This past season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs attracted the largest audience ever. According to NHL.com, on Wednesday, June 9, (Game 6) and the day preceding, five of the top 20 searches on Google were Stanley Cup related.
At this time, the NHL has never been better. With so many fans engaged and anticipating every moment of the sport, the NHL has reached new heights. Even with all of the success, the league is on its way to improving again this season.
Perhaps it was all of the surprises and upsets that had fans engaged or maybe it was the arrival of some new teams into the playoffs. The passion for hockey has made a significant jump since the lockout, especially in the past year or two.
Now, as we approach the Summer, the free agent frenzy is almost here. With numerous big name players looking for a job on new teams, fans will be hopeful that their team signs the right players.
Ilya Kovachuk and Patrick Marleau are among the top players that will become free agents if they are not signed before July 1st. Before that even begins, fans are looking forward to the draft, where top prospects will come into play.
The league has done a good job in showcasing some of their most anticipated games, and they are doing it again this year. With the help of NBC and Versus (along with a few others), the NHL features the best games on national television.
At the start of the season, four teams head off to another country to begin the year. Already, the NHL has gained the attention of many by showcasing games in other countries.
This year the Winter Classic will be held at Heinz Field, where the Penguins will host the Capitals. It was not much of a surprise that the league would have Crosby versus Ovechkin in the Classic. This game is expected to get plenty of viewers.
The NHL didn’t stop there. There is now going to be another outdoor game in Montreal about a month later.
The biggest reason for the league’s success are the playoffs. Not only are the games much more intense, electrifying, and nerve wracking, but they last for over two months. The last day of the regular season is usually in mid-April, and the Stanley Cup isn’t won until the start of June.
With this past season being so successful, there is no reason that this year will be any different. It’s the clutch goals, the timely hits, the veteran players, the miraculous saves, and the smart coaching that are helping the game improve even more.