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Did a Weak East Affect NHL Popularity?

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Old
06-13-2014, 12:12 PM
  #1
Randomtask68
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Did a Weak East Affect NHL Popularity?

I'm the poster who started the thread about the hypothetical 2004-05 season and while looking at player statistics from the years leading up to the lockout, it got me thinking about that time period in a different manner. This may just be regurgitating old threads/posts but I never really though about how little success the major American markets in the Eastern Conference in the playoffs between the 94 and 2004 lockouts. The West won 6 cups in that span and the East 4, but major markets with stars like Detroit and Colorado were consistently competing while teams like Boston and the NY Rangers were never really a factor. Did the lack of a Boston or NYR reaching the Cup finals hurt the growth/popularity of the NHL at all or was it better that markets like Florida, Carolina and Tampa Bay represented the East instead? Also, did the four straight sweeps have any negative impact on the league?

Stanley Cup Finalists, winners are bolded

1995
Detroit vs. New Jersey
0-4

1996
Colorado vs. Florida
4-0

1997
Detroit vs. Philadelphia
4-0

1998
Detroit vs. Washington
4-0

1999
Dallas vs. Buffalo
4-2

2000
Dallas vs. New Jersey
2-4

2001
Colorado vs. New Jersey
4-3

2002
Detroit vs. Carolina
4-1

2003
Anaheim vs. New Jersey
3-4

2004
Calgary vs. Tamp Bay
3-4

In addition, the first two post lockout Cup finals were kind of duds in regards to major markets and ratings.

2006
Edmonton vs. Carolina
3-4

2007
Anaheim vs. Ottawa
4-1

But starting with the 2008 finals, the league has benefited from major American markets making the finals basically every year and 6-7 game series, save for LA and NJ in 2012. I'm not saying that the non traditional markets do not deserve their success or hurt the league, but could the popularity and financial aspects of the league be even greater had there been a mix of more competition in the Finals and more major American markets involved? Is the NHL fine having southern teams making the Finals even if they attract low ratings in hopes that a Cup run will help make the sport popular in that city down the line?

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Old
06-13-2014, 12:23 PM
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Randomtask68
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Also, with Gretzky retired and Lemieux unable to play a full season after coming out of retirement, did that severely impact the league since they kind of lost 2 generational players and no one could be pointed to as the unquestionable best player in the league? Is this also where Eric Lindros comes into play and his inability to stay healthy, preventing him from truly being "The Next One", especially in a major market like Philadelphia?

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06-13-2014, 06:47 PM
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Darth Yoda
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I dont think there is any doubt about the NHL being a dud in the US during the decade before the first lockout, post- NYR in 1994. Heck, the game in itself was slow and boring with all the grabbing. I remember Gretzky's last game and it was a relative travesty with Gretzky passing the torch to Jagr.

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