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Mainstream columnist slams NHL, mockery follows

May 7, 2010, 7:34 PM EST

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Stop me if you’ve read a piece like this before.

The NHL playoffs have actually been outstanding to watch. They’ve outdone the NBA’s playoffs for drama and in some ways are better than the early rounds of last year’s NFL postseason. Plus, as far as we know, hockey doesn’t have its own version of troglodytic asshat Ben Roethlisberger dragging the image of the sport into a toilet.

Still, despite a great postseason, few are watching hockey nationally and the post-Olympic bump that was supposed to help has been a molehill, not a mountain. It’s a sad statement on how most of this country really feels about hockey and unfortunately that statement is, “Who cares?”

Those are the words of CBS Sports’ national columnist Mike Freeman. We’ve been down this road before many times hockey fans and it just continues to get dumber and dumber to read stuff like this year in and year out. As expected, Freeman’s piece continues on to poke fun at the NHLs television ratings and even though that’s always good and fun, there are signs that things are turning around in the more important demographics for advertisers.

The saddest part of this for poor Mike Freeman is that his willful ignorance shines through because, as Steve Lepore from Puck The Media also shares with us, it’s not just the NHL markets where viewership is picking up.

Below is a summary of the U.S. markets experiencing the biggest increases for the first round on VERSUS, NBC and VERSUS/NBC combined (metered market ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research):

NHL QUARTERFINALS ON VERSUS

Birmingham – up 200%

Norfolk – up 200%

Chicago – up 133%

Louisville – up 100%

San Antonio – up 100%

Knoxville – up 100%

Cleveland – up 100%

Dayton – up 100%

San Diego – up 100%

Richmond – up 100%

Raleigh – up 100%

Kansas City – up 100%

Greenville – up 100%

Perhaps Mike Freeman would like to spend less time listening to LeBron James whine about his wonky elbow and spend a little more time watching some guys Marc Savard, Simon Gagne and Mark Stuart who are actually hurt continue on through the playoffs without making a big deal about it.

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