The Los Angeles Kings have had a pretty strange post season. They have completely dominated their opponents throughout each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and endeared themselves to an increasingly Twitterized public all the while California has no idea who they are. The Devils meanwhile, are having a perfectly Devils postseason: playing great, but no one cares. The Devils beat the Rangers to advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs and it was a referendum on the '94 series—as if they hadn't won the Stanley Cup the very next year, and twice more since. So very Devils.
It makes sense, then, that it is entirely possible this Stanley Cup Final will end in almost complete darkness. The team the internet—but no one else—loves could beat the team that some dudes from Jersey and Staten Island—but no one else—loves and it will have been an afterthought. The overwhelming majority of the sports-viewing public will be watching the NBA playoffs to see if LeBron can finally fit its impossibly specific definition of "great."
It's sad because who doesn't like to see the Stanley Cup hoisted? There is something about the Cup that puts all other championship trophies to shame. Yes it has a little bit to do with the engraved names. But, it also just looks old, like something worth pursuing. All the other trophies look like they could be models from a science fiction film. Despite the mythology of the Stanley Cup, or the fast-paced game, the NHL has had a problem getting the word out past the diehards and runs in to a lot of problems with access. As I type this I'm currently watching the back end of a European soccer double header on ESPN, by the way. Who would have guessed that ten years ago, Soccer would be routinely broadcast live on ESPN and Hockey could barely get some highlights. "I don't even know where NBCSN is on my guide" is a common refrain.
Maybe it's time the NHL get a little guerrilla with its product. There's only so much they can do about who broadcasts their product, contractually speaking. But they do have control over when it is broadcast. There was nothing on television last night except baseball. Maybe develop some kind of flex-scheduling process so games could be rescheduled. Especially when there is a superfluous day off like Friday. The NHL could see going up against a potential NBA Game 7 with big, big names was an issue a long time ago. It may prove to be a logistical clusterfuck in some cases, and shitty for fans with tickets, but not for the people watching from home. I'd like to watch the Kings try to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, but I'll be watching basketball, and maybe flipping over to hockey if I remember. I wouldn't have had that problem last night. I would have been strapped in.
And that's the problem for the NHL, it isn't so much "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." It's more "if you can't beat 'em, go where they ain't."