What!? Yep. Almost everybody who reads this is gonna think "My God, he's crazy." And I don't really blame you. How is a matchup between these two teams a good scenario for the NHL? Simple, because it forces the league's hand on something it should have done a long time ago.
Two months ago, I wrote an article explaining why Tampa Bay vs. Vancouver would be a good 2011 Stanley Cup Finals matchup for the NHL. Today, I stand by that opinion. The reason I say that Nashville vs. Tampa would be a good matchup is this: The NHL has worlds of talent in small markets that nobody knows about.
Steven Stamkos is arguably a top five player in the league and Shea Weber is, in my opinion, the league's best defender under the age of 30. The NHL likes to play favorites, as it's good for business to always promote the same teams.
For the most part, those teams are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
That's not a bad thing, but it's also not a good thing. When you rely on only those teams to deliver, what happens when they're not there? What happens when you have another Anaheim vs. Ottawa matchup?
The basic principle is this: The league does a great job promoting the big market teams and a horrible job promoting the small market teams.
Let's face it, if Boston hadn't won the Stanley Cup, they'd still have rabid NHL fans pouring cash into the franchise. Just because Vancouver lost doesn't mean they're going to lose fans. Those teams have dedicated fans that will stay no matter what.
For Nashville and Tampa Bay, a Stanley Cup could solidify fans and strengthen their fan base. Before anybody says, "Tampa Bay won once," just remember that was right before the lockout that almost killed the NHL entirely.