It's Just Different
ANAHEIM-It was pointed out during a media welcome party last night held by the NHL that, at least from a media point of view, the Stanley Cup final is starting to look a lot like the Grey Cup.
Mostly Canadian media, and many of the same faces.
This is a final dominated by Canadian coverage. In fact, twice over the last two weeks the Anaheim Ducks have cited the presence and influence of the Canadian media as factors in different stories.
First, Chris Pronger said newspaper and electronic types from the Great White North got him suspended. Then, GM Brian Burke suggested the Canadian media has artificially made Ottawa the favorite to win the Cup.
Doesn't this seem a little weird to anybody? I mean, this is distant California, not Alberta or even a border state. It's sort of the reverse juice to that which we've all grown up with in Canada, namely the overwhelming presence of U.S. media and culture. In this Stanley Cup final, however, NBC won't even be showing up until Game 3.
But I suppose its a reflection both of Canada's deep interest in the sport and the lack of same in the United States. That has more than a few Canadian reporters taking great delight in asking locals about hockey and then reporting their lack of interest of knowledge, which is fair.
But the truth is here in the greater Los Angeles area, not much makes an overwhelming impact. Interest in everything is diffused because of the geography, the density of population and the mixed cultures. As colleage Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated pointed out, even the Summer Olympics failed to make the kind of impact on this community as some believe the Stanley Cup final should make in every city.
So there is no Red Mile here, but there wouldn't be for anything, including the Super Bowl or World Series. It's just too big and too spread out. I tried to figure out on the way down here why I had no memory of the '03 final between the Ducks and Devils, and other than the obvious age and lifestyle reasons, it's also that the media hotel and arena are located in the middle of suburbia. It's like it would be if the Stanley Cup final was held in Woodbridge, although there would be a lot more obvious interest in Woodbridge.
The most positive impact of the Canadian media influence on the Stanley Cup final, meanwhile, lies in the name itself.
For the better part of a decade, the Bettman adminstration tried to force the concluding playoff series to be called the "finals," which never made much sense since there was only one series.
But the NBA had adopted that name, and so the big thinkers in the NHL head office figure that had to be right.
As far as the Stanley Cup, however, it had always been the final, and now, magically, the league has reverted to the correct name.
Maybe we can help these people after all.