Hockeytown rules

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last night to win their fourth Stanley Cup in eleven years.

But the biggest winner was the NHL.

Ratings for last night’s Game 6 were up 17 percent from Game 5, and it was the most watched Game 6 in eight years (between the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars in 2000 on ABC.) Among adults 18-49, it averaged a solid 3.0 rating.

Pittsburgh led the overnight numbers, followed by Detroit (not counting coverage on cross-border CBC outlet CBET.)

The NHL clearly has bounced back after a disastrous lockout in the 2004-05 season, which wiped out the Stanley Cup Finals. This season, the NHL’s regular season and playoff games on Versus and NBC were up in the ratings, and the NHL’s website (NHL.com) is recording record page and video views.

And don’t forget the contributions made by the Chicago Blackhawks. Even though they haven’t made the playoffs this year, a number of fan-friendly moves – lifting the decades-long home TV blackout and bringing back former Blackhawk players as ambassadors (such as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Tony Esposito) – not to mention a young team headed by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – has gotten fans excited in the Windy City about hockey for the first time in over fifteen years. This can only help the NHL.

While it has a ways to go, there are sunnier days – (or should I say icy days) – for the NHL ahead.

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