About a month ago, the NHL playoffs were exceeding any sort of popularity expectations they had. People weren’t only watching, they were talking about it. Liking the NHL became cool for a little while, and that’s all it was… for a little while.
Maybe it was the big market teams like the Rangers, Bruins and Capitals that kept viewers hanging around, but you could feel the air deflate from the playoffs the second that the Rangers were eliminated. Maybe it was the constant and rotating Ferris Wheel of games, giving a viewer a thriller to watch at almost any time of the night. It was a great couple of weeks, but here we are, watching a dominant Kings team barrel through the playoffs like we’ve never seen, and nobody could care less. I’m sorry for the loyal fans out there that have stuck with their league through last night’s 4-0 Ambien-like game that put me to sleep faster than watching Tiago Splitter.
Last year’s Stanley Cup felt like the climax of the playoffs, opposed to this year, where the opening round was the most thrilling of all.
In the end, it will be like every other hockey season. The playoff games are enormously entertaining, and no other sport’s postseason can compete with the intensity and unpredictability of the NHL, but after Americans got their hipster fix of liking a sport they weren’t accustomed too, they’ve moved on. All that’s left standing is the Kings’ faithful and those stubborn traditionalists that are so charmingly obsessed with the sport they’ve grew up with and fed off of for as long as they can remember. It’s the cruel cycle of the hockey playoffs. Every year, it feels more watchable, exhilarating and authentic than the paralleling NBA playoffs, which falls around two weeks after the start of the NHL postseason. Everybody finds him or herself making declarations that hockey has the best playoffs of any sport. Yet by the end of the Stanley Cup, us bandwagon hockey fans are exposed while the loyal crowd that truly loves the sport remains intrigued. America is a fickle sports nation, and it’s never more obvious than mid-June.