More afternoon games could boost NHL popularity
Aleksander Barkov is quick to point out the
NHL is so popular in Finland that tickets to two games in Helsinki sold out in less than five minutes.
“It shows how much they love the game,” the Florida Panthers captain said. “There’s good reason to do that every year.”
The NHL plans just that after Commissioner Gary Bettman announced initial plans for a 2019 season opener in Prague, two regular-season games in Stockholm and exhibitions in Germany and Switzerland. The Panthers and Winnipeg Jets played the 24th and 25th regularseason games outside North America on Thursday and Friday at packed Hartwall Arena in the Finnish capital.
As the league sows seeds of interest in new markets like China, it also continues to cultivate interest in established hockey countries such as Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. There’s a modest proposal for continuing to stoke the interest in the sport in Scandinavia and across Europe.
“One thing that I know former players have been talking about is maybe more games earlier on the weekends so they can actually watch,” said Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who is Swedish.
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