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Why the NHL is having a big comeback season after overcoming the challenges of COVID-19

Like many organizations managing the complications of the pandemic, the NHL has suffered an incredible loss in 2020-2022.

Unsurprisingly, the league punched as hard as they could. It wasn’t perfect – perfection wasn’t really an option given the circumstances – but that sometimes what was offered bore little resemblance to the product they were hoping to sell. can be easily proved.

They did what they had to do and stayed alive. They played in front of everyone, got some sponsorship money, their salary caps and players’ wallets were squeezed, and the experience of going to a game meant that a few fans were finally allowed into the building. It was weird and a little uncomfortable at first.

Even as the league was about to return to normal in 2021-22, the postponement and the strangest-ever suspension of the Olympics, and a season that lasted nearly until July, meant Sochi was left with dilapidated buildings during the Olympics. always felt like a way to paint the storefronts of It gives a feeling of ‘all is well, I can’t see anything here’.

But as I said at the beginning, they took those blows and kept fighting. That left the league reeling, still standing and fighting, barely hanging until the final bell of the round.

This summer, the league had to sit on a metaphorical stool in the corner to make plans for another round.Like Rocky, the league could still swing big.A comeback is possible. I am here to claim that I am finally in a good position to do so.

I expect that, so…

They finally got their normal start and end times

This year’s season starts on October 11th and ends six months later (April 13th). Not clean and tidy? (Yes, it started around the season before that, but after a very short summer that players didn’t enjoy.) Then we can get on board.

It will end at least a few weeks earlier than last season with a proper playoff schedule. There’s the usual little All-Star break, his two outdoor games in early 2023, and a proper season that gives fans an idea of ​​what to expect. That’s a good starting point.

The game has full fans and no limits

Without starting a debate about whether the pandemic is ‘over’, going to a game should return to perfectly normal. No masks, no restrictions on how food and drink are sold, just… good old hockey experience. It means rowdy fans and energy and everything that brings a strange game to life that needs help.

Fans at home also benefit from having proper access to media

For years, reporters have been close to the players and not able to figure out what’s going on with the team off the record. I couldn’t. They didn’t get the little nugget of internal drama from disgruntled players.

Of course, the team doesn’t like this part of the “report” coming back, but let’s face it. The NHL is an entertainment product and the human element is funny as hell. We would all benefit from the reporter having access to the locker room again. A zoom is enough.

Not yet, but soon the salary cap will start to rise

An estimated 10 million people per team by 2025-26. Now the really good teams are being punished for being good at the wrong time. Atlantic Summit – Florida, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Boston…it could be argued that at least his first three mentioned there all had to be a little bit worse, directly due to cap issues.

I know this doesn’t help right now, but it will help teams put in more money and retain players over the long term. You need to be able to build strong teams and bring them together as needed. Trades are fun for fans, but they get very tight when the goal is to get good players, and now good players need to be rewarded.

The league also has true prime-age superstars

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are still in the league (who did very well last year), but Conor McDavid and Ouston Matthews have taken over. It takes great players to keep fans interested, and although the NHL is currently only 25 years old, there are several older, legitimate superstars with more than six NHL seasons of experience. Can Matthews hit 60 goals (or more) this season? Will McDavid top last year’s 123-point season?

perfect place for events

Some years, the NHL All-Star Game is actually held in a small market with winter (ugh) and players can’t wait to do anything but attend the event. This year’s All-Star Game is in South Florida, and the NHL Draft is in Nashville. The only guarantee is more players and media participation.

We are also on the cusp of great growth in innovation

I don’t know what Sportsnet has been publishing, but I do know that there will be telecasts this year that will increase the use of interesting and entertaining information. Whether it’s due to the puck-tracking tech or the new camera angles, the game and how it’s presented to fans will start to look different in the seasons and years ahead.

I know this is very optimistic, but as a sports fan who has followed the game through dark times, I find so many cusps of light exciting. There are the usual problems that are not fun. People get hurt, executives get yelled at, and all other inevitable parts of business. But by and large, the NHL is in a good place to swing back after beating the last few rounds.