Over 44 million viewers in the United States and Canada tuned in to NBC for Sunday's gold-medal game between those teams to decide the Olympic men's ice hockey tournament, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman reported during his radio program on Thursday.
The ratings for the game surpassed all World Series telecasts since 2004 as well as NBA and NCAA games since the late 1990s.
"It's a testament to our game, our players and the Olympic platform," Bettman said.
Turning his focus to "the digital era," he pointed out a number of figures that further illustrated the popularity of the Olympics among hockey fans.
There were 21.2 million article reads on NHL.com during the month of February, which is 18 percent more than the next highest month.
Even social networking sites reflected the trend -- in the 25 minutes between American player Zach Parise
scoring the game-tying goal and Sidney Crosby
netting the winner that brought gold home to Canada, there were approximately 3.5 million Facebook status updates, a considerable spike.
"Off the charts," Bettman described it. "Facebook is acknowledging that something spiked it, and unless somebody can attribute it to anything else, I'm assuming it was all the attention that the gold-medal game got."
In addition, at 6 p.m. Sunday, right after the game had been decided, 1.2 million "tweets" on Twitter were about Crosby.
Bettman also addressed the issue of the 2014 Winter Games after a caller insisted NHL players should participate. He said a decision hadn't been made yet and it was important to look at precedence that generally these things aren't decided this far in advance.
"When we left Salt Lake in 2002, we didn't know if we'd be going to Torino in 2006 or Vancouver in 2010," Bettman said. "We don't know who the broadcaster is yet -- NBC or any of the broadcasters haven't committed yet. There are a whole host of things that have to be focused on -- what the exact schedule will be, going halfway around the world's a little bit different than going to Vancouver in terms of how long the break is going to have to be ... lots and lots of issues to be decided, and it's something that we'll decide with the Players Association at the appropriate time. There's no rush to do it."