Ice Hockey Around the World
One of the most cherished sports in North America, ice hockey has been enthralling fans for over a century. Every year, hundreds of ice hockey matches attract over a million fans at purpose built stadiums. Ice hockey enjoys a loyal fan following throughout North America with heavy TV and media coverage. Today, the Olympic sport is organized and regulated by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Over seventy nations are members of the IIHF including fifty two full member nations such as Sweden, Spain, Russia, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, France, Belgium and Austria. The sport is extremely popular in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Finland and Canada.
National Hockey League
Even though the IIHF governs ice hockey internationally, National Hockey League is considered to be the premier league in North America. The NHL comprises of thirty professional franchises from USA and Canada. The league was initially founded in Montreal, Canada in 1917 and has since then evolved into one of the most powerful ice hockey governing bodies. The league is home to twenty three teams from the US and seven teams from Canada. In 2009, the NHL set a record in television audiences as well as season attendance in North America. The league comprises of highly skilled players from over twenty different countries.
The ‘NHL Championship' trophy is called the Stanley Cup and is awarded to the league's winner after the conclusion of Stanley Cup Finals. The inaugural trophy was awarded in 1893 and was known as the ‘Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup'. Since then, the Cup has been awarded ninety-five times to twenty-three NHL teams. There are various anecdotes and legends surrounding the Stanley Cup and it holds an extremely prestigious position amongst all ice hockey fans. The Cup has been taken to war zones several times to boost the morale of US soldiers.
With a record twenty-five wins, Montreal Canadiens have bagged the Stanly Cup the most times. They are also the last Canadian based franchise to win the trophy. The reigning champion of NHL and current holder of Stanley Cup are Chicago Blackhawks, who won the 2013 Stanly Cup Finals after defeating Boston Bruins 4-2.
The Live Experience
NHL matches are popular for attracting large crowds especially during the regular season. Witnessing a live ice hockey match is always an exciting, edge of the seat experience for any sports fans. Ice hockey is also famous for its usual outbreaks and fights during the match, which the fans seem to enjoy. According to several research and studies, the NHL fan base is the most affluent and educated of the four major leagues in America including the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. Every year, thousands of hockey tickets are instantaneously bought by the fans before the playoffs. This season, the ice hockey craze continues around the country as top professional as well as amateur clubs like Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Pittsburg Penguins, Boson Bruins and Colorado Eagles continue to indulge in exciting ice hockey matches. The fans are advised to reserve their seats at the upcoming games of their favorite ice hockey clubs and enjoy thrilling action packed clashes.