According to Sports Business Daily (reg. required), the Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Game drew an astronomical 17.6/33 overnight rating. This is up 46% from the 2002 USA/Canada showdown, and will very likely be the highest-rated hockey game since 1980. The share means that 1 in every 3 Americans with a TV were watching the game. This is, to put it professionally, out of this world.
Keep in mind that doesn't count the people who were watching it via streaming video on-line. If you don't think this was amazing PR for the sport, you're considerably off. Heck, I had people at work today ask me about the game who absolutely could care less about watching the sport, and they were just as excited as if we'd won.
Speaking of PR, I wanted to give some serious kudos to the Thrashers' marketing team with their "March to the Playoffs" idea. Media blitz and a half on radio this AM, handing out coffee at local AM/PM stores, a skills competition, and finally some serious focus on Kane and Bogosian on the splash page of the official website. Toss in the free tickets that STH got for the games tomorrow and Thursday, mix with some Olympic hockey excitement, and multiply times the huge crowd and great game we had on February 6th, and we'll be marchin' like Sherman.