I'm not one of those conspiracy theorists that thinks that Gary Bettman was sent to the NHL by the NBA to destroy the league. That being said, I don't understand the NHL's logic in scheduling league events that coincide directly with the NBA. Why schedule the NHL Draft on the same week as the NBA Draft?
I understand that they want the draft to be before the July 1st start of free agency and they have limited time between the end of the Stanley Cup Finals and July 1st. With the NHL Draft the day after the NBA Draft, what league do you think is going to grab the headlines and media attention? Why not have the draft another week when less is going in the sports world and not on a Friday night? Let's be honest, the only people at home watching Versus on a Friday night are us loser bloggers reporting live from "our mother's basement".
The NHL needs to realize that like it or not hockey has become a niche sport in the Lower 48. If the NHL ever wants to elevate its league back to mainstream status in this country, they need to position the league in a way that it has a chance to succeed. It is hard enough, for the casual fan to be interesting in the NHL Draft. Part of that is the fact that it is easier to be interested in a draft involving blue chip college athletes that sports fans have watched all season on national TV than a bunch of 17 year old kids from places with names like Medicine Hat and Saskatoon. I get that. Maybe the NHL Draft is just one of those events that only hardcore puckheads can get into. Then again maybe if they didn't bury the NHL Draft on Versus on the Friday night immediately following the NBA Draft, they would be able to turn a few casual fans into die-hards.