Lack of U.S. TV Coverage Hurts IIHF Hockey Popularity in the States

I’m a big fan of IIHF hockey, but it just seems like there isn’t enough on in the U.S.

In checking out my Twitter feed on Saturday after posting the 5 Reasons You Should Watch the IIHF Word Hockey Championship, I received a tweet from someone looking for the Slovenia-Belarus game because he’s a big fan of Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar.

Team Canada instructed by Dave Tippett
Team Canada instructed by Dave Tippett at last year’s IIHF hockey tournament. (Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)

I knew wasn’t on television anywhere, so I tried to do a little digging to help a fellow reader. I found a link of the official IIHF website that led to a Youtube channel.

I thought this would solve his problem, and he’d get to enjoy the game. However, this message came up when he tried to watch.

He was geo-blocked and that got me thinking. “Why is the IIHF not giving us more games to enjoy?”

I know Saturday was one of the greatest sports days with the NHL and NBA playoffs, the NFL Draft, the Kentucky Derby and the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. However, there were some lulls in the action and I would’ve loved to have watched some of the other games.

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Even NHL Network is missing out on the fun. The games aren’t there and only Team USA’s games are on NBC Sports Network. (Some of those are tape delayed.)

The other question I pose is “Is the lack of games hurting the popularity of the tournament in the U.S.?” I’ll put to you a list of fans that would love to see these games.

Fans of Certain Players

The lineups of most of the power teams in the IIHF World Championships are loaded with NHL players. Kopitar may be a person’s favorite player, but a person in the U.S. will probably miss out on seeing him until the Americans play Slovenia later in the preliminary round.

Plenty of fans like just individual players, and they might not get a chance to see these players.

Zaripov and Shirokov celebrate
Zaripov and Shirokov celebrate Russia’s first goal in the 2014IIHF hockey tourney against Finland (IIHF)

These certain players may not enjoy Stanley Cup glory this year, but these guys would love to add another international medal to their résumé. Seeing players on your favorite team do well will give a fan optimism going into the next season.

Fans of Certain Teams

The IIHF hockey tournament also gives fans a look into the future of their club. For example, Nashville Predators fans in the U.S. will get a good look at Harvard forward and draft pick Jimmy Vesey. However, they won’t get much of a chance to check out Switzerland forward and prospect Kevin Fiala.

RELATED: Team USA’s 2015 IIHF World Championship Schedule

They’ll also miss out on checking out Pekka Rinne in net for Finland, and young guys Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg on Sweden. Lots of fans also want to see the players on their respective teams play well and win a medal.

Fans From Different Countries

America has always prided itself on being a land with a lot of immigrants, but many of these expatriates still follow the country they came from. I know plenty of people through social media that come from Russia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic that are being shut out of checking out their favorite players.

I know there are online streams that advertise they have IIHF hockey games, but most of them are nefarious and will often leave your computer clogged dangerous adware that could harm your device and put your personal information at risk.

Fans of IIHF Hockey

We also have fans that like IIHF hockey no matter what teams are playing. I’d love to see Team Canada play because of their deep roster. I missed out on the exciting game between the Czech Republic and Sweden that opened the tournament. There are a load of potential matchups I’d like to see that I’ll probably miss out on due not being able to get these games in the U.S.

Plus, fans of their respective teams will also miss out on a shot at seeing what their upcoming competition has in store. I’d love to see what Russia had in store for us in their first couple games before taking on Team USA.

The Verdict

I know that some think the IIHF hockey tournament is a Mickey Mouse tournament that no one cares about, but I’m sure there are fans that would love to watch these games.

Fans in Canada are fortunate to get 58 of the 64 games on TSN, so North American fans aren’t completely shut out. However, I wish NBCSN or NHL Network would show more of these IIHF hockey games to its American subscribers.

Maybe that’s why no one cares about IIHF hockey in the United States.

Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.