Did last night’s Stanley Cup Final Game 1 boost the NHL’s popularity?

Six seconds away from the game-winner. (Credit: Deadspin)

The NHL has to be riding on a major high right now. Despite the shortened season, the playoffs gave us great games beyond belief. Starting from the Leafs collapsing in Game 7 to a well-played Sharks-Kings series, the NHL has given us fans something to celebrate.

And maybe those games caught the attention of non-hockey fans. And if that wasn’t enough, last night’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final had to have done something.

Ratings are one indicator of interest and it looked real good from last night. And it looks like the NHL is on the right track in getting a bigger audience. After all, since commercials are not allowed during overtime, the audience could not walk away for a second and risk missing the game-winner. That’s compelling. And maybe that’s what the audience in America needed to get into hockey.

Of course, there are people who don’t care about hockey and are left complaining about their late night television shows.

But watch the highlights from last night’s game. This is what I love about the sport of hockey. And what we got last night had to be the kind of game that captivates a young audience.

Sure, a high-scoring game in regulation would be compelling or a major comeback. But there has to be an intrigue about a game in the championship round going into overtime that stands out. In fact, three overtimes has to be much of an attention grabber.

It’s too bad that ESPN doesn’t care about hockey enough anymore to even start their show off with highlights of the game. So many people turn to ESPN for sports news and they don’t deliver the stop sports story of the day.

But maybe it doesn’t matter anymore. The blogging world and Twitter blew up with talk of Game 1 last night. The interest is there. The game provided everybody a little something to hold on to. And maybe with all that, the game’s popularity went up a little.

Even for me, a hockey fan for quite some time, last night’s game captivated me like it first did when I was a kid. That’s the kind of memory that sticks with you. I hope for those watching hockey for the first time last night, that’s their foundation for their love of a great game.

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