Coming from Chicago it is hard not to be at least somewhat of a casual hockey fan, especially after the Blackhawks brought home the Stanley Cup in 2010. Chicago is a big market and we have one of the “Original Six” teams of the NHL, so the Blackhawks are a big deal here. But Chicago is just a sports town, the Blackhawks might be rank 5th among all of the Chicago sports teams but compared to the Atlanta Thrashers, the Blackhawks get the publicity of a 1st rank team.
Chicago is one of the only cities in America where the players from the local NHL team are household names. And the national media isn’t any help to that. NBC shows the NHL games but these games aren’t advertised. Compared to the NFL, the NHL is like a high school basketball conference. The average person while channel surfing probably flies by a few NHL games per night without a second thought. Baseball, Football, and Basketball are almost treated as religions to most people, Hockey doesn’t get that respect in America.
Football Sundays, Baseball in October, and March Madness are all treated like holidays. The NHL and Hockey in general are missing tradition in America. I believe that is changeable. The NHL needs to shorten the season and minimize the league. The NHL should not have 82 games and they do not need 30 teams. They should reinvent the league, places like Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas, Florida, and etc. don’t need Hockey teams. The NBA worked there way up to 30 teams as popularity grew; start small and grow.
The reason I thought of this topic is because I’m from Chicago and the Blackhawks are off to an historical first half of the season by not yet recording a regulation loss; they are 21-0-3. In Chicago we have a few sports rivals, to say the least, and one sports rival is the Miami Heat. So, although I love that the Blackhawks are getting national respect for their historic run, but I hate that they are being compared to Miami Heat. I understand that the Miami Heat are on 16 game winning streak, but that isn’t even the biggest winning streak in the NBA this season, the Clippers had a 17 game winning streak. What the Blackhawks are doing is truly historic. The NHL has a good product and if they start branding it better they could gain mainstream respect and their teams could be a headline story on SportsCenter by themselves.