WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 29: Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his goal with teammates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Capital One Arena on November 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The NHL hasn’t been as quick to adapt to the esports phenomenon as the NFL has with Madden or the NBA with NBA2k, but the Washington Capitals are taking the first step. The organization has created a gaming branch for the brand called Caps Gaming and have signed John “JohnWayne” Casagranda as their first ambassador.

JohnWayne was the runner up at the second annual NHL Gaming World Championship held this past June. He’s the first esports pro to be signed by an NHL team and will be streaming regularly on the Caps Gaming Twitch channel up through June of 2020. In addition to signing JohnWayne, Caps Gaming will also be hosting a showcase event to bring visibility for the hockey esports scene. The Caps Gaming Showcase is a 32-team, 6v6 EA Sports NHL competition on Xbox One that will start in early December 2020. The competition will consist of an 8 week regular season at the end of which the top 16 teams will most into the play offs. The play offs are a single elimination tournament and the top four teams will eventually meet in Washington DC for the finals where they’ll be playing for a prize pool of $15,000.

Our Thoughts: There’s always been a crossover between traditional sports and esports, but none as pronounced as the actual esports of traditional sports. Madden has been a mainstay in the gaming community and on college campus’ since as far back as I can remember. In recent years the NBA has brought a lot of resources and spotlight to their NBA2k league. The NHL on the other hand has lagged behind but better late than never right? The only real concern I have given that it’s taken this long for one team to get interested is if they can actually fill out a 32 team tournament of 6 players each. Even the NBA2k League which is 5 v 5 only has 21 teams competing. I wish all the best for Caps Gaming and would love to see them succeed, but I’m afraid this venture may stumble a bit before it finds its legs.