Tonight the Stanley Cup Finals made its triumphant 2007 network television debut, and the sport didn't disappoint.
The Ducks and Senators put on a high-energy, high-scoring game 3 that proved capable of capturing the attention of any half-hearted sports fan who may be channel-surfing on by (which is how I ended up watching the second and third periods). I thought I'd be focused on the Pistons-Cavs Game 6 tonight; I like watching basketball more than hockey. Instead, I watched the NBA Eastern Conference Finals during commercials and intermissions, going back to the Cup Finals as my primary channel.
It was great.
I really enjoyed watching the hockey game - a privilege I was denied for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals because it was only televised on the Versus (whatthefuck?) network. Thanks to NBC, the county was able to at least have the opportunity to watch hockey tonight. I don't know how many people tuned it, but if the NHL plays more games like that one, the league will have no problem gaining fans.
Ottawa came to life for the first time in this series to win, 5-3. The crowd in Ottawa represented a hockey-loving nation yearning for a championship, but also represented the passion this sport can generate. As a casual hockey fan, I can appreciate the energy and excitement tonight's game stirred up.
The NHL better hope that remaining games of these Stanley Cup Finals are just as competitve. They need the ratings. They need to gain back the fans. More importantly, they need a reason to keep their games on networks that people have heard of.