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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Anybody watching the Stanley Cup finals?

I didn't think so.

Versus (the cable network broadcasting the finals) might as well televise tumbleweeds blowing across the ice.

Know how many people watched Game 1 between Anaheim and Ottawa? 523,000 households. That's a 0.72 cable rating. Unbelievably, it's a drop of 18 percent from last year's Game 1.

How in the world did hockey get to this place? Place the fault squarely on the shoulders of commissioner Gary Bettman. Instead of opting for maturing the sport and looking to the future, he handed out expansion rights for the quick, short-term financial gains.

Now, there's talk of Nashville moving, possibly to Winnipeg, though Bettman doesn't give any specifics. I wouldn't be surprised if Florida or Atlanta are next.

The owners won't move Bettman out because he's made them very rich men at the sake of the sport's future. Meanwhile teams in the largest hockey markets, Toronto, Chicago, Boston and the New York Rangers have won FOUR Stanley Cups since the 1966-67 season. Toronto's last cup was in 1967, Boston added a pair in 1970 and 1972 and the Rangers won in 1994. Chicago hasn't won since 1961.

No wonder the 1930s-1950s are referred to as the sports' Golden Age.


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