The NHL is starring down the possibility of a Stanley Cup final with some uninspiring names, and people seem to think that the league is sweating bullets over the possible ratings. And I don’t see a reason why.
The NHL already has a broadcast contract with NBC for the next few years. It’s the best deal with the most attention they could get (I haven’t heard a single complaint about hockey not being on ESPN this offseason). Had the league gone with the World Wide Leader, would you have seen as much of the first round as you have? No way. There isn’t the room for the kind of attention NBC has paid the NHL.
If the league actually were sweating the ratings, I would be concerned. Why worry about things you can’t change? Instead, the best teams playing in the finals is all the league should want. One that’s free of stretchers and controversies, one that showcases talent and speed, and one that writers a new storyline, something that isn’t a repeat of the old ones.
Imagine the other side: the league gets to showcase teams that don’t get as much attention, perhaps helping build a fan base for them. How much of a boost did winning a Cup give to Carolina? Now how much would a Cup win help the Coyotes? Or the Predators? Or the Blues? The national attention teams like Nashville and even Florida are getting are only going to help make the league healthier.
If I were the league, I wouldn’t worry about the ratings at all, and look forward to whatever comes their way. The timing couldn’t be better.