This past season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs attracted the largest audience ever. According to NHL.com , on Wednesday, June 9, (Game 6) and the day preceding, five of the top 20 searches on Google were Stanley Cup-related.
At this time, the NHL has never been better. With so many fans engaged and anticipating every moment of the sport, the NHL has reached new heights. Even with all of the success, the league is on its way to improving again this season.
Perhaps it was all of the surprises and upsets that had fans engaged, or maybe it was the arrival of some new teams into the playoffs. The passion for hockey has made a significant jump since the lockout, especially in the past year or two.
Now, as we approach the summer the free agent frenzy is almost here. With numerous big name players looking for a job on new teams, fans will be hopeful that their team signs the right players.
Ilya Kovachuk and Patrick Marleau are among the top players that will become free agents if they are not signed before July 1. Even before this event, fans are looking forward to the draft where top prospects will come into play.
The league has done a good job in showcasing some of their most anticipated games, and they are doing it again this year. With the help of NBC and Versus (along with a few others), the NHL features the best games on national television.
At the start of the season, four teams will head off to another country to begin the year. The NHL has already gained the attention of many by showcasing games in other countries.
This year the Winter Classic will be held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh where the hometown Penguins will host the Washington Capitals. It was not much of a surprise that the league would have Sidney Crosby versus Alexander Ovechkin in the Classic. This game is expected to get plenty of viewers.
The NHL didn't stop there. There will also be another outdoor game in Montreal about a month later.
The biggest reason for the league's success are the playoffs. Not only are the games much more intense, electrifying, and nerve-wracking, but they last for over two months. The last day of the regular season is usually in mid-April, and the Stanley Cup isn't won until the start of June.
With this past season being so successful, there is no reason this year will be any different. It's the clutch goals, the timely hits, the veteran players, the miraculous saves, and the smart coaching that are helping the game improve even more.