Thursday, August 19, 2010

Growing The Game

Late last week I read a great article by Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. Burke was also the GM of this year's USA hockey team that competed in the Winter Olympics for the non hockey crowd.

The full article can be read here: Brian Burke: The World Awaits

In the article, he discusses some of his thoughts on how the game of hockey can better promote itself by growing even at the smallest levels. I am not going to pretend I am a hockey genius like Mr. Burke, but I have to say that I like a lot of his ideas. Being a fan in a non traditional hockey market, I think some of his ideas can be implemented in growing hockey not only abroad but in some of the sun belt teams.

I also liked his idea bout resurrecting the World Cup of hockey, but with more promotion and hype added to it. The last World Cup was played in 2004 and you were hard pressed to find any games outside of the USA ones on any sort of media outlet. The USA games were shown on ESPN, but that's about it. I believe it was the game that Canada played against the Czech republic in the tournament several years ago that was finally shown on ESPN. The game went into overtime, the coverage did not.

The World Cup for soccer could be seen as a good model for how the World Cup of hockey could be presented. I mean, look at how many people watched the World Cup and became obsessed with vuvuzelas this summer when they don't follow MLS or international football. It is definitely something I think the league should explore, especially if they decide to stop participating in the Winter Games. In a lot of parts of Europe, the demand for hockey is huge.

Recovering from a bit of a stomach bug, so I leave you with a quote from Mr. Burke's article that pretty much sums up my love of hockey:

"We are blessed in our game. While our players are the greatest athletes in the world, they are also the greatest ambassadors in sports. They are gracious, courteous and accommodating with fans and the media, active in their communities and patriotic. They make the game special."

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