Puck Daddy has a "5 Reasons why I love hockey" series going over at Yahoo! Sports, and I decided to do my own 5 reasons list.
5. Short breaks. On TV, after you watch hockey for a while, it's impossible to watch anything else (aside from soccer). During play, interruptions generally last no more than 30 seconds. Very helpful for impatient fans who want to see action rather than reasons to buy gardening tools on TV.
4. Young and old. I love seeing young players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, even Teemu Selanne in 1993 tear up the opposition. But they're not the only ones. Two years ago, Joe Sakic had 100 points as a 38-year old. Nicklas Lidstrom has won 6 Norris Trophies since he turned 31. Martin Brodeur is still arguably the best goalie in the world, despite approaching 40. Chris Chelios was a regular for Detroit in the 2009 postseason at age 48.
3. Team first. LeBron James made the Cleveland Cavaliers go from worst-to-first. This is not possible in hockey. It's a team sport in the true sense of the word. Goalies aside, players don't play more than half the game, let alone all of it, and most players don't even play a fourth of the game. Not only that, but chemistry is important. A team with great team chemistry but lacking elite talent could beat a team of all-stars simply because they know each other better and can therefore play smarter. A player can lead his team to a championship, but never will a player singlehandedly carry his team to it.
2. The atmosphere. The atmosphere at a hockey game is amazing, and that's only in DC. In hockey-crazed cities like Montreal and Toronto...well, it's difficult to describe. The fans cheer in unison out of the blue (and in the wrong language). The crowd goes wild after a goal by the home team. Hurling insults at road teams and fans. And occasionally messing with the road team's coach in a playoff game.
1. Parity. The parity in hockey is amazing. In the NBA, would the 6 seed be able to knock off the 1st, like Carolina did to Boston? Would all four lower seeds in a conference be able to upset the higher seeds in the same year? Can teams go from worst-to-first in under 5 years, without any high-profile trades or free agent signings? Can virtual-unknown Switzerland (quick, name their best player?) beat global perennial superpower Canada (who arguably can send three teams to an internation competition and come away with three medals) in the Olympics? You betcha. And this parity fosters excitement. No win is automatic or easy.