The NHL is the biggest sport in the world and the most lucrative in the sports business, but it’s also an unnatural place for the NHL to play.
That’s according to the NHL’s top executive and vice president of hockey operations, Mike Babock.
And the problem is, the league is just as unnatural a place for its players as any other.
“It’s a natural place for us to play,” Babcock said on Thursday, “but it’s not natural.”
The NHL’s rules, Babcock pointed out, are more natural than the NBA or the NFL, two leagues that are more financially stable than the NHL, which has a much lower television audience.
But while the NHL has never been an easy sell, Babock said the league will be open to changing its game and will explore new ways to attract and retain fans.
The NHL has always tried to be open-minded to new ways of doing things, Babck said.
It has embraced social media and its online content, and has partnered with ESPN and the NBA to provide video games for fans to watch and participate in.
“But there are other ways we can be more effective and more entertaining,” he said.
“We’re not going to be perfect.”
Babock said that while the league’s revenue is down from last year, it will continue to expand its television deals, which it recently announced.
But he said the financial issues facing the league aren’t insurmountable.
The $7 billion deal to broadcast the Stanley Cup playoffs from 2019 to 2021 is the most successful for a television network.
The deal has also given the NHL an opportunity to increase its exposure, Baback said, by making it easier for fans and players to watch the games online.
“I think it’s just a great opportunity to go out and find a way to increase our exposure,” he told reporters.
“And to have that opportunity to find a home for our sport is a great thing.”
Babies acknowledged the league might not always be the most popular sport in America, but he said it has been among the most profitable.
“The sport has always been one of the most sustainable, it has always had a fan base,” Baback told reporters, adding that it will remain that way even if hockey ratings continue to decline.
The league has seen its ratings drop in recent years, with the average audience dropping 13 percent from 2016 to 2017.
The trend is in line with the decline of the NBA’s popularity, which peaked at more than 40 million viewers a game in 2012 and has since fallen to about 20 million.
Baback said he’s not worried about the NHL declining.
The Stanley Cup will be played in Chicago in 2019 and the NHL will play in the United States in 2021.
“That’s the future for us,” he explained.
“So it’s good for us that we’re continuing to be here.”
Babs said the NHL could be looking to expand to the United Kingdom or other countries in the future, but the league has always said that the Stanley Cups would be played here in North America.
And Babock pointed out that the NHL and its owners are still trying to figure out how to get the game into more countries.
He said the owners are trying to be as creative as they can with marketing and marketing initiatives, like their “Hockey Night in Canada” promotion that is airing on the CBC and other broadcasters in Canada.
“Obviously, that’s not going anywhere,” Babock added.
The latest Sportsnet rankings show the NHL with the eighth-most fans, behind the NFL and the NFLPA.
The ratings have been declining in recent seasons, and the league also said it will look to expand in Europe.
The NHL had hoped to play in Europe before the NHL lockout ended in the winter of 2016.
“This is a business decision, and it’s one we’ve made in the past, and we’re not changing our plans,” Babac said.
The current season runs from March 14 to April 30.