Youngster’s Taking Over the NHL

More stories from Nathan Giocondo

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Patrick Laine of the Winnipegg Jets on the attack

It may always be the case that people will look fondly to the past with rose-colored glasses and remember when times were better.  In sports this is certainly true.  Whether it be the arguments over Tom Brady versus Joe Montana, Michael Jordan versus LeBron James or Floyd Mayweather versus Muhammad Ali people will always argue over who was better.  Older fans tend to lean towards the past as younger fans lead on the present.  The same can be said about eras of sports.  One sport that is in one of its most competitive, and prosperous eras is the NHL.  It can be said that the golden years of the NHL were in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s when players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Paul Coffey were wowing fans and dominating the league.  If fans agree the 1990’s were the golden era of hockey, then they must agree that today is the platinum era.

Hockey is growing as a sport in America.  In the last ten years, hockey viewership has trended upwards in the United States.  There could be a list of reasons, but the talent level of the NHL is one of the most likely reasons the NHL is on an upswing.  The league is saturated with stars, and characters.  There are distinctive categories of all-stars in the NHL right now.  There are older players who have been around for some years and are still producing, but then there is an influx of younger talent that has invigorated fans and increased competition.

Some older players that are still all-stars and league legends are Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Brad Marchand.  These players helped the NHL comeback in the early 2000’s after the lockout season of 2006.  Players like Crosby and Ovechkin are revered as all-time greats, some arguing that Crosby is the best of all-time.  The NHL has heavily advertised these players in the years past, but the torch is beginning to be passed on.  The influx of young talented players is higher than ever and the NHL has started to make these players marketable.

Players that are younger than most college students at Le Moyne are already taking the NHL by storm.  This amount of young talent is perfect for the NHL.  Players such as Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine have led the charge for the “babies” of the NHL.  McDavid was the fourth youngest MVP ever and is already the highest paid player in the league.  Matthews and Laine, each only 19 years old have already broke records for rookies and franchise records as well.  These players are not the only great young players of the league, but they are the best.  

With players such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews taking the league by storm other sensational teenagers, and twenty year olds have been pushed to the side.  Buffalo Sabres star player Jack Eichel is only 20 years old, but he too has already broken out as a superstar.  Eichel is not talked about as much as he would have been in another era simply because of the amount of superb talent in the NHL right now.

As youth hockey continues to grow in America, and as hockey continues to grow as a sport worldwide more young players will be rising through the ranks faster.  The NHL seems to have secured an exciting future for years to come, something not many other sports organizations can say.