What happened to the NHL?

What has happened to the NHL? How can one of the major sports All-Star weekend go unnoticed? So many questions and not enough answers. The NHL is the least popular of the four major sports and in recent years it’s popularity has steadily declined; honestly tennis or golf may have taken its spot in the big four. Okay, the All-Star game itself was pretty exciting, the East won in a 12-11 shootout in Montreal, but that’s only one game. What about the rest of the season?

Growing up, even those who didn’t follow hockey, we all knew who Wayne Gretsky was. The guy was everywhere: commercials, magazines, Saturday Night Live, everywhere. Commisioner Bettman needs to realize that Wayne Gretsky, AKA “The Great One” is not coming back and its up to Bettman to find ways to market his stars in a innovative way.

Jordan built the NBA’s popularity, but David Stern continued to find ways to market the league after he retired. The NHL has fallen short in their efforts to expand their game and it’s reach after their biggest star left the game. There are not many things that will help, nonetheless I have a few suggestions.

1) Market your stars
Lets see Ovechkin and Crosby in commercials, reality dating shows (The Bachelor) or somewhere in the public eye. Remember, no publicity is bad.

2) Let controversy reign
The sport needs fans so why would you get rid of a guy that draws attention to himself and inadvertently to the sport. If we watch the Dallas Stars because Sean Avery is playing, that’s okay. It works in the NBA and the NFL, it’ll work for you too. Ratings is the key, ratings people!

3) Show games on National TV
Enough of games on Versus, a channel that most don’t know exist and NHL League Pass is a joke. People don’t watch NHL games for free, why would they pay? Also, bring games back to ESPN; I’m not the biggest hockey fan, but I watched portions of games while waiting for SportsCenter to air. NBC alone doesn’t garner enough exposure.

4) More outside games
The Winter Classic in Wrigley Field was awesome. The Redwings and Blackhawks were outside in the elements and the background was priceless. In no way am I suggesting that 30 games should be scheduled to occur outdoors, but maybe 3. Outdoor games bring excitement to the sport and gives fans something to look forward to.

Simply breathtaking!
Come on Bettman, don’t let the league die on your watch!

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