This past week, Snoop Dogg confirmed that he is part of a group of bidders seeking to purchase the Ottawa Senators. Further, he intends to grow the game of hockey by providing opportunities to kids who otherwise would not have the chance to play.
In November 2022, it was announced that the Melnyk family had plans to sell the Ottawa Senators. Seven groups have since placed bids to purchase the team. The most notable of these is the Remington Group, which includes actor Ryan Reynolds and is backed by Christopher Bratty, a real estate mogul.
Another group that had placed a bid is led by Neko Sparks. On May 1, reports surfaced that the rapper Snoop Dogg had joined the group with the intention of being a part owner. Snoop Dogg confirmed these reports in an interview with The Athletic. Regarding his interest in ownership of the team, Snoop said, “This ain’t no joke or gimmick. Or an image or likeness play. This is a real ownership play. And Snoop will put his foot in the town.”
Snoop cites his interest in Marcel Dionne and the Los Angeles Kings of the 1980s as the start of his hockey fandom. He further touched on his experience meeting Bobby Orr and his relationship with Ray Emery as important moments that influenced his decision to join the bid. He still owns the Senators jersey Emery gave him in 2007, which helps him feel a connection to the city.
Snoop hopes to turn the team around to bring the city a championship. He plans to take a “community activist” role within the community to build relationships between ownership and the fanbase.
Snoop’s community outreach plan does not stop with Ottawa or the Senators organization. In an interview with First Take Tuesday, he discussed plans to start a “Snoop youth hockey league” in urban communities outside of Canada to help teach the game to kids who would not otherwise have the option to play. Specifically, he stated that nowadays he sees “more and more kids that look like [him] play the game, but [he’s] not seeing it being offered to the kids over here in America.” Snoop thinks it is important to help kids who come from these neighborhoods have an option to play hockey, which will both help the communities where the league is established and expose a new group of kids to hockey. He points to the success of the Snoop Youth Football League and the impact it has had on kids in these communities to this point, even producing the second-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, C.J. Stroud. The addition of another youth sports league will just open up more opportunities for kids in the affected communities to succeed.
Owning the Senators is not a requirement for Snoop to establish these leagues, but it certainly allows for a connection to the NHL that could help foster growth for the initiative. It allows kids to connect with and learn from professional players who can act as idols for them.
Growing the game to diverse communities can better the sport of hockey outside of just growing the game, according to Snoop Dogg. He discussed how the NHL stumbled a bit regarding a number of social issues it faced over the past few years, and he emphasized the importance of having owners that represent diverse communities sit at the table in order to better equip the league to handle such social issues. The group Neko Sparks has assembled would be one of the most diverse groups to own an NHL franchise. To Snoop Dogg’s point, having such a diverse ownership group would allow for the NHL Board of Governors to have minority voices present when discussing things like DEI issues and social justice initiatives.
As the sale of the Senators moves forward, we will see if Snoop Dogg and the others in the Neko Sparks group are successful in their ownership bid. While all seven ownership groups look to make the organization successful, Snoop Dogg looks to grow the game and help local communities. Neko Sparks’s group winning the bid may just be the best thing for the sport of hockey.
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[Photo] “Snoop Dogg 2008” by Ceedub13 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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