It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the NHL has practically no fan base in America. Sure, there are some loyal cities. Colorado, Detroit, Philadelphia, etc. The problem? Even those places had their bad moments this year. What's the answer? A big market Stanley Cup.
I want to see Rangers-Red Wings.
Think about it. The markets of New York and Detroit, two of the biggest in America for ANYTHING squaring up in hockey's greatest game. Jagr and Hasek headlining the stars as Michael Nylander and Dan Cleary make for America's good guys. Sean Avery becomes the much loved villian while fans make a connection with coach Tom Renney. Ratings would skyrocket just because of the viewers in New York that would switch off the Yankees in order to see the Rangers in the Cup.
But is it possible? The Rangers are down 3-2 to the best team in the league. They had a 1-0 lead with 16 seconds to go in the last game and due to their inability to win faceoffs, put themselves in a position to lose and that's what they did.
So what if the Rangers did lose? Or what if the Wings lost as well? Here are the remaining teams and the impact they would have if they made the finals:
San Jose: The Sharks don't have a hot goalie. Joe Thornton has been forgotten by everybody not living in San Jose or Boston, and the market just isn't there. The Wings better finish them.
Anaheim: They would get more love than the Sharks and they have the stars that could attract viewers. Even the casual fans know the names 'Selanne' 'Pronger' 'Neidemayer' 'Giguere.' That alone might be enough to get some viewers watching.
Buffalo: They would actually get a decent crowd. They have no problem selling out their own arena, but if you ask anybody who their best player is, you'll get a few shrugs and some wiseguy who calls out the name Brett Hull for no reason other then Brett Hull is in every picture of the 1999 Cup.
Ottawa: Canada is going to be watching no matter what, but as far as America goes, a Canadian team even being involved in the Finals is a step down.