Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/05/06 at 09:37 AM ET
A year after returning from a labor dispute and a canceled season, the NHL is fighting the perception that it is a niche sport. Saddled with TV ratings lower than those for NASCAR and poker, and selling a sport whose players are overwhelmingly white to countries that are increasingly diverse, the NHL must find new ways to win fans' hearts and sponsors' dollars. Its past efforts have failed spectacularly, particularly at clarifying its rules and dispelling the myth that its players are toothless Canadian lumberjacks. After allowing the game to stagnate for a decade, the NHL last season introduced rules that sped up play and boosted scoring, giving it a good product to sell. Its sales methods, however, have had all the impact of a whisper at a rock concert. Television drives every league, and the NHL's vehicle is a go-kart carrying it on the road to ruin.continued (reg. req.)
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