The last few weeks have reminded me that the NHL Playoffs are the most entertaining in all of sports. I love NFL football, but the playoffs are one-and-done and confined to weekends and don’t provide nightly excitement like Hockey does. The NCAA Basketball tournament is exciting and fun to throw money at, but the quality of play has deteriorated in recent years. There still isn’t an NCAA Football tournament and won’t be for some time (four teams does NOT make a tournament). The MLB playoffs are fine if you live in one of the big markets and can tolerate long stretches of guys just standing around chewing gum. The NBA playoffs may be the only one that compares to the NHL, but I’m just not a big fan— and because they overlap, fans are almost forced to choose between the two. The NHL playoffs feature 16 teams in Best-of-Seven series— so there are plenty of games to watch almost every night and the competition is balanced and intense. The game itself is fast-paced and exciting and the playoffs usually deliver.
Despite the insanely stupid re-alignment and the recent work stoppages, the NHL is a great product. It’s definitely a niche sport and will never be as popular as others, but there are many reasons to love it. One of the reasons is the uniqueness of the sport. Besides the obvious fact that it’s played on one inch of frozen water, the NHL definitely does many things to set themselves apart from other leagues. And it does so in a way that is not gimmicky or tired—a lot of it steeped in tradition. The things that set Hockey apart from the other sports are some of the reasons that make it so special. And so SmorgasBurgh presents:
10 Unique Things We Love About the NHL