The Stanley Cup Final. The annual postseason hockey series where NBC regrets having to pre-empt regularly-scheduled programming to air something that attracts less eyeballs. I love hockey, I’m Canadian. But I’m also realistic in that it’s a sport that will never catch on in certain areas of the United States. The league can talk all it wants about being Arizona, no one is watching the sport there.
2018 Stanley Cup Final
But this year is different. There’s theatre and showmanship. There’s star power. And no, I’m not talking about the players on the ice. Vegas has changed the narrative about hockey. A first-year expansion team in a seemingly already hockey-mad city has captivated the sports world, including celebrities!
There are a myriad of A-list entertainers who call Las Vegas home. And right now you’re seeing all of them jump on the bandwagon. It’s got to be making NHL Commish Gary Bettman feel all warm and fuzzy in his jammies at night. Think about it, the NHL has been trotting out video after video of Snoop Dogg explaining hockey, when nothing says this sport is exciting better than Celine Dion herself in a Golden Knights Jersey!
In addition to being a large media market, Las Vegas has the glitz and glamour that has always been missing from the sport. Sure, the L.A. Kings have won the cup a couple of times, but in years in which they’re not in it, the city’s stars could care less about the sport. Somehow, it feels different with these celebs in Vegas. Don’t get the feeling that this will become quite the tourist attraction and place to be seen for each and every home game moving forward? I’m even talking about for regular season games against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Whether it’s a celeb singing the National Anthem prior to the game, a mega-star being shown on TV enjoying the matchup from a luxury box or Celine Dion referencing the team on stage at Caesars’s Palace – if the ratings for this particular Stanley Cup Final aren’t a LOT better than usual, then they’ll NEVER be something to write home about the the NHL.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He’s also a contributor to ESPN 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow him @MatthewWords.