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NHL draws highest TV ratings in 36 years

Last Updated: Thursday, June 10, 2010 | 8:40 PM ET

The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after winning the Stanley Cup on Wednesday. The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after winning the Stanley Cup on Wednesday. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

NHL television ratings have bounced back from the post-lockout doldrums — and way beyond.

The clincher of the Stanley Cup finals was the most-watched and highest-rated NHL game in 36 years.

The Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6, which earned them their first championship since 1961, drew a 4.7 rating and 8 share Wednesday night on NBC.

That's the best since a 7.6/27 for Game 6 of the Boston-Philadelphia series in 1974. It was 38 per cent higher than the 3.4/6 for last year's Pittsburgh-Detroit Game 6 and 9 per cent higher than the 4.3/8 for Game 7 in 2009.

The network said Thursday that the game was watched by 8.28 million viewers.

In Canada, Game 6 averaged 4.077 million, the highest audience ever for a U.S.-U.S. match-up on CBC for the Stanley Cup final. The final averaged 3.107 million viewers, a 44 per cent increase over 2009.

Comparing the numbers, however, is difficult because a new audience-measuring system that has seen sports ratings skyrocket was introduced in September.

The series' average rating in the U.S. was a 3.4/6, the best on network TV in the since Carolina-Detroit in 2002 and up 10 per cent from last year.

"This has been a special year for hockey beginning with the Winter Classic continuing through the Olympics and ending with this incredibly exciting Stanley Cup final," NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer said in a release.

Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program. Shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.

Game 6 drew a 32.8 rating and 50 share in Chicago, which means that half of all homes with televisions in use were tuned into the game.

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