Business venture

Ryan Malone on his tech-savvy sports business venture, state of the penguins, Sidney Crosby memorabilia

When former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Ryan Malone decided to return to action after getting the puck in the face in Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, it was a moment that Penguins fans of that era couldn’t believe. will never forget.

They will also never forget his two power-play goals to help eliminate the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals.

Now retired, Malone can also draw a smile from those memories forever. But in his new business venture, the Upper St. Clair product hopes those moments in his past can lead to something else: financial profit.

Malone is partnering with two outlets – Ultimate Franchise Fantasy Sports and Athlete Owned Sports – to capitalize on the rise of the NFT crypto market and redirect funds to the athletes themselves.

An NFT (non-fungible token) is a unique unit of data stored on a digital blockchain. A blockchain is a type of database that stores data in groups called “blocks” which, when populated, are “chained” onto the previously populated block. NFTs can represent things like images, videos, and audio. Anyone can get copies of these digital items. But NFTs are tagged on the blockchain, providing the owner with a potential revenue stream separate from copyright.

Last month, Reuters reported that NFT sales were $2.5 billion this year, up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020.

UFF Sports President Tony Charanduk explains how the concept works.

“It’s not the leagues or player associations we want to deal with. We wanted to deal with individual athletes,” Charanduk said. “Physically, the real athlete is attached to this NFT. They are going to enjoy this NFT participating in this digital world. Whether it is fantasy sports, e-sports, cryptocurrency in general.

“As they participate in our ecosystem, we will generate revenue for these NFTs that the athlete sells to someone. So someone buys this NFT – its digital version – so they are in business with this athlete.

In other words, it’s a way for fans to invest financially in athletes the same way they invested emotionally in them during competition. Malone sees the new market as a direct way for athletes to cash in on themselves.

“The intention to really help the athlete is there, and we’re only at the starting line… We all have the same goal in mind to give that power back to the athletes, and then to the fans,” Malone said.

Nik Lewis is the general manager of Athlete Owned Sports and a former wide receiver who is about to be inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame. He says the partnership with UFF Sports and the expansion of the NFT marketplace will provide many opportunities for athletes to provide content.

“Some are going to have cooking shows. Some will have hunting shows. Some will do NFL game shows. It just won’t be ‘an ESPN’ owning it,” Lewis said. “Athletes will always own their content. We do not purchase their content. We have a monetization system that allows you to distribute your content and earn more money than anywhere else.

Malone says the format also lends itself perfectly to players on the fantasy sports platform. Because players who get involved at the NFT level now have the opportunity to profit by being drafted into fantasy teams when fans invest in a club they love.

“It’s the closest I can get to becoming a real GM, but I can do it from my couch,” Malone said. “We’re all going to end up sharing this cake…. We will use the statistics (of the athletes) of our league. But now they can actually be tied up and making money.

And, essentially, fans can become minority owners of the team.

Any chance that Pirates can go on a blockchain?

During the conversation, Malone also touched on other matters on the ice, particularly his former teams in Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.

• If the Lightning have a legitimate three-round shot“I think Tampa definitely has a shot at making it three in a row. Why not? The showpieces are there. They should always have that swagger.

• If the Penguins’ window to compete for a Stanley Cup is still open with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin“I don’t think you can count those guys when you have Sid and Geno. I think the management there can now help find those pieces that can impact them in the playoffs. That’s ultimately what counts. Just get into the playoffs and let the big boys handle it.

• Last month, the 16th anniversary of the Penguins winning the 2005 draft lottery to select Sidney Crosby“I was on the golf course and people just started shouting that we had Sidney Crosby. It was a game changer. It was great to hear that we were going to have the opportunity to catch him. The seeing camp for the first time, just seeing how explosive he was. Everybody’s talking about (Connor) McDavid now. That’s how he was back then.

• Where the Penguins can find another Ryan Malone-type power forward: “Well, (expletive) I feel pretty good! I can go stand in front of the net and put the shot with no problem… But no, this (Josh) Anderson from Montreal looks like a big boy who can skate and make shots. games. He would be a great pick-up. But I don’t think Bergy (former Penguins defenseman and current Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin) would give him up.

• Reminiscing about being a 2010 Team USA Winter Olympian while watching this year’s summer games in Japan“I get goosebumps every time I think about it. It was a dream I never thought possible.”

Malone’s USA team lost to Canada 3-2 in overtime of the gold medal game, courtesy of a game-winning goal by Crosby.

“To be able to have the opportunity to do it and get so close to it. But Sid gets the goal like Sid usually does,” Malone said. “So I didn’t feel so bad… He’s just supposed to do that stuff, I guess.”

Tim Benz is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.