Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hockey just isn't major sport any more

At least that is what Ray McNulty says here. Let me cut some of his more interesting comments. Enjoy....

In the U.S., hockey has become a niche sport _ like tennis and lacrosse and soccer _ with a cult-like following. The game's fans are fiercely loyal and intensely passionate. But there aren't nearly enough of them.

Clearly, hockey no longer belongs on the Mount Rushmore of America's sports, having lost its prized place in the market to NASCAR and golf. And lousy leadership, combined with foolish over-expansion and poor marketing, continues to erode interest in the NHL.

The NHL reached its peak in the 1980s, when there were real rivalries and genuine dynasties and a wonderful player named Gretzky, who became the face of the game.

Too many longtime hockey fans have turned away.

Attendance is down, even in historically strong hockey towns. TV ratings are terrible. The league is going the wrong way.

Its not on network TV. It's not on ESPN. It's on something called "Versus," which used to be OLN, the old Outdoor Life Network _ the one that televises the Tour de France.

Which means the NHL, as a marketable TV product, has hit bottom.

And not even the new rules, devised to open up the game and create more scoring opportunities, have done enough to save the sport from America's indifference.

So it's time for drastic action.

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