Seth Jones has the talent, charisma and platform to bring thousands of new fans to the NHL, and with Jay-Z's help he could do it.
The hockey phenom has a chance to make history as the first black player to ever be selected No. 1 overall in the 2013 NHL draft (h/t Forbes.com's Chris Smith), and he's being pursued by media mogul and Roc Nation founder Jay-Z, who wants to represent him, per Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post:
The next target for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports banner is potential No. 1 NHL draft pick Seth Jones, according to sources...sources said Jay-Z’s organization wants to strike a deal to be involved in the star’s marketing and branding...
If Forbes thinks someone might have a chance to become a crossover star in the NHL, then there's probably something to it:
Could Jay-Z make Seth Jones the NHL's first crossover star? http://t.co/ztCz7K9qWb2013-4-27 09:53:41
Jones and Roc Nation together, should the 18-year-old star sign, would be a dynamic duo that has a chance to attract an entire untapped audience to the sport of hockey.
In addition to the fact that an African American has never before been drafted No. 1 overall, there have only been seven American-born players taken with the first overall pick in the history of the league.
The young man has been playing for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, and he's widely considered as one of the top prospects in this upcoming draft. The NHL's Central Scouting Service ranks him as its No. 1 prospect, and based on his talent it won't be a shock if he does go No. 1.
According to NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, via USA Today's Kevin Allen, Jones is a step above Jonas Brodin and Dougie Hamilton—both of whom have been significant players for their respective teams:
"He's the franchise defenseman every team is looking for," McGuire said. "His ability to one-time the puck is huge. He can really skate. He can log big minutes. He's not going to be intimidated."
Canadiens and other Internationals have dominated this sport for generations, but Jones has a chance to flip the script.
Many American children—especially inner-city kids—haven't connected with this sport, as most of the stars are non-Americans and/or not African American. The most prominent players of color in the NHL at this time are Wayne Simmonds, P.K. Subban and Jerome Iginla—all of whom are Canadian players.
An African-American star, repped by Jay-Z and his company, could potentially attract a percentage of young children who have never before been interested in the sport.
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