The NHL. Hockey, you think about it and what comes to mind? Class, respect, loyalty, sportsmanship and well, old school. Yes hockey is “old school”, now I don’t know if it’s just coming from a young man perspective but I love the NHL on the ice, but off the ice, it’s not a great product. Being not only a NHL fan but a sports fan in general, I love waking up every Sunday to watch the NFL, I love when Lebron plays the Warriors in the NBA, I love watching international football. Whether it’s Messi creating magic, the Neymar Jr. trade to PSG or the great Cristiano Ronaldo leading Portugal to a UEFA European Championship. They all have something in common, a talked about offseason and outspoken superstars.
Now I’m not talking about the protest that are going on in the NFL, I’m talking about their polarizing players that come with the NFL and also the NBA. Richard Sherman, OBJ, Cam Newton, Lebron James, KD, Steph Curry very outspoken, entertaining players in the NFL, they aren’t scared to speak their mind and to push the limits of their respective leagues. I know hockey is a very isolated sport but even being a fan in Canada listening to Canadian Sports shows, the NBA and NFL still dominate the off seasons because their product off the field is just as good as on field. You ever watch a NHL do a post game interview and think “Wow, that was entertaining”? Didn’t think so, you ever watch a Marshawn Lynch, or a Richard Sherman interview, you’re glued to the television, you’re searching them up, seeing who they are, following them on social media, keeping up on what they’re doing.
The main problem the NHL has in terms of off the ice is our personalities, we criticized PK Subban for being himself, for stepping outside the box. He’s entertaining, he’s fun to watch, he’s got a big personality, he’s respectful with everything he does and the hockey world criticizes him because it’s not “the hockey way”. The NHL and their personalities need to stop acting so old school and start to embrace and encourages players to be more like PK off the ice. The NHL needs to look at some of their younger demographic and accept we are more open to these bigger personalities, that we won’t crucify players for being more bold. Crosby, possibly the NHL biggest superstar has no known media accounts, and I love Crosby, I think he’s great, he was born a town over from me and I’ll cheer for him whenever I can, but off the ice, you hear nothing from him. With the young guns coming in like Matthews, Liane, Eichel, we should be encouraging the future NHL stars to have some personality, to promote the NHL not just on the ice but off the ice. To draw more attention to the NHL and make it a more talked about sport, not only Canada, but the United States also.
It was what I expected from the Penguins, saying they would go to the White House if invited, people just brushed it past social media and pushed it to the side. Could you imagine if the American Phil Kessel came out and said he didn’t agree with the Donald Trump said and came out with a statement saying he wouldn’t go to the White House. Or the Penguins as an organization to come out and support what’s going on and not accept an invitation. I don’t believe it would hurt the NHL as much as people would believe, the NHL would benefit because fans of other sports would see this and be more interested, they might search the team up, they might see what the NHL is all about, the NHL might get a few more fans. Now I’m not saying they need to protest the anthem at hockey games, but supporting the other major sports, to stand right there with the Golden State Warriors would make a major impact on the off season in hockey.
NHL, as a fan, as a young fan of the game, I loved it the moment I picked up a hockey stick and strapped up the laces. I’ve loved the product on the ice, but now is the time to support more personality off the ice and promote the NHL to the younger demographic. Make The NHL Great Again.