The National Hockey League is trying to kill itself.
Maybe it’s not doing it on purpose, but it’s doing it non-the-less.
Wednesday night was Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The Los Angeles Kings entered the game with a 3-0 lead over the New Jersey Devils.
It was a chance for the Kings to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Los Angeles was a Cinderella story. They are the eighth seed and have been flying through the playoffs. It’s been fun to keep up with.
As with other sports I really don’t follow that closely (NBA, WNBA, PGA, NASCAR, tennis), I’ll keep up with what’s going on casually and pay attention a little more closely once it matters.
I don’t care who wins in the first round of the French Open. But I care who is in the semifinals and finals.
I could care less about the NBA regular season. But I’m watching the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs as I write this.
Who care how golfers do on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But when the leads tee off on Sunday, I’ll be keeping tabs on them.
I think you get my point.
Well, as Game 4 was Wednesday night, I was looking forward to watching as the Kings could have won their first Cup in history.
But I couldn’t.
Apparently, I don’t get the channel the game was being broadcast on.
NBC decided to have a re-run of some show (I don’t even know what it was) and put the potential Cup-clinching game on NBCSN (I don’t even know what that is). I do know NBCSN used to be Versus — I didn’t get that either.
The Devils won the game — thanks ESPN for telling me — so there will be more hockey this year.
But they have lost me.
Games 1 and 2 were fantastic.
Games 3 and 4 were basically blackouts for me.
I don’t watch a lot of hockey during the regular season — even the Wild who play their home games three hours away. I don’t pick up a movie I haven’t seen halfway through.
So I won’t be tuning in to Game 5.
I do hope the Kings win. Sports love Cinderella stories. And I feel like they will win.
But I won’t be watching — unless something miraculous happens and there is a Game 7. Of course, by then I’ll probably forget they are even playing hockey.
And I haven’t been the only one who isn’t watching. The first two games had 2.9 million viewers. The third? About 1.75 million.
The population of Los Angeles is about 3.7 million.
If I’m a young child who is interested in sports and I turn on the TV Wednesday night, I see basketball.
I don’t see hockey.
So next time I have a choice, which one do I watch?
Probably not the hockey teams I can’t watch. Instead, I’m watching Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
I don’t think I could name more than one or two hockey players.
And I bet the casual fan couldn’t either.
So while sports like the NFL and the NBA continue to gain exposure and fans, the NHL will continue to fade.
But here’s the bottom line: Can you miss something you couldn’t see anyway?
Editor’s note: As I finish writing, OKC clinched a berth to the NBA Finals. Every game in the finals is on ABC, meaning anyone who can get an ABC channel will have the opportunity to watch the games. (Take note NHL)