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Let’s do that hockey – Yahoo Sports


EDMONTON, AZ - MAY 27: Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) hits a shot on net in the third period of Game 3 of the Western Conference Final Round, Edmonton Oilers vs. Dallas Stars game on May 27, 2024 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB.  (Photo by Curtis Cuomo/Ikon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In June of 1994, Sports Illustrated ran a provocative cover story declaring “Why the NHL’s Hot and the NBA’s Not.”

The theory was that hockey was behind the Stanley Cup champion New York RangersInterest was growing while the NBA, stuck with its greatest star (Michael Jordan) playing minor league baseball, was fading. Perhaps the NHL can surpass the popularity that the NBA has enjoyed since the arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the early 1980s.

This, of course, will not work. Not even close.

NHL owners locked out players to start the next season and the momentum there was lost. However, basketball is a much more popular and understood game in America, hockey has never been a great TV property, and the league’s overall mismanagement has left its stars exposed, if known at all.

The NBA still rules. The NHL — as great as it can be and as loyal as its fan base — is still looking for any opportunity to be front and center and capture the nation’s sporting interest.

Well, maybe this opportunity will come.

The NBA Conference Finals could be concluded Tuesday if Dallas Finishes the scanning process Minnesota. on monday, Boston beat Indiana 4-0. Since the NBA Finals don’t start until June 6, there will likely be an eight-night gap in the sports calendar with only one clear thing to fill that gap.

Hockey.

And not just hockey, the conference finals have been dynamic so far; Featuring overtime, comebacks and massive momentum shifts played out by four highly skilled teams and some of the biggest stars in the sport.

There’s the big market, Original Six Notification Led by the scorers Artemi Panarin And Vincent Trocheck In addition to the clutch goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin Somehow the series held a 2-1 lead on a deep, relentless lead Florida a team. The Panthers have another play Alexander Barkov And sandpaper style Matthew Tkachuk.

In the West, a Dallas team that boasts a different star every night is 2-1 Edmonton – thanks for the Jason Robertson, who had not scored in 10 matches, scored a hat-trick on Monday. Of course, the Oilers don’t lack for stars. They have two of the biggest players in the game – Connor McDavid and… Leon Draisaitl Who pop out of the ice almost every shift.

Each series feels like it’s going deep, if not a full seven games, and that means night after night during the NBA’s offseason, as the NHL puts its best forward product out there in prime time.

Additionally, the Eastern Conference Series is broadcast by ESPN/ABC (the West on TNT), providing a reason for ESPN’s supporting shows to bring up and discuss the sport. For years the NHL was shown on NBC and NBC Sports Network, which did a great job but remained outside the immediate awareness of sports fans.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: New York Rangers fans celebrate after an overtime victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 24, 2024 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: New York Rangers fans celebrate after an overtime victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 24, 2024 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Make no mistake, this won’t suddenly make the NHL incredibly popular or add millions of new fans, let alone overtake the NBA. For a league and a sport that has long wanted any kind of recognition, respect and attention, this is a unique and perfectly timed opportunity.

The NHL might enjoy a week or so of not having to battle outside of basketball’s shadow because there’s nothing to overshadow it. It’s hockey time. Hockey opportunity.

The prospect of McDavid getting the recognition his game deserves alone should cause league offices to salivate.

At 27 years old, the three-time MVP is already an all-time great, having scored 100 points in seven of his eight full seasons. His uncanny ability to change direction and attacking style of play translates even to those who may not be familiar with all the rules.

“Is Connor McDavid a Mahomes hockey player,” a friend who rarely watches sports texted after watching him play Monday against Dallas.

He, minus the lack of championships, is part of the ongoing story of these playoffs. The Oilers are loaded with stars, but is that enough to win the Stanley Cup, and can they keep them if not?

Meanwhile, East the Rangers hold the lead in the series despite mostly outpacing the Panthers’ bandwagon. New York’s vast fan base — which erupted in Florida’s “Let’s Go Rangers” chants during Sunday’s run — has injected life into these playoffs.

However, any curious spectator may become fascinated by Florida’s style of play – an aggressive and relentless forechecking system that is both exciting and effective. It’s hard to remember any hockey team ever applying this amount of pressure – and therefore this amount of movement.

None of this is easy, of course. The game of hockey can be simple, yet confusing. The best players aren’t always on the ice. Everyone wears a helmet, jersey numbers can be difficult to see, and the pace of play is frenetic. It was never for everyone.

The NHL doesn’t need everyone, though. What you want – what almost all hockey fans want – is a moment when the stage is alone. By fate and timeline, he may finally be here.



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