Just a couple of days until the NHL Preseason game at Sprint Center. Let’s dispel some myths.
What the NHL Preseason Game is:
-A really good time for hockey fans in Kansas City.
We’re a bit of a displaced group. We’re usually discounted as a small group of transplants who worship a sport that few in Kansas City actually like. This, of course, is only sort of true. A good number of sports fans in Kansas City grew up playing the sport at Iceland South or King Louie. We’re not necessarily transplants. Our parents may have been transplants, but many of us are KC natives. Youth hockey participation continues to grow, despite the set back of having terrible business people owning the former ice facility at 135th and Quivera. Adult leagues in Kansas City are constantly full. Some of the players took up hockey as an adult.
It’s an “if you build it, they will come” sport. Dallas had virtually no hockey in the late 80s. The Stars came to town, built rinks so that the sport would grow. Now, the DFW Metroplex is producing top 5 picks in the NHL draft (Seth Jones).
-A chance to increase awareness of the really good minor league team we have in town.
Despite the fact that minor league teams have done relatively well in Kansas City, we’re constantly told Kansas City isn’t and can’t be a hockey town. We’re a good minor league hockey town. The Mavericks are consistently in the Top 20 for North American minor league hockey attendance. The Blades were well-attended back in the day, too. If you aren’t going to Mavericks games, you should. There’s a good chance KC is going to get bumped up to AA hockey with a pending ECHL/CHL merger. Maybe, someday, we’ll be an AHL town.
Regardless, more buzz about the Mavericks is a good thing.
Saturday night is like our Super Bowl. It’s our chance to get together and celebrate the game we love.
What the NHL Preseason Game is NOT:
-A showcase for the NHL.
The NHL doesn’t care one bit what the attendance is for this game. They’re “not watching” as some people would claim. The NHL isn’t watching attendance in London, ONT, Saskatoon, Quebec City or Las Vegas either. Is the NHL watching games in Bridgeport, CT, Colorado Springs and Stockton, CA, too? Of course not.
-A gauge of interest in an NHL team in KC
If attendance is good, it doesn’t mean KC can support an NHL team. It’s a Saturday night game featuring the Blues. Attendance should be good. That means nothing.
If attendance is bad, it doesn’t mean KC cannot support an NHL team. It’s September. It’s not the post-NFL timeframe of January – March when the NHL really thrives. It’s a preseason game. Attendance, interest, media attention would be far, far different if it were a NHL team in a March playoff race or playoff game.
The bottom line is — Go to the game. Have a good time. Go to the Blue Line and have a beer. Just avoid all the NHL talk. It takes away from the fun of the night.