.”
Smith made a strong point that participation is important, and alleviating the costs of playing the sport is an enormous barrier. By some measures, ice hockey can be the most expensive of all kids sports, costing parents more than $2,500 per year.
Whether Snoop Dogg ends up owning a chunk of the Senators or not, it would be game-changing if he or someone else could dramatically increase access for people of all sorts of backgrounds.