Blackhawks roll into Stanley Cup Final

Brent Seabrook (left) and Corey Perry. (
Brent Seabrook (left) and Corey Perry. (

Third time the charm; to face Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night

Ratings thru roof

For the third time in six years, the Chicago Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Final.

This time however, instead of playing teams with established fan bases (the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins), they get to play the Tampa Bay Lightning – a Sunbelt expansion team which began play in 1992 (and stunned the Blackhawks in their first-ever regular season game by the score of 7-3); spent three years (1993-96) playing in a domed baseball stadium, which was nicknamed “The Thunderdome”; nearly became bankrupt after a money-laundering scheme; and at one time, had an owner who was referred to as “Jed Clampett”, from The Beverly Hillbillies.

Yes, try to imagine The Beverly Hillbillies running your hockey team. The laugh track machine alone would break from overuse.

The Lightning in fact, has won a Stanley Cup – they beat the Calgary Flames in 2004 in game seven to win Lord’s Holy Grail – the last NHL game to air on ABC/ESPN.

The Blackhawks playoff train has stopped in Nashville, Minnesota (St. Paul), and Anaheim and generated impressive ratings along the way on both a local and national basis. Saturday night’s Western Conference Final game seven between the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks (another ’90’s expansion team)  earned a whopping 26.6 live-plus-same day household rating locally for WMAQ-TV which a peak rating of 33.2 – translating to a little over a million homes. In the Los Angeles market, the game earned a 3.9 live-plus household rating for KNBC. In both cases, the game won its time period.

Both KNBC and WMAQ are owned by NBC Universal.

Nationally, the Blackhawks-Ducks matchup drew a 3.2 live-plus same day overnight metered market rating. Final numbers released Tuesday show the game drew a record 4.6 million viewers – the most for any non-Stanley cup Final.

Tampa Bay’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final is certainly good news for Media General, who is based in Tampa and owns the NBC affiliate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market, the top-rated WFLA. The station is expected to reap a windfall from the series. And of course, WMAQ is expecting higher ratings as the Blackhawks aim to win another Cup.

NBC has the first two games and games five through seven of the Stanley Cup Finals; games three and four from the United Center, will air on NBC SN. The entire series is available to stream via and NBC Sports’ Live app, though TV Everywhere – which means you need a cable and satellite subscription to stream to your device.

All games start at 7 p.m. Chicago Time, with the exception of game two, which starts an hour earlier.

WGN-AM is carrying the entire series; you can also stream the audio from the games on their website or via Tune In.

And on one related note, the two markets involved in the Stanley Cup Final has something in common: yes, the one and only Court Jester himself, Randy Michaels. Tampa is where he had his greatest success (turning around the fortunes of WFLZ-FM, renaming it “The Power Pig” with a brilliant marketing campaign) – and Chicago, where he had his greatest failures (the disastrous rebranding of WYTZ-FM as “Hell 94.7” and running the Tribune Co. into the ground.)

I guess there’s no doubt in his mind what team the Court Jester would be rooting for.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. on 2015-06-02.