United States of Hockey has a great post up about the growth of hockey in the US: here. There’s a lot of great information, including this tidbit about North Carolina:
North Carolina had a significant 10.1 percent growth spurt in 2011-12. Like Tennessee, NC experienced across-the-board growth in youth hockey. Since the Hurricanes arrived in 1997, hockey participation has grown by 152.9 percent in North Carolina.
Obviously, having an NHL team is a big thing for NC’s hockey grown; an average of over 10% growth/year is nothing to sneeze at. I think it’s remarkable, though, that NC has seen such significant growth, considering the very real fact that the Hurricanes had such a bad year. The Hurricanes invest a lot of money in youth hockey programs, often recruiting vets like Brind’Amour to coach or drum up interest in the programs. This is the kind of long-term investment in hockey in the area that Karmanos & co can expect to see returned in fans and – eventually – elite players coming from the area. Five years ago, no one from North Carolina played in the OHL. This year, three kids from NC were drafted.
Call me a sap, but I think that’s really cool. Here’s hoping NC’s growth continues next season.