The Future of the NHL: 8 Ways to Make Hockey More Popular in America

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The Future of the NHL: 8 Ways to Make Hockey More Popular in America
Len Redkoles/Getty Images

From the National Hockey League's inaugural season of 1917-1918, the NHL and the sport of ice hockey have continually struggled to gain solid footing in the world of American sports.

Any respectable popularity gained over the years was soon lost to lockouts, exposure issues, economic downturns, national catastrophes or just plain ol' bad luck.

While backyard sports like football and baseball quickly grew into some of most profitable enterprises in the country, a sport requiring excessive equipment, substantial skill and (strangest of all) real, physical ice never offered quite the same appeal to the average American.

And so, amid an era when professional sports dominate everything from prime time television to the stock market, the NHL remains a distant last among the "Big Four" professional sports.

Yes, indeed, the future of hockey is looking up. The NHL's massive 10-year contract with media titan NBC has only just begun. Attendance in the arenas and viewership outside of them has continued to rise. Promotional icons like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Tim Thomas have certainly created their fair share of publicity over the past year. Even SportsCenter now mentions hockey at least once every four days.

However, last weekend's 2012 NHL All-Star Game—immediately deemed a success after drawing a 1.0 overnight TV Rating on NBC Sports Net—dealt the world of hockey a reality check.

As Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski pointed out, the NBA's most recent all-star game received a 6.2 rating. The 2012 NFL Pro Bowl, also held last Sunday, got a "disappointing" 7.9 mark. Last summer's MLB All-Star Game was given a 6.9 rating...it's lowest ever.

Heck, even the 2011 MLS All-Star Game managed to dribble out a 0.5 score last August on ESPN2.

Clearly, despite a recent positive trend, popularity in America must still remain a key concern and focus for the National Hockey League in upcoming years. So half-baked or not, the following eight proposals to increase the fame of the NHL might actually be needed after all.

Enjoy.

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