Be Careful What You Wish, Commish

Gary Bettman cannot be too thrilled about the looming pairings for the Stanley Cup finals. In the East, Gary better be wearing his Bruins underoos as the puck drops on Boston-Tampa Bay series on Saturday, May 14th. Boston is the only team from the original six and the only large market team left in the Conference Finals. Although the Lightning have a couple players with some fire-power in Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, the Florida market for hockey is one of the leagues weakest – the Lightning and the Panthers round out two of the NHL’s five lowest rated fan bases. The fans in San Jose seem to care about the Sharks, but  they might be the only ones. Sharks Defenseman Dan Boyle was San Jose’s lone All-Star and rank and file players like Marleau, Clowe and rookie Couture do not generate a great deal of interest outside of the 408 area code.

If history gives us any indication of where this year’s final may be headed from an outreach and viewership analysis, in 2004 Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals featured Calgary squaring off against Tampa Bay and drew the lowest-rated game for a Stanley Cup Finals since 1990,…and Calgary is a Canadian team. A Vancouver-Tampa Bay series does not bode well for NHL viewership. Even more troubling for positive Canadian numbers is the composition of the Canucks team. Vancouver’s five most productive point-scorers are the Sendin twins (Swedes), Ryan Kessler (American), Mikael Samuelsson (Swede) and Christian Ehrhoff (German). Vancouver does have a few Canadian skaters, but the studs on that team are foreign-born.

So, Commissioner Bettman, rub your lucky rabbit’s foot and hope that your plans to Americanize the NHL by developing small market teams in cities where it never snows does not backfire into a virtually unwatchable San Jose/Tampa Bay Finale.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply