As I wrote a few weeks ago, it was very easy for NHL experts and analysts to label the Los Angeles Kings a Cinderella story because of how bad they sucked early on in the season. They were bad enough to get their coach fired and they were bad enough early on that it took a hell of a late season run to avoid missing the playoffs entirely. But people conveniently ignored that the Kings were a sweetheart team before the season began, having made the playoffs last year and returning one heck of a talented squad.
Tonight, they can sweep the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup and put an exclamation point on an amazing comeback, but the problem isn’t that this was simply a team that just needed to get it right to become this good. It’s that nobody is even watching them now.
While Games 1 and 2 drew good ratings in New York and Los Angeles, according to figures provided by NBC, across the rest of the United States, overnight ratings for Game 1 were off 25 percent from last year’s Boston-Vancouver opener, and Game 2 was down 12 percent from last year.
The dropoff in national ratings for two of the N.H.L.’s non-marquee teams stands in contrast to the rise in ratings for the Oklahoma City-San Antonio Western Conference basketball finals, likewise involving two non-marquee teams. (Via the New York Times)
I’m not going to do the whole “Hockey is boring, that’s why nobody is watching” routine, because the Kings aren’t boring. They’ve been exciting as hell as they stormed to the Finals, so the problem has to be something else. And considering I can’t even tell you what time tonight’s game is or what channel it’s on, I’d say that the NHL should start with its marketing department.
Game 4 is at 8 p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Network, obviously. I know this because I had to go to NBC Sports and enter my zip code into the channel finder. Again, the problem isn’t that hard to pinpoint.