Is This Hockey’s Chance at the Big Time?

By Noah Davis 

The NFL is on the verge of striking (a move that could cost owners $1 billion). The NBA might have labor problems as well. As a result, sports fans might need new options. Can the NHL fill the void?

The league is making a push to do so. It tapped Charles Coplin to be executive VP of content and is going big on Foursquare. Hockey will land a better television deal both in the United States and abroad. The NHL continues to build an audience and will broadcast 10 American Hockey League games this season.

Here’s the thing about hockey: It’s fun to watch now.Gone are the days of the ridiculous puck tracker. (Although, in retrospect, that was kind of a cool idea.) High definition broadcasts change the way people watch hockey more than any other sport, with the possible exception of soccer. A casual sports fan can understand what’s happening, see the puck, be impressed by the speed, and enjoy watching a hockey game. The same couldn’t be said 10 or even five years ago.

The NHL has potential. It has a growing list of marketable stars. It’s close to getting more play on NBC and possibly ESPN. Sports fans are beginning to take the league seriously again. The NHL won’t surpass the NBA and the NHL in terms of popularity, but it will benefit greatly from any and all strikes. People will watch hockey once again.