Originally Posted by esquire
I agree completely. In my travels to NYC it is clear that the local teams that are topics of water-cooler conversation are the Giants and Yankees, followed closely by the Jets, Mets and Knicks. The Rangers and the Nets are in the middle, followed by the teams on the periphery that barely register in the mainstream consciousness like the Islanders, the Devils, Red Bull and St. John's.
Even though it's an original 6 market, hockey is just not a big deal in NYC. In some ways it's a crazy fluke that they even ended up with 3 NHL teams. I know the Islanders exist only because the NHL wanted to keep the WHA out of the then-new Nassau Coliseum in the 70s.
And lets not forget NJ's never-ending financial issues.
Hockey is about as niche and non-mainstream in the US as it gets. At least among 20-somethings, I feel like soccer (especially EPL and MLS) combined are a bit more popular. And that says something.
Toronto is the NHL's most valuable franchise -- valued at about $1 billion; approximately twice the value of the Montreal Canadiens. Toronto has the world's largest and best development league (GTHL). Southern Ontario produces more players than any other province or state. Toronto produces more players than any other city in the world.
Obviously, if you carve out some ethnic enclave, you can point to it and say, HA! No hockey fandom there. But even then, Toronto is a lot like Vancouver in that many South Asians and East Asians, especially of second generation, follow the Leafs avidly. Although many will also follow, for example, the Raptors.
There are dozens of examples of Toronto not adopting something because it is not international enough, or adopting something because it is international. Hockey is not an example of that. Hockey is very domestic. As someone living in the US, hockey is definitely small potatoes here.