Friday, February 1, 2008

Why Buffalo is the most hockey friendly city in the US

Following the Ice Bowl a lot of thought was given to where the hockey had the most support in the United States based on the television viewership numbers for the event. This analysis was disputed, as there were a few oddities in the list, and considerations that had to be made for competing football games and such. The game got the best ratings in Buffalo, although it would be a mistake to look into that too much, as the event was huge in the area, and the second highest city was Pittsburgh, home of the competing penguins.

A more neutral location, not competing against any other big time sporting events is needed to make more accurate comparisons. Such as the all-star game, which has gotten higher viewership numbers in Buffalo than anywhere else in the country for two straight years. While this would have been expected last season when the Sabres had a very good team, three players starting, a coach behind the bench, and another player in the young stars game, that doesn't explain the events popularity in Buffalo this season.

This year Buffalo only sent a single defenseman in a game noted for it's lack of defense, and yet with a 3.3 rating, the Buffalo market was the strongest in the US. There is no disputing or writing off those numbers. With no reason to watch, Buffalo has proven itself to be the best hockey city in the country.

The Sabres play tonights game against the Atlanta Thrashers without recently injured forward Drew Stafford, but should get Max Afinogenov returning to take his place. Otherwise Paetsch is likely to be brought in as a forward. The Thrashers are in worse position without their leader and primary goal scorer Ilya Kovalchuk for the game.

Buffalo has not yet announced who will be captain for the month of February, but I would guess that Pominville gets it, while Hecht and Campbell stay on as alternates.

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