- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
NHL thriving despite short season after lockout
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - Whatever damage was caused by the latest long NHL lockout, the league isn’t feeling the fallout as it gets set to start this year’s playoffs.
With just a few days left in the shortened 48-game season, a look back shows that fans are still flocking to arenas and tuning in on TV sets.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told a meeting of Associated Press Sports Editors on Friday that teams are filling up their buildings to 97.4 percent of capacity, and television ratings on a national level in the United States and Canada, as well as in local markets, are up considerably.
“We may not have as large a fanbase as a couple of the other major league sports, but there are no more avid, passionate fans in all of sports than ours,” Bettman said. “We believe in the strength of our game.”
He also has the numbers to prove it.
Bettman said some teams have reported ratings gains of double and triple digits this year. And that is just from a regular season that was delayed from October until January and was in jeopardy from happening at all until the NHL and the players’ association hammered out a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement to save it.
“We don’t take our fans for granted,” Bettman said. “Our fans are passionate about the game, they get angry when they have reasons to be angry, they are excited when they have reasons to be excited, they are emotional, but most of all they are well-informed. Overwhelmingly, fans understand what we need to do and what we have done.
“They come back because they love the game. We are grateful on a daily basis for our fans.”
Bettman said the best thing to come out of this lockout _ the second in nine seasons _ is that the new agreement with the players’ association is one that should ensure harmony for the better part of a decade.
Just because fans came back for a lockout-shortened season in 1995 and then returned after the NHL became the first major North American sports league to cancel an entire season when the 2004-05 campaign was wiped out, doesn’t mean that will always be the case.
Taking a one-year hiatus in any business _ sports or otherwise _ is hardly a recipe for success, despite what the numbers show.
“It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work to be done, it doesn’t mean that we’re not continuing to focus as a priority on issues such as player safety, but the business has been strong this season,” Bettman said. “We continue to believe that we are in for continued growth.”
With a shortened season in which every game seemed to have meaning and an impact on the playoff races, the upcoming postseason will likely have more of the unpredictability of past seasons _ such as last season when the Los Angeles Kings went from the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference to Stanley Cup champions.
However, Bettman doesn’t buy the notion that this season was unique or more exciting because of fewer games.
“Competitively, this was fairly typical for us, particularly down the stretch run,” he said. “Was there some pent up demand? Yes, but I like our 82-game regular season and I don’t advocate the business model we had to use this year.”
Out of "the shadows," they demand citizenship without consequences
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors