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Volume 21 No. 34
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NHL fans to vote on best of social media

The NHL hands out its most important hardware in June, from the Stanley Cup to the annual awards gala that this year takes place June 20 in Las Vegas. Now the league is adding a new set of honors to that list, including Top Player Tweet and Top Player Instagram (see samples below).

It’s part of a new digital effort that the league has launched called the NHL Fan Choice Awards, curating some of the top social media posts shared by players and teams during the season and allowing fans to vote for their favorites.

League staffers helped select 40 of the most popular pieces of content shared by players and teams throughout the season and put them into 10 different categories that range from the Best Player Tweet to the Best Hockey Smile — sans teeth. Each of the league’s 31 teams are purposely represented. The NHL opened voting on the Fan Choice Awards last week and will begin to highlight the winners on their digital platforms starting June 12.

“We wanted to create something that gives more people a chance to get to know the players better and really showcase their personalities,” said David Klatt, NHL senior manager of social media programs and who helped create the awards platform. “We see what players are sharing every day across the league, and honestly, a lot of this stuff made us laugh and is really entertaining.”

The new awards also fit into the league’s enhanced effort to boost its players’ profiles on social media, aiming to both build stars and draw in more fans.

“We want to make sure we’re putting content in front of fans that they might not have seen otherwise,” said Sean Dennison, NHL director of social media.

Dennison said there is a concerted effort from the league’s social media managers to amplify both team and player usage of social media through the league’s main accounts, a message that is being passed down to the team and player level as well with encouragement to create more content.

Lady boss #Halloween

A post shared by Erik Karlsson (@erikkarlsson65) on

“Social media provides a level of access that we don’t necessarily have with our players all the time, outside of the few touchpoints that we have with them at bigger events like the Stanley Cup Final or the All-Star Game,” Dennison said. “Any time that they share content that we think is entertaining, funny, heartwarming, emotional — any feeling really — we want to do our best to distribute and amplify that as much as we can.”

Klatt noted that players and teams have already begun their public campaigns, sharing posts across their social media platforms encouraging fans to vote for them. Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, whose goldendoodle Gustl is nominated for Best Dog, has also been tweeting in an effort to win the award.

“We’ve seen a shift in the number of players who are active on social media, and we’re no longer seeing rookies entering the league who don’t have social media,” Klatt said. “We love to see when players want to have that relationship with fans, so whenever we can do something to amplify that and allow them to have fun with it, we want to do it.”