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Undercovering the Cup

May 23, 2008
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Bad news for the NHL today in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

According to the article, outside of Detroit and Pittsburgh only eight daily newspapers in the United States are staffing this year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Eight.

The newspapers staffing the final are The Boston Globe, New York Post, The Denver Post, Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, USA Today and The Columbus Dispatch, which is a three-hour drive from Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times had originally planned not to cover the final but editors were intrigued by the Penguins/Red Wings match-up, the article said.

This is particularly bad news for the league given that this is a pretty ideal final for the NHL. You’ve got Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury and the upstart Penguins against an Original Six powerhouse in Detroit.

Hockey will never rival football or maybe even basketball in this country but it certainly has a die-hard niche contingent on par with hardcore baseball fans, both in numbers and enthusiasm and frankly, it’s a better product to watch.

The first thing the NHL wants to do to increase the coverage of its league is get its games off Versus and NBC on weekends and back onto ESPN. If games are televised in primetime on the ESPN family of networks, even during the week, it will increase interest in the game, which has gotten better since rule changes allowed the league to showoff its speed. Without cooperation from ESPN, this league will fade even deeper into obscurity.

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