Hockey is a sport for the graceful and the punishing, a sport in which the fans celebrate the speed and puck handling skills of a Wayne Gretzky and the fearsome force of protectors like Dave Shultz. It is a sport that begs for goals and blood, smooth passing and chilly checks, hot glove play and blue collar effort. It is one of the few team sports for the ice and one of the team sports with the most avid and dedicated fans. Hockey tickets are not for a game, they are for an experience unlike any sport (no other sport has anything like a Zamboni!).
There are plenty of professional hockey leagues around the world, but none are as star-studded as the NHL. The beloved AHL and ECHL only feed into the National Hockey League. For, it is the one association bringing the very best players from Europe, from the reaches of former Soviet Union Republics, from the United States and from Canada together to share the ice at major venues. It is the upper echelon of the sport and it draws millions with hockey tickets every fall and continues through winter, the spring, and ending with the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the summer.