Why the Chicago Blackhawks Will Not Win the Stanley Cup

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Hoisting Lord Stanley above ones head might possibly be the most rewarding moment in a hockey players career. Not just because it’s the pinnacle of the sport but because the NHL has the most grueling playoff system in professional sports. It’s grueling because it follows a grueling season (even a shortened one). How grueling is the NHL season? We took a closer look at this season and it may point to the best team in the NHL not winning the Stanley Cup.

Habs v Senators

We looked at 2 specific categories in this lockout shortened season. Back-to-back games and consecutive road games. The Edmonton Oilers led the league with a 9 game (17 day-ish) road trip. Nashville was second with a 7 game (14 day-ish) road trip. To add insult to injury for Nashville, the start of that road trip was the second half of back-to-back games. Neither Edmonton nor Nashville made the playoffs. 7 teams tied with a 6 game road trip (Columbus did it twice) and of those, 4 teams made the playoffs. One of those is the NHL’s best regular season team the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago and New Jersey tied for the most back-to-back games this season with 11. Anaheim and Detroit were second with 10 and 8 teams tied with 9. Of those 8 teams only 3 made the playoffs.

There are lot of variables out there that one can look at but when you see that the leagues best regular season team is at the top of these 2 categories you’d have to wonder if they have enough gas in the tank to win the Cup.

Another note, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference did not play each other this year due to the short schedule. However the Western Conference does have 4 teams in the playoffs that play in the central time zone with Chicago being one of them. Every team in the Eastern Conference plays in the eastern time zone and no one travels south of Washington DC.

Add this together and it is more than likely that a team from the Eastern Conference will have an advantage when it comes to winning this years Stanley Cup.

The NHL Is Back! Does Anybody Care?

The LA Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup on June 11, 2012. Champions of the NHL. They’ll begin their title defense on January 19th, 2013. That’s 221 days for those of you keeping track. 221 days since the NHL last played a game. 510 regular season games were cancelled due to the labor dispute that led to the NHL’s lockout. The 2nd in less than 10 years. The question everyone is asking now is, now that the NHL returns to the ice will there be anyone there to cheer them on?

One of the toughest jobs in North America right now has to be that of a Marketing/PR person for the league and its 30 teams. From Miami to Winnipeg and Vancouver to Raleigh, people are trying to figure out how to get the fans back. Apologies have been posted, some more heartfelt than others, and deals galore. While no one has gone the overt route of free tickets & beer there have been some pretty good ones from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Are 25% discounts at the team store, free nachos, and the equivalent of $8 tickets enough to get people to come back to the arena? All the while battling traffic, paying for parking, and dealing with crowds? Will the fans return to the sports bars and buy food and drinks? Will they even watch when they’re at home? Will they care?

The answer is that we’re not going to know until they drop the puck. People may say one thing and do another. Even the people who say that they are done with hockey may return next season. We just don’t know. The promotions help but PR and marketing can only do so much. Eventually the play on the ice has to be compelling enough for the people to come back.