The NHL needs the Chicago Blackhawks unbeaten streak to continue. There was half a winter of rinks empty and nothing but negative press for the NHL with the face of the game not teams and players. When hockey was mentioned during the lockout all you saw was Donald Fehr and his adversary Gary Bettman. The season kicked off and there were many questions on how the NHL would regain the fans and get back on the national scene.
The NHL has received a huge gift to the P.R. department by way of the Chicago Blackhawks streak. The Blackhawks are a perfect gift too, first off it’s a huge market for the NHL. Chicago is the third largest TV market in the United States, CSN has had record ratings all season long. It still is kind of mind blowing that CSN covered the Hawks during the Stanley Cup run in 2009-2010 yet since the lockout was lifted it has posted it’s top 10 highest rated games in their history of covering the Hawks.
Secondly, the Hawks have big time stars on their roster that fans in both the US and Canada are familiar with. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith not only won the Stanley Cup in 2010 but all of Canada know them as Gold Medal winners in the 2010 Olympics. Patrick Kane is also a star quality player that helped Team USA tie the gold medal match against Canada as well as scoring the Stanley Cup winner that only he saw go in the net. Kane also has been on TMZ and any celebrity would tell you that any news coverage is good news coverage. Lastly the Hawks have Marian Hossa on their roster who reached three Stanley Cup finals on three different teams before finally hoisting the Cup after it was handed to him from the Captain in Philly.
The biggest reason though that the NHL needs the streak to continue though is that there now is a possibility that your everyday sports fan will begin to follow hockey again. ESPN rarely speaks about hockey since their network stopped covering the league, but now they are almost forced to look at the Hawks and the NHL. For three consecutive days the popular PTI program, they mentioned the Blackhawks (helped by Michael Wilbon’s Chicago roots) with Friday’s episode including a 5 minute interview with Barry Melrose. This is an extremely early time of the season for the powers that be at ESPN to wake up the best dressed color man at the network to talk about hockey. ESPN and all other major networks talking about the Blackhawks will only draw the curious fans in but maybe the disgruntled NHL fans back to the game also while possibly adding brand new fans to the game. The NHL still is pretty low in the sports ranking system overall especially in the USA so having a story as great as the Hawks are building it to can only help the NHL ratings and fan-base by leaps and bounds.
Teams in the NHL will really be trying to beat the Hawks including the Red Wings Sunday on National TV and the announcers may sound like they are pulling for a Detroit win, but deep down inside at the NHL offices, they are pulling for the Hawks to keep on winning so the NHL will be on the top of the minds of hockey fans everywhere, novice sports fans, and hopefully it will grow new fans to the best sport to watch in person.
You can almost hear Gary Bettman yelling before games…..Let’s Go Blackhawks!!!
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