Gary Bettman and Mark Lazarus shouldn’t even try to remain impartial. The NHL Commissioner and NBC Sports chairman should be allowed to go to Madison Square Garden tonight in full New York Rangers gear. Perhaps even get a few Rangers tattoos on the way to the arena.
Both the NHL and NBC need the Rangers to prevail in Game 7 over Ottawa. Talk about a must-win situation.
Here’s why: Game 6 attracted 315,000 viewers in New York on MSG. The ratings figure to be even higher for Thursday’s game.
If the Rangers advance, all of those New York ratings move over to NBC and the NBC Sports Network. Both outlets have exclusive coverage for the remainder of the Stanley Cup.
NBC Sports Network is averaging 699,000 viewers for the first 13 days of its playoff coverage, up 18 percent. Think about how much a New York audience could inflate that number for round 2 and beyond.
If Ottawa wins. Well, not so much. I bet a lot of people think Ottawa is a city in Iowa.
I know the New Jersey Devils also have a game 7 in Florida Thursday, but they aren’t the Rangers in New York or nationally.
NBC and NBC Sports Network already took a huge hit with Chicago losing to Phoenix in the first round. Game 6 pulled in 363,000 households on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The network would have loved an even larger slice of that for round 2.
As for Phoenix. Again, not so much.
Also, Detroit, another hockey hotbed, is out. The Red Wings lost to Nashville, not a hockey hotbed.
And also, also, Boston, the defending Stanley Cup champions with its avid following, went to sleep Wednesday night. However, the defeat wasn’t a complete washout since Washington will be a solid national draw with Alex Ovechkin. Stars move the meter.
For all the ratings momentum that has been built in the first round, it’ll evaporate quickly if the “right teams” don’t make it to the finish line. The NHL’s worst nightmare has to be a Stanley Cup between Ottawa and Phoenix. Or how about Florida-Nashville?
Sorry if I scared you, Mr. Bettman. Go Rangers, eh?