Coaching seems to be more interested in schemes for possessing the puck, and making plays of skill with it, than they are dumping and chasing, crashing and banging, pinging and ponging.
Players are the most media-savvy ever to enter the NHL.
The sport feels ‘modern’.
Hockey appears to be pretty good at social media.
Other leagues are copying NHL initiatives (video replay, speed of play, rule changes to protect players).
Goaltending: Still very important, and excellent, but despite being the most coached position in sports, it is no longer dominating the sport at the level it once was. (Chicks dig offense)
TV deals in Canada and the US are guaranteeing major exposure.
A World Cup is coming.
A slew of young, talented, American players are filling NHL rosters (Note: America is a big market).
Canada is going to get more team(s).
Streaming Digital is going to further open up (and potentially explode) non-North American markets.
The playoffs have become a two-month long viewer/fan recruiting film.
More people than ever have at least a cursory knowledge of the game.
In-arena fan entertainment has never been better (Matrix boards and talented young people in NHL creative departments have taken the lead in this).
Rule changes have become ‘little tweaks’ rather than sweeping alterations.
Lightly penalized fighting is endangered
The resident, one-dimensional team cop – as respected and revered as he has been in past – is becoming extinct (Gotta be able to play a little).
Long-standing ‘rivalries’ have been rekindled (Hate is great).
Thanks in large part to social media, top players are no longer mysteries as they enter the league.
Lockouts – painful as they were – have worked (Revenue has exploded).
The KHL is not the threat some felt it was going to grow to be.
The speed of play is at an all-time high.
Access to the game’s fascinating, gutty, funny, unfettered and uncensored ‘reality’ is improving (In spite of the Leafs and Red Wings).
I’ll still be commenting on it.