Ogrean admitted that "at the end of the day, this is still a football, basketball, baseball nation to a greater degree than it is a hockey nation," but more athletic kids are deciding to play hockey.
"I think the NHL was probably the biggest catalyst for this stuff," Ogrean said. "Gary Bettman over the years has taken some criticism for markets that are harder to nurture success with. But there is an absolute cause-and-effect relationship between that and the increase in participation in Sun Belt states. A lot of it starts with the visibility and the stage the NHL has."
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