One for the conspiracy nuts

Speaking of the Stanley Cup Finals, specifically the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, ponder this:
( Please note that I do not believe my theory, though certain parts are true. )
The National Hockey League has an exclusive television contract with EPSN/ABC. A television contract that, to no one’s but Gary Bettman’s and the NHL’s surprise, is not gaining hockey the expanded audience it seeks in the United States. Viewership has dwindled from the days when Fox carried games for the league (with far more than I’ve ever seen on ABC).
bq. So, what has happened is, Fox has turned to Nascar, ABC is turning to the NBA and ESPN is turning its nose up, cutting 30 percent of its coverage while burying what’s left on ESPN2.
So, the NHL wishes to increase television coverage for the Stanley Cup playoffs, especially the Finals, and league games in general. ESPN/ABC would, of course, like higher ratings so they can charge advertisers more.
ESPN/ABC are owned by Disney. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are owned by Disney. If you’re looking for a conspiracy, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out.
The Ducks have talent, that’s for sure. Paul Kariya has always been one of the NHL’s top players; he’s just never had the rest of the team to play with. Giguere has shown that he is one of those top-flight French-Canadian goalies of the Roy-Brodeur caliber. (Can we please stop with the “Gettin’ Giggy with it” lines?) But overall, this is not a championship team. Yes, I know there is always a time for Cinderella teams, but the Ducks are not a Cinderella team. Not without help. Look to this season’s Minnesota Wild if you want to see a true Cinderella team.
The Ducks take out the defending Cup champions, the Detroit Red Wings, in a four-game sweep? Does anyone out there honestly believe the Ducks are that talented? Granted, Detroit didn’t seem to play as hungry as the Ducks, but still, a four-game sweep? You have better odds of winning the lottery. Of getting struck by lightning.
Then the Stars. At least Dallas handed Anaheim its first losses in this year’s playoffs. But again, the Ducks had help to get through that six-game series. I was at Game 2. It had to have been the worst-officiated hockey game I have ever witnessed, in-person or on television. It was atrocious, from both the refs to even the two linesmen. You know there’s a problem when the game’s referees are announced, and there is a collective “Oh no” from those in attendance. I kid you not.
The Stars do not blow leads late in the game. Again, the Stars did not look like the Stars of the regular season–the Stars that thoroughly dominated Anaheim in all but one game they played in the regular season–through all six games, and this certainly contributed to the Ducks “success.”
Now you can make a case for the Western Conference Finals, and the four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild. The Wild came off of two seven-game, come-from-behind series to make it to the conference finals. The Ducks, by comparison, coasted in. The questionable calls, however, continued.
(Don’t think the same thing wasn’t happening in the east, either. I’m a little shocked that the Devils were able to fight their way through some equally atrocious officiating, especially during the Eastern Conference Finals against Ottawa.)
So the Ducks are in the Finals, playing the New Jersey Devils. You know, the Devils, who have played in the Stanley Cup Finals in three of the last four years, including this one. The Devils, who have won the Cup twice. The Devils, with oodles and oodles of talent, and playoff experience to boot. Not surprising, the Devils crush the Ducks in the first two games of the Finals, not allowing a single goal from Anaheim.
Could it be? New Jersey will sweep the Ducks in four? Capturing the Cup in Anaheim?
Someone at the NHL/ESPN/ABC hits the panic button. Lo and behold, the series is now knotted at two games each. Providence certainly does shine on those incredibly lucky Ducks. Incredibly lucky Ducks. The series will now go to at least six games, and the price of advertising goes up.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are for sale? Gosh, an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals is certainly worth a price mark-up. A Cup championship team would command a premium. The next two, possibly three, games will be interesting to watch.
Of course, it’s all just a theory…