Today is an exciting day for the few hockey fans there still are with the NHL 2010-2011 season opening tonight. When economies were good and the NHL was at it’s peak it seemed as though the NFL was the scratch golfer of the four-some and the NBA, MLB, and NHL were all about the same. But we live in a different era with changing times and unfortunately for the NHL, they are losing a lot of their fans to other forms of entertainment.
In doing research for this blog from my MackBerry, the NHL isn’t even found on espn.com’s mobile homepage. I had to search “all sports” to find it and then it was listed 8th, on the eve of it”s home opener. It’s kind of sad for someone like myself, and for many people who still have a special place in the lower 90 of my hockey heart.
Soccer has really become popular in North America over the last 4 years, giving us a new sense of international flava that we used to go to the NHL for. UFC and other second rate mixed martial arts associations have blown up giving us a reason to watch guys beat the hell out of each other “with sanctioning,” that we used to go to the NHL for. And as with the NBA becomes more athletic, the courts have really opened up for a more fast pace and fluid game (the antithesis of the 96 Utah Jazz) a void the NHL used to fill.
But with stubbornness from league officials in not wanting to widen the rink, require smaller goalie pads, or more lenient passing rules the game has stayed the same with times that have not, which doesn’t account for a formula for success. The NHL has more young talent than ever, great story lines, and plenty of room for improvement. They just have to want to be helped.
I think that by playing more outdoor games, creating more exciting fan atmospheres, and playing to the strength’s of the league’s superstars, the NHL can easily be right back up there with the other big 3 sports instead of its current residence in the same apartment complex as the WNBA, MLS, and Michael Phelps.
What are the league’s strengths? AO vs. Sid “The Kid.” Which HBO will be highlighting in a new series “24/7 Capitals vs. Penguins” which I will be highlighting in an upcoming blog. The veterans in Hockeytown, young international players who go willy nilly all over the ice, and incorporating these league’s historic tradition with a modernist approach to a dying breed of fans. By playing off of these strengths that fans yearn for, the NHL could climb back up Mt. McKinley to it’s summit.
I don’t want to get into actual predictions of how the season will play out because frankly I don’t know much about this upcoming season. And I think it’s fair to say that most avid sports fans loss interest after the finals and haven’t kept up with off-season transactions are also semi-surprised about the start of the season being “already.” On that note I would like to leave you with a blog by the 2nd funniest man on ESPN today, 3rd funniest of all time, John Buccigross
It’s a good read and if you want to know who’s funnier, look no further than a 97 Jewish Pulitzer Prize finalist and a former UNLV back-up quarterback. 3 peas in a pod I know.