Stanley Cup playoffs pairing up with Stanley Pup to highlight animal adoption

The Stanley Cup finals begin this weekend and it’s a battle between north and south, with the Edmonton Oilers facing off against the Florida Panthers to win the trophy. Off the ice, the bigger winners are adoptable dogs.

The NHL has paired up for a show highlighting hockey and animal rescue, a pairing it sees as natural as two defensemen on the blue line.

Sixteen dogs representing each of the teams that qualified for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs — including Sergei Bobruffsky and Connor McDoodle — playfully compete for a pooch-sized version of the famed trophy.

Michael Levitt, producer of the hour-long show which will be broadcast on NHL Network and ESPN+ in the United States on Friday at 8 p.m. ET and on Sportsnet in Canada on Saturday at 6 p.m., said the pairing makes sense as hockey players love their dogs.

“I’ll tell you, I’m really touched by the organic love and affection that hockey players have for dogs and helping rescue animals,” Levitt said. “So it just felt like a really good marriage because the players are already invested in helping these animals.”

That synergy was evident during filming of a special shown on ESPN+ and Sportsnet as the two most common questions seemed to be, “Can I take a picture with the Cup?” and “Is that puppy available for adoption?”

Howie Borrow, who was chaperoning the Cup on behalf of the Hockey Hall of Fame, wasn’t surprised by those lines of inquiry.

“I think the puppies were the big attraction today,” Borrow said, “and so cute and small and cuddly. If you’re a sports fan, and maybe even if you’re not, the Stanley Cup is something that’s pretty special. And it was nice to see and have the two combined, and it’s for a great cause.”

“Stanley Pup” will feature special appearances by celebrity dog lovers including Kristin Chenoweth, Mickey Guyton, Miranda Lambert, Heather McMahan, Lisa Vanderpump and Trisha Yearwood. In addition, color and play-by-play commentary will be provided by Akbar Gbajabiamila (“American Ninja Warrior”/”The Talk”) and Mark Shunock (“Top Rank Boxing”) with Alexa Landestoy (NHL Network/Monumental Sports Network) reporting rinkside.

NHL Players appear throughout the show to introduce dogs available for adoption and support local pet adoption, including Kyle Burroughs (San Jose Sharks), Anton Forsberg (Ottawa Senators), Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens), MacKenzie Weegar (Calgary Flames), and Trevor van Riemsdyk and Tom Wilson (Washington Capitals). Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella also makes an appearance.

Visit for more information on the all-star pups featured on the show and at your local shelter. Additional highlights from Stanley Pup, including behind-the-scenes content, will be available on

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