To many sports-loving Americans, the NHL is small potatoes. The league has its hardcore fans in every market, sure, but it just can’t compete with the NFL, NBA and MLB in the hearts and minds of many fans. Heck, hockey trails behind college sports and even MMA in many markets.
Hockey’s popularity is growing, though. Even on the heels of a lockout-shortened season (just 48 games, rather than the usual 82), there’s growing buzz about this year’s edition of NHL playoffs, which begin tonight.
Part of that buzz is due to the fact that the people in the NHL offices are killing it when it comes to promoting their product online. Earlier today, a number of prominent sports blogs received a care package of “Stanley Cupcakes” from the NHL (sadly, Manolith’s package has yet to arrive… did you forget about us, Gary Bettman?). Very clever.
Oh, and there’s also this video — perhaps the best playoffs promo produced by a major sports league in years. If you can watch this and not get pumped up for the journey players must take through four grueling rounds of best-of-seven series if they want to hoist Lord Stanley’s mug at the end of the year, then you probably don’t have a pulse:
The NHL isn’t going to overtake the NFL as America’s favorite pastime any time soon, but if you’re looking for the most compelling sports product in North America at the moment, you need to consider looking past the NBA playoffs (we all know the Heat are going to repeat as champs) and check out what the boys from the world of ice and fighting have to offer.