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June 20, 2023

The Not-So-Exciting Stanley Cup Finals (2 minute read)

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By Trish Arab

As some may know, I am a recovering Montreal Canadiens fan.  They have broken my heart one too many times (including just two short years ago when they somehow made it into the Stanley Cup final) for me ever fully to embrace them, or hockey for that matter, fully ever again.  

That being said, at the start of this year's playoffs, I couldn't help but pay attention.  Three Canadian teams were in it, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and every Canadiens fan's mortal enemy, the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The second round saw Edmonton and Toronto advance (the first time since 2004 for the Leafs).  By the time we got to the Conference Finals, we had entered into what has to have been the most boring playoffs in any significant sports franchise.  Florida Panthers vs Carolina Hurricanes (ok, so Carolina isn't so bad) in the East, and Las Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars in the West - I had to look it up three times before I remembered all of the teams; that's how uninspiring these matchups were. 

Viewership increased from previous years by 4% for the first round but then dropped by 13% for the conference finals.  I know that Canadian fans don't have the population to contribute that strongly to those numbers, so one has to figure that most northern US fans don't care about the Florida Panthers or the tourism scheme that are the Las Vegas Golden Knights (fun fact, the team was brought to Vegas purely for marketing purposes, to draw tourists from colder northern regions to Vegas during hockey season). Nonetheless this was the match up for the Stanley Cup Finals

The Golden Knights were my preferred team of choice.  They have been a dominating presence since they came in as an expansion team in 2017 and have been in the playoffs for their first four seasons and now won in their sixth.  Their Head Coach, Bruce Cassidy, played a good part of his career here in Nova Scotia when we were a part of the American Hockey League (AHL), and prominent Lebanese business moguls own 30% of the team, The Maloof Family of Sacramento Kings (and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) fame.  Still, even with these ties, I did not care much about how these finals went. 

Does hockey need a resurgence?  What hockey needs is for Gary Bettman (the NHL's Commissioner since 1993) to remove the salary cap so maybe cities with solid fan bases wouldn't be penalized for it, and perhaps you don't end up with a swamp and a desert as the locations for an ice hockey final. 

For something a bit more fun than this year's Stanley Cup Final, check out one of Tidal League's first productions, "Hoops and Habs" with Jay Baruchel and Eoin O'Callaghan.