Sunday, July 17, 2005

The "Reconstruction" of the NHL

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran a rather lengthy article yesterday on the reconstruction of the NHL. The thinking seems to go that if the NHL wants to get back on track, they need to make it a fan friendly league and market the personalities of the game. Rule changes to offer non-hardcore fans something faster and more exciting should also help.

"I have a hunch they'll be able to get back in the groove in a couple of years," said James Chung, president of Reach Advisors, a Boston-based sports research and marketing firm. "Like other sports, they'll rebound just fine. If I were the NHL, I'd try to own being the fans' league.

Remember when the Lightning gave out free tickets a couple years ago, to bring people into the building? Some other clubs would be wise to adopt that strategy for a few bad, middle of the week matchups. The NHL is a great sport to watch; it's getting the people to watch that is the trouble.

I have an acquaintance who is a big sports fan, but was not into hockey. You know what he did say though? He loved to watch playoff hockey. Now, the NHL will never be able to fully replicate the excitement of the playoffs in the regular season, but the games are not that much different. People just think they do not want to watch regular season hockey, or they don't have the patience for it. But if the NHL can use TV and some cheap tickets to get people attached to a local team, plus the shootout rule, I truly think the NHL will be back. And Crosby not going to Buffalo would help too.