By Nicholas Muhl
I was born December 29th, 1992. That year the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup behind NHL Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux. Growing up as a young kid in the 90’s, I was raised to love the National Hockey League. To this day I can remember collecting NHL hockey cards as a kid, and knowing many of the players that played for each team.
I grew up watching the toughness of defensemen Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils. I saw both goaltenders Patrick Roy and Martin Brouder battle for who was the best in the NHL. Both are now probably two of the best hockey players to ever play. And I saw the Dallas Star’s Brett Hull score the infamous “No Goal” in triple overtime to defeat the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup.
In the 90’s and early 2000’s, the NHL was in it’s prime. The NHL is much different a decade later. It’s experienced two lockouts since 2004 under commissioner Gary Bettman. Events like Todd Bertuzzi’s blind side sucker punch on Steve Moore in 2004, and Patrice Bergeron’s Grade III concussion in 2007 have called into question the brutality of the sport.
Rightfully so, for a time period, the NHL was it’s own worst enemy and received little to no media coverage because of it. There was a point where many NHL games were being shown on little known media networks like OLN. Gone were the big time games on ABC, NBC, ESPN and other major networks.
However, the NHL is building back to what it once was. Superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have generated national attention to the NHL and have become household names, even for the non-hockey fan. The 2014 Stanley Cup final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers was the second most watched Stanley Cup final since 2006.
Now, days before the 2014 NHL season is set to begin, where is the media coverage of the NHL? After such a highly watched Stanley Cup, why do I find myself, an avid fan of the NHL, barely feeling like the season is set to begin at all? Nightly SportsCenter episodes are spent discussing players like Johnny Manziel and LeBron James. Headlines are all about the major sports like football and basketball.
While the NHL still has a long way to go before it can be once again included with the major leagues of the NFL, NBA and MLB, it is now on the right path. However, the NHL will never make a comeback until major networks like ESPN begin giving the NHL the coverage it deserves. It’s frustrating as a fan, because these major networks make it harder to be a fan of a sport so many love.