Across the NHL, players look for different ways to stay sharp during the summer months. For NY Islanders all-star center Brock Nelson, the best way to keep his skills on point and mix in a bit of fun is by participating in Da Beauty League in his home state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota-based league was established in the Fall of 2015 by local business people to bring professional hockey to the State of 10,000 Lakes on a year-round basis. It's a glorified pick-up game for NHL players and other professionals in the off-season.
Dozens of NHLers, most of who grew up in Minnesota, participate in the summer league, running from mid-July through mid-August.
Each game consists of two 23-minute halves of 4 on 4 hockey. The game can get a bit goofy at times, as each team has one opportunity to implement the "Za Hot Puck," where each goal counts double during the two-minute window.
Nelson's teammates Anders Lee, Zach Parise, and Hudson Fasching participated in the league last season, while former Islanders Nick Leddy and Kieffer Bellows also joined the action. While there are official stats and standings with a champion crowned at the end of the season, the players use the opportunity to enjoy the game on a much less competitive level. You'll occasionally see a highlight reel goal while scrolling social media, as it's difficult for these guys to flip the switch completely off.
Playing with Team Element, Nelson is one of the league's preeminent plays. The Warroad, MN native rattled off 36 goals for the Islanders last year - one shy of his career high set the year prior.
Da Beauty League season is set to kick off July 12th, with all games being played at Braemar Arena in Edina, MN - home of Islanders captain Anders Lee. Each team will play nine games before playoffs, with the champions awarded the John Scott Cup - named after the former NHL enforcer who acts as the league's quasi-commissioner.