Hey, Sabres fans – welcome to Memorial Day! Wherever you are, I hope the weather is nice, and you’re outside BBQ-ing, swimming, or just enjoying some fun in the sun.
Of course, I’m sure I speak for all of America when I say that, once the sun goes down and I get myself cleaned up after a day of sweating in the backyard, playing baseball with the kids, I’ll be settling in on the couch for a night of NHL playoff hockey as the Detroit Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks and . . . what’s that you say? You know of people who DON”T watch the NHL Stanley Cup payoffs? What’s that – there’s people who are still watching the NBA playoffs? They’re still gong on? And you mentioned baseball, too – yeah I guess that season is well underway, and it kind of makes sense to watch an outdoor sport when the weather is this nice. But still! It’s NHL playoff hockey, the fastest, most exciting action you can find in sports!
I’m sure you see where I’m going here – hockey is not the most popular sport in this country to begin with, and the fact that its playoffs overlap with the NBA playoffs can’t help its cause. You’ll notice that other sports – MLB, NFL, NCAA basketball – hold their playoffs at a time when other sports are still slogging through their regular seasons, meaning they don’t have to share a spotlight with anyone and can pretty much dominate the world of sports without even trying. The NHL playoffs may be more exciting than the NBA’s product, but the NBA is more popular and steals a lot of attention, and casual fans, away from the NHL as a result.
And it could be that the fact that hockey is viewed as being strictly a winter sport does not help once winter weather ends. Baseball can be played in spring, summer and fall; the NBA and NFL, all year-round. Hockey doesn’t have the luxury of being viewed as a sport that spans different seasons, so could it be that the NHL is only hurting itself by letting the sport drag on into spring and early summer?
What do you think – is the length of the NHL season a big reason why the NHL cannot capture the hearts of many American sports fans? Or would the the sport be popular if it was not for other reasons at play?