2011 Is The NHL's Big Chance

steve stamkos tampa bay lightning nhl

Starting with the last year’s Winter Olympics bonanza and rolling through Saturday’s Winter Classic, people are actually talking about professional hockey for the first time in a long time.

By all accounts the Bridgestone Winter Classic was a huge success for the National Hockey League, and HBO’s miniseries on the event has drawn rave reviews in recent weeks.

Attendance has been steady since last year, and it appears that the league could be on the verge of a new TV deal with ESPN.

The league couldn’t have picked a better time to find success. With labour situations uncertain for the NBA and NFL in 2011, the NHL may have the rare opportunity to corner the professional sports market from the end of baseball season in late fall until spring training next year.

The NHL has struggled to shake its “niche” sport identity, but if sports fans are given no other choice but to tune into hockey games, they just might do so.  The key for the NHL will be to build momentum heading into the year.

Interest in the league is at its peak right now, but the league must throw its weight behind marketing efforts heading into the start of next season.  If it does, the NHL might finally become mainstream in 2011.

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