As the NHL sorts out the details of finishing its season, one ESPN personality took a gratuitous shot at the sport.
Speaking on “First Take” on Thursday, Max Kellerman said “no one really cares about hockey” in the country, adding that it wasn’t one of the four major sports.
On the show, Kellerman said, “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in the United States of America, no one really cares about hockey. The old joke is, in every town there’s 20,000 hockey fans [and] they all have season tickets. So the arenas are always sold out, but the TV ratings don’t do anything. It’s not one of the four major team sports.”
Kellerman didn’t say what he considered the fourth major team sport to be to go along with the NBA, NFL and MLB, but he did manage to draw the ire of ESPN colleague Linda Cohn. The longtime ESPN “SportsCenter” host is a die-hard Rangers fan.
ESPN has often been criticized for its lack of hockey coverage and as observers pointed out, while the TV ratings for the NHL lag well behind the other three major US sports, they are also significantly better than the numbers for any other sport or league, like the MLS.
And last year’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between Blues and Bruins drew the league’s largest audience of the decade.
Depending on what happens in the coming months, the NHL could also have a lot of eyes on it this summer in a potential 24-team playoff tournament that will determine the Stanley Cup winner.