EVERYONE is talking hockey today. Unfortunately, the fervor won't last. Local sports radio, ESPN, all the major news outlets, everyone is talking about the overtime gold medal game from yesterday, as they should be. I wish this meant new American puckheads, to further the sport here. I wish I knew that the NHL marketing machine (if there even is one) could use this to prop up some of the game's Stars and put these guys images in people's living rooms across the nation. However, it probably won't. There are plenty of things wrong with all the major sports leagues in America, but none need to gain traction the way hockey does. We just took it to the best team in the world with a bunch of young bucks who have Olympic Games still ahead of them. This is the first home-grown generation that can go skate-to-skate with the best players in the world from every country. So let's capitalize.
The most obvious problem the NHL has, which everyone knows, is the failure of the teams (business-wise) in warm weather American markets where very few people care. America only has a few regions where hockey has traditionally done well. The Northeast and the Minnesota/Wisc./Michigan areas are the hotbeds of American hockey. It does well other places where the teams do well, like Colorado, New Jersey, San Jose, Anaheim, Dallas, etc. Some of these are warm weather places, but have strong teams. The league either needs to cut down to 24 teams period, or move teams back to Canada. How much sense does it make the 50% roughly of all NHL players are from Canada, and yet out of 30 teams only 6 are in the Great White North. Those people are obsessed with the sport and would love to have more teams.
We already know Winnipeg and Quebec City can handle teams, and would support teams coming back. Much has been made of bringing a team (Phoenix?) to Hamilton, Ontario. The Maple Leafs' owners don't like that idea, but there is enough passion/people/money to support another team. Other cities like Halifax, Quebec City, Victoria, etc. could support teams. Also, other American cities that would seem like more logical fits than Tampa, Miami, Charlotte, Columbus, Nashville, etc. Places like Seattle, Milwaukee, Cleveland, cold-weather cities that could use another winter sport maybe. There has to be better ways to market what is my second-favorite sport.