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Knights have Batman, Wonder Woman on their side vs. Avalanche

Updated April 13, 2024 - 8:00 pm

Imagine Batman and Bugs Bunny playing hockey together and trying to score a goal for the Golden Knights.

Something like that could happen when the Knights host the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday.

TNT Sports and Warner Bros., in partnership with the NHL, are bringing the MultiVersus NHL Face-off for Sunday’s clash between the last two Stanley Cup champions.

“Everyone’s acknowledged there is this opportunity to create these animated games or create animated content to reach a different audience, a more family audience,” said Dave Lehanski, the NHL’s executive vice president of business development and innovation. “There’s still the live game, but it creates this fantastical nature to the environment.”

Iconic Warner Bros. characters will take part in TNT Sports’ broadcast, which can be seen on truTV and streaming platform Max.

Four characters have been assigned to each team — the Knights will have Batman, Bugs Bunny, Wonder Woman and Shaggy on their roster, while the Avalanche field Superman, Velma, Steven Universe and Finn the Human.

Tasmanian Devil from “Looney Tunes” will be the referee.

TNT producers will assign one character to one player, and it won’t be unveiled until before the game.

Knights center Jack Eichel and right wing Keegan Kolesar were the impromptu general managers and took Batman with their first pick. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar selected the Man of Steel.

“To get these two teams, we’re super grateful,” Lehanski said. “Great players, big stars, we’re hopeful the pace of the game the way these two teams play will lend itself well to this type of experience.”

This will be TNT Sports’ first integration into a live animated game. ESPN got the first opportunity with the Big City Greens Classic, a live animated game featuring characters and environments from the hit Disney show “Big City Greens.”

ESPN has broadcast that for the past two seasons.

More of the same can be expected with TNT Sports’ broadcast, but with more unique settings.

Lehanski said nine environments will be seen on the rink throughout the game. That includes the court from “Space Jam” and the tree fort from “Adventure Time.”

The idea comes from Warner Bros. Games’ soon-to-be-released video game “MultiVersus,” which will be released May 28 for PlayStation, Xbox and PC.

“I don’t know if they say we could’ve done this 20-plus years ago when the first ‘Space Jam’ came out, but it reaches a different demographic that we need,” Kolesar said.

The NHL is using its EDGE Puck and Player tracking technology, in partnership with Hawk-Eye Innovations and sports data company Beyond Sports, to bring this idea to life.

Beyond Sports uses 25 points on the body to capture realistic player movement. This will allow the character to move as the real player would on the ice.

This was something Lehanski and his team have tried to emphasize since the first Big City Greens game in March 2023 when all movements were generic and limbs weren’t moving correctly.

Lehanski hopes the unique broadcast will continue to draw a younger audience to the NHL.

“That’s part of what makes it so great,” he said. “It’s hockey, but the environment is where you can have a ton of fun with from a creative standpoint.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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