By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
On Wednesday night the New York Rangers will square off against the Los Angeles Kings in the 121st edition of the Stanley Cup Finals. While on paper this may appear to be a great matchup for the NHL with the teams from the top two TV markets squaring off but it could have been better if neither team was in it.
The Kings defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in a thrilling game 7 overtime game on Sunday night. It would have been better for the NHL if the Blackhawks won because they are a bigger TV market when it comes to hockey. In fact Chicago out did the LA as far as viewers are concerned during game 7 by a wide margin.
The Rangers are the Rangers. New York has a tendency to rally around their teams, and not just in New York City. The Buffalo Sabers actually came in second as far as local TV ratings go in the NHL this seasons despite finishing dead last in the league.
The Rangers will probably hold their own but that doesn’t mean that the countries number one TV market always turns out in droves for a New York area team.
Take 2012 when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup at the expense of the New Jersey Devils (who play in Newark, NJ which is in the New York City TV market.) The highest rated game for that series was the decisive game 6. That game did a 3.1 rating. That only would have been the fifth highest rated game in the 2013 Final when Chicago defeated the Boston Bruins in six games.
If the NHL could pick the two teams in the Stanley Cup Final based on TV ratings in the US, it would be a matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Both crush their local TV numbers and have players and brands that transcend the sport.
The fact is the NHL is happy with a Stanley Cup Final featuring teams from the two biggest TV markets in the US. Next time, they should look at their numbers and realize, like the NFL has, that LA isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and it’s better to have a matchup between Original Six teams.