LA Kings & NY Rangers Stanley Cup Final Should Earn More Fans
The L.A. Kings and NY Rangers played about as close of a five game series as any fan of hockey could ask for. The Stanley Cup Finals featured not one, or two, but three games that ended in overtime. The fifth and deciding game ending in the second overtime.
The NHL could not have asked for a more high-profile Stanley Cup Finals than the two teams facing off representing the top two markets in the United States. The L.A. Kings may have won the Stanley Cup in just five games, but the NY Rangers gave them a tough game throughout the series. The L.A. Kings were the first team to make it to the NHL Finals after playing three seven game series.
The Stanley Cup Finals had a smorgasbord of highlights including short-handed goals, plenty of breakaways, top-level goaltending, and big hits. The hometown crowds of both the L.A. Kings and NY Rangers were extremely engaged with the action and we assumed that trickled over to the home viewing audience.
The L.A. Kings and NY Rangers gave the NHL all they could to win back fans who still boycott the game since the year-plus long lockout in 2004-05 and again during the 2012-13 season. Even though fans were disgusted with the lockouts, the game came through much improved. Two of the biggest rule changes on the surface were the elimination of the two-line pass penalty and the icing rule change.
Doing away with the two-line pass penalty allows the game to flow much better and creates much better scoring chances and creates a much faster game on the ice, such as all those L.A. Kings breakaways. The icing rule change speeds the game up between puck drops. Although the icing team still has to give up ice position, the opposing team does not have to touch the puck in order for icing to be called, which eliminates a few seconds for each icing. This allows for more action during game play.
The NHL has struggled to find a mainstream audience in the United States due to the recent lockouts. However, the L.A. Kings brand of hockey and the excitement that they and the NY Rangers brought to a series which looked like a blowout on paper definitely delivered the best argument for why this sport should be once again reconsidered one of the top four sports in the United States. One issue that the NHL has had with growing their fan base is winning the hearts and attention of Southern US citizens. The L.A. Kings definitely brought hockey back in their market. The hope for the NHL is that some of that excitement carries over to other southern host cities.
The L.A. Kings recent Stanley Cup run makes them one championship away from officially being called a ‘dynasty’. If the L.A. Kings keep their core group of guys, like they did from their Cup run three years ago, they may be bestowed with the dynasty status before too long. This is something that the NHL desperately needs.