Not since the 1980 miracle on ice have American fans been so mesmerized by a hockey team. Everything was going perfectly until Canadian Sydney Crosby netted an overtime winner in the 2010 gold medal match.
With 12:20 remaining in overtime Jarome Iginla delivered a spectacular near blind pass to a streaking Sidney Crosby who put the puck past a surprised Ryan Miller. Miller was playing some of the greatest hockey not only of his career, but of olympic history. He finished with a .935 SV% and 1.35 GAA and carried his teammates to the finals. As he collapsed to the ice, the red goal light shining on the back of his helmet, it is clear he was the most devastated player wearing blue.
Miller became a symbol of the team and was a beacon of light for USA when most people believed they had little chance of winning. Fans across the nation had gathered around him and Team USA as they made their run for glory. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner, alongside his alternates Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Dustin Brown, and Brian Rafalski were also key in making it to the finals.
One would think that the hockey craze would have ended with the heartbreak loss in Vancouver, but it was not the case. Fan interest only increased since the run. The sport’s popularity is on the rise in the states due in part to the olympic games.
With more fans exposed to the game the rest of the 2010 NHL finals saw some of the highest ratings since the 1970’s. The trend continued into 2011 with an even higher rated stanley cup final.
This leads us to the only thing that could have killed the momentum of the NHL. A lockout. The first half of the 2012/2013 season was plagued by a financial struggle between the players and owners who needed to agree on a collective bargaining agreement.
It is this kind of selfish behavior that led to the recent fall of ratings for the league. The lockout led to a decrease in viewer ratings and forced the league to miss the winter classic. A highly anticipated event for the league.
We can only hope that the fans will return and the next olympic games can rejuvenate the glory of hockey once again.