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Sunday, June 15, 2008

A great year for the NHL

From Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News:

Here are five reasons you should have enjoyed the NHL in 2007-08:

• The right team won it all. Detroit became the first team since the 2001-02 Red Wings to win the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup. If it happened every year, it would become tiresome. But every now and again, it’s nice to see the best team in the league confirm as much in the playoffs. The Red Wings for years have had the best organization. Their players earned the Cup in the end.

• Sid the Kid. The NHL couldn’t have asked for much more than Sidney Crosby
and the Penguins reaching the finals. Crosby is the face of the new NHL, and he was brilliant in the postseason while showcasing the league. The Pens play an exciting up-tempo style that the NHL has been trying to push since rewriting the rule book following the lockout. Sid sells the game to kids.

• Television ratings. Game Five of the finals was up 155 percent over last season, and Game Six was up 123 percent. The four NBC games averaged a 3.2 rating, NBC’s highest since the lockout and doubling those from the Cup last year. The fact Detroit, Pittsburgh and Buffalo were in the top three TV markets was no surprise. All are hockey hotbeds. Out-of-towners forget Buffalo’s ratings would be much higher if NBC and CBC were combined. Most encouraging was that Columbus and Nashville were among the top six.

• The Winter Classic. There’s no telling how many new hockey fans jumped aboard after watching the outdoor spectacle at The Ralph. I’m not into gimmicks and had my doubts going into the event. That changed after watching fans get bundled up to celebrate the game they played as kids. The stadium looked like a giant snow globe. And the fact that Crosby scored the winner in a shootout made the event that much better.

• Going global. Hockey is growing by the day in Europe. The season opened with two games in London, which helped convince league executives that they can sell the game overseas. It prompted the NHL to schedule games next season in Prague, Czech Republic, and Stockholm, Sweden. Last week, one euro was worth $1.53 American. Earning time-and-a-half isn’t going to hurt anybody’s bank account. Someday, we could see the Stanley Cup winner playing the European champ for the world title.

Read the entire article here.

Gleason is always an intersting read and it hard to disagree with any of the reasons he listed for why the NHL had a great season.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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