NHL Pairs This Year's Championships With The First-Ever 'Stanley Pup'

The NHL is set to celebrate the playoff season with a new tradition: the Stanley Pup.

The hockey league is partnering with the nonprofit Petco Love to air the one-hour special next month, when some very talented ice dogs will get a chance to rollick around the rink.

Each of the NHL’s 32 teams will have its own canine representative, but only the pups representing the 16 Stanley Cup Playoff contenders will get a chance to show off their skills.

Many of the hockey hounds hitting the ice will also be available for adoption from shelters or rescue groups in their respective cities.

The special is expected to feature appearances from famous dog lovers like actor Kristin Chenoweth and musicians Mickey Guyton and Miranda Lambert. “The Talk” co-host Akbar Gbajabiamila and “Top Rank Boxing” host Mark Shunock are set to provide play-by-play commentary, and NHL Network commentator Alexa Landestoy will be rinkside.

Next month, ESPN and NHL Network will air the first ever
Next month, ESPN and NHL Network will air the first ever "Stanley Pup." Jess Rapfogel/NHL

“At the NHL, we love supporting great causes and the opportunity to produce a program that finds homes for rescue dogs is so fulfilling,” said NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer in a 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 hit our Stanley Pup rink,” Mayer said, in a nod to some of the league’s top stars.

Creator and producer Michael Levitt promised plenty of adorable moments from the four-legged all-stars.

“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,” he said.

The event seems at least partly inspired by football’s annual Puppy Bowl, which was initially designed as counterprogramming to the NFL’s Super Bowl when it debuted in 2005.

It’s since become a big-game tradition, and last year 13.2 million people tuned in to see puppies growl up the gridiron.

The inaugural Stanley Pup will air on June 7 at 8 p.m. EST on NHL Network and ESPN+.

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