Potential Rangers-Kings Stanley Cup Final Likely Would Earn Big Ratings For NBC
The NHL would "clearly receive a huge ratings and PR boost should the Rangers and Kings face each other in the Stanley Cup Final, according to Stuart Levine of DAILY VARIETY. The ratings bar "was set high last year" as the Bruins-Canucks Cup Final Game Seven "drew 8.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched NHL game in 38 years." The Rangers have not won the Stanley Cup since '94 and the Kings have never won a championship, "so anticipation and viewership in both cities would be high." NBC Sports & NBC Sports Network President of Programming Jon Miller said, "New York and Los Angeles is a sexy and exciting matchup." Levine noted while the Rangers and Kings would "surely draw eyeballs, the same may not be true ... on a national stage" if the Devils and Coyotes were to reach the Cup Final. Miller: "Anytime you can get the New York market, that helps" (VARIETY.com, 5/10). ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose said, "League marketers would consider it a home run if it was an L.A.-New York final." NBC Sports NHL Exec Producer Sam Flood said that the "halo effect is a resurgence of hockey in markets such as Chicago and Boston during their Stanley Cup championship runs the past two seasons, which could happen with the L.A. market." In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes a possible resurgance, as opposed to TV ratings, is how Flood "measures the success of the current media rights deals." Flood said, "Hockey went to the backburner for a time in Chicago and Boston, and now, nothing is hotter. That's what happens when you catch the fever. That's happening in L.A. even when there are two basketball teams in the playoffs. We realize they have a lot bigger fan base, and they can catch the bug and be passionate fans" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/11).
MUST-SEE TV: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Rangers coach John Tortorella is "must-see TV" with his postgame press conferences, and viewers "watch to see how much of a jerk he will be." He is a "belligerent, deadpan, defensive witness with little use for the peons cross-examining him," and his "playoff podium performances border on classic." Raissman: "While we find Tortorella’s act amusing, even entertaining, it could be a complete turn-off to fans, especially casual ones the NHL desperately tries attracting to its playoff telecasts." MSG Network analysts also "have taken issue with the coach." Tortorella after the Rangers' Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals Game Four loss to the Capitals "pulled an in-and-out" press conference that was "shorter than a trip through a revolving door." MSG analyst Mike Keenan, who coached the Cup-winning '94 Rangers, said, "Probably John should spend a little bit more time with the media after the game. It’s part of your responsibility (as a coach). I understand his frustration, but that’s no excuse" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/11).
WHAT'S UP, DOC? SI's Michael Farber writes NBC NHL play-by-play annnouncer Mike "Doc" Emrick "surely is among the most remarkable working in any sport." Emrick "uses his voice like an instrument, modulating it to impute significance to a moment in the manner of classic old-school announcers." He "marbles his calls with information and pertinent digression and wry humor, which makes him as fresh as some of the other leading practitioners of hockey's modern style" (SI, 5/14 issue).