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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bettman Laughing, Stern Crying

Wild on Sports
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Bettman Laughing, Stern Crying
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

For the NHL and NBA its boom or bust this time of year as we whittle it down to the final handful of teams in each league. Its time to make the big bucks! Regardless of the city, by now all games are sold out so ticket revenue is never an issue, the bigger ticket is the TV ratings. The ratings are primarily driven by two things -- markets involved and story-lines.

For the Gary Bettman and the NHL they have it all covered thus far. They have the West Coast tuned in with the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings. They have the middle of the country with two of the most storied franchises in the league in Chicago and Detroit. The Northeast is a buzz thanks to Boston and the New York Rangers. Then of course we have the face of the NHL in Sid the Kid down in Pittsburgh who, oh by the way, had a hat-trick last night. They even are holding onto a portion of the Canadian market thanks to the Ottawa Senators. Life is good at NHL headquarters.

For David Stern and the NBA the Opposite is true. The West is down to Memphis (west?) and San Antonio - a nice team but a few years past their prime. In the East you have Indiana (assuming we don't see a late series collapse) and the love 'em or hate 'em Miami Heat. No LA, no New York (probably), no Boston, no Chicago. God forbid we see a Memphis-Indiana finals. As ecstatic as Bettman and the NHL are, Stern and co. have to be equally disappointed. Best case scenario, Lebron and the Heat do their thing and steamroll the Pacers and Tim Duncan turns back the clock five years to lead the Spurs to a showdown with the defending champs. In all likelihood the Heat are 8 to 10 games, at most away from their second consecutive title. Unless we get Lebron, Wade, Bosh and company up on stag again with there "not 1, not 2..." we likely are in for what everyone expects -- little intrigue.

This spring belongs to the NHL. There have been 19 overtime game thus far in the NHL playoffs including arguably the best comeback in NHL history in the final game of the Boston-Toronto series. You have as many story lines as you have pages to put them on.

Buckle up your seat belts folks! We are in for a wild ride in the NHL. NBA, sorry, there is always next year.

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