NHL: Great game, good times for NHL
Muhammad Ali was at Joe Louis Arena, perhaps waiting for a fight to break out. One did in Game 7 of the NHL championships, but not in the traditional hockey sense.
The two heavyweights on Friday night were the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings and they played a Game 7 for the ages, one that was still in doubt into the final frenetic seconds. Ali was upstairs wearing a Red Wings jersey, but the knockout punch was scored by a Pittsburgh team led by a star so young he lives with the owner.
Bad mouth hockey no more. The fastest sport on ice is back.
Sure, the NBA playoffs may beat it in the ratings, but there was a lot to like about a Stanley Cup rematch that featured not only some of hockey’s brightest young stars but two teams that staked a claim to a great rivalry that could last years.
Forget for a moment that the NHL still allows its teams to play in places like Phoenix and Sunrise, Fla., where hockey is more of a curiosity than a way of life. Detroit and Pittsburgh are true hockey towns.
And if the Penguins and Red Wings are indeed the game’s future as they appear to be, the future is bright. Hockey, with a little assist from high-definition television, has an opportunity to both prosper and grow, something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
Without competition from the NBA playoffs NBC figures to come up with its best ratings numbers in years. If not, they should hang up the skates because the game was as exciting and suspenseful as any final in any sport.
The Penguins, even with star Sidney Crosby on the bench after taking a hard hit in the second period, held on for a 2-1 win that was all the more surprising considering they were blanked 5-0 in the same arena just two games earlier.