Hockey gets no respect from SI
To determine hockey’s popluarity in the US media, I’ve examined every cover of Sports Illustrated and tabulated the result by team and by year.There have been 77 cover stories about the NHL since SI began publishing in the mid 1950’s. Of those, 18 were about the playoffs. Gretzky made the cover 16 times, the most of any player or team. There were no cover stories about hockey in 2003. SI’s disinterest in hockey is not limited to the NHL. There has only been one cover story ever on an NHL prospect, and of the 30 times the Winter Olympics has been featured on the cover, hockey has been the sport only once.
For MLB, NBA and NFL, SI will write multiple stories per season about the playoffs and will write about any team or star with a long winning streak. SI reserves stories about the NHL for either once a year playoffs or top superstars. The only players still in the NHL about whom SI has done a cover story are Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and Brett Hull. Sports fans have not been properly introduced to any of the current top NHL players.
Gordie Howe made the cover four times. He was featured once each in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80s and was the only WHA player ever to make the cover.
NHL compared to other sports:
Tennis 90 (Anna Kournikova 1 cover, Sergei Federov 0.)
Horse racing 65
Auto racing 16
NHL cover stories by decade:
NHL Cover Stories by team:
Montreal 12 None since 1993.
Boston 10 One since the Orr and Esposita era
Rangers 10 Last was a 1994 story “ Why the NHL is hot and the NBA is not.”
Chicago 10 None since the days of Hull and Mikita.
Edmonton 8 All of Wayne.
Detroit 6 Steve Yzerman has none.
Los Angeles 6
NY Islanders 5
Pittsburgh 4 All of Mario.
St Louis 3
New Jersey 2
Columbus 1 Sadly, a story aboot the death of fan Brittanie Cecil.
Atalanta 1 A post 1980 Olympics – Atlanta Flames story about signing goalie Jim Craig.
Buffalo 1 None about Hasek.
Hartford 1 A story on the return of Gordie Howe to the NHL with the Whalers.
San Jose 0
Leafs 0 The only Original Six team with none. The Blue Jays have nine.
(Some covers were shared by two teams.)