NHL And Their Fans Are The Perfect Hockey Match

The National Hockey League, known as the NHL, has been bringing some of the highest quality ice hockey in the world to its fans. The NHL and its fans are a perfect hockey match because not only does the NHL put games on the ice but they also do work in the communities and the fans respond. Fans give back to the NHL with passion and dedication that is rarely seen in any other professional sports league in North America.
Ever since its creation in 1917 the National Hockey League, also known as the NHL, has strived to put the best quality ice hockey competition on the ice for its fans. The NHL and its fans are the perfect hockey match because the fans return the NHL’s efforts to put on a quality product with support and enthusiasm not seen in many other North American professional sports leagues. The hockey match between the NHL and its fans has withstood one strike by the players, one lockout by the owners, and a complete shut down for an entire season by the league management. Through it all the hockey match between the NHL and its fans has only gotten stronger and as the excitement level continues to rise with the games on the ice it can be expected that the fans will respond with even more enthusiasm that the league hopes to keep turning into ticket and merchandise sales.

In September of 2004 the NHL decided to shut down all league play because it was time to negotiate a new labor contract with the player’s union and the union was, in the league’s opinion, not cooperating in the negotiations. Ice hockey is traditionally a sport for northern people in northern cities but this geographic restriction has always been a huge boundary to the NHL management. The NHL management has always felt that the NHL needs to put teams in the warm climate cities in North America in order for it to survive. In recent years teams have been added to warm climate states such as California, Florida, and Texas just to name a few. The problem is that the NHL has never really had a major television contract and the lack of a television contract is the revenue needed for the league to survive an expansion to territories that may have never seen a hockey game before. The NHL was looking for that strong hockey match in cities not normally known for ice hockey. But even though the southern cities started winning championships the NHL could not attract a major television contract and soon the economics of paying players National Football League type salaries while not generating the money to cover those salaries caught up with the NHL and they needed a new deal with their players’ union. When the union wanted to keep things as they were the NHL management decided that if the league was going to survive then they needed a better deal with the players and shut down the league until that deal was negotiated. After almost an entire year of being shut down, the league and the players finally put together an agreement and play resumed for the 2005 season.

A financially strong NHL means that they can continue to do the work they do in the cities they have teams in. One of the ways the NHL tries to build a fan base in their new southern homes is to establish a youth hockey network in those cities. If the kids can get behind hockey by wanting to play it then they will want to go to NHL games and maybe even play in the NHL one day. In many cities the NHL is solely responsible for giving warmer climate children the chance to play the game of ice hockey for the first time and it is something that has helped many kids stay out of trouble. The NHL also donates a great deal of money to charities within the cities they play in as well as setting up online auctions to auction off players’ jerseys and sticks used in the games with all of the proceeds going to charity. The NHL and its players do a great deal of work for the communities they play in and many players wind up becoming permanent fixtures in their adopted NHL homes.

The best way the fans can return the NHL’s generosity is to continue to support the NHL with the enthusiasm that is rivaled by few professional sports leagues in North America. One of the best recent examples of fan enthusiasm was during the 2007 Easter Conference Final playoff round where the Buffalo Sabres were playing the Ottawa Senators for the right to go to the NHL championship round. In Buffalo not only was every playoff game the Sabres played sold out inside the building but there was also a huge crowd, and party, outside the building every game. Inside the Sabres’ arena there were over 18,000 fans enjoying the game and outside the arena there was nearly 10,000 more fans watching the game on huge televisions and adding to that NHL enthusiasm. The NHL and their fans are a perfect hockey match.
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