No Matter Who Wins, the Stanley Cup Will Call the Sun Belt Home
A team from the South or from the desert will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup
Following the Dallas Stars knocking off the Seattle Kraken on Monday night, the NHL’s final four teams are set and ready to attempt to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup. No matter which team ends up hoisting the most famous trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup’s new home will be in the Sun Belt, as all four remaining teams reside in warm-weather states south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The Stars (Dallas), Panthers (Sunrise, FL), Golden Knights (Las Vegas) and Hurricanes (Raleigh, NC) all hail from home cities that had a combined 1.3 inches of snow over the winter, so professional ice hockey’s top prize will spend the summer in a locale that has largely been absent of anything frozen for months. “Of the four cities, only Raleigh has snow plows or salt trucks, and the salters only fire up if brine trucks’ efforts (yes, they spray a brine liquid onto roads before ice or snow storms) don’t work,” The Vancouver Sun notes.
Though there are a growing number of hockey hotbeds in the South and desert, one has to wonder if the NHL is going to take a major hit in the ratings department without an Original Six franchise or a Canadian team of any kind in the mix for the Cup. Following the conclusion of the playoffs, it will have been 30 years since a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup.
Speaking of the playoffs, the third round of the NBA playoffs will tip off tonight when the Lakers head to Denver to take on the Nuggets before the Heat travel to Boston to play the Celtics tomorrow. Three years ago in the NBA’s Disney World bubble, the Lakers, Nuggets, Celtics and Heat were also the league’s final four teams. The Lakers knocked off the Nuggets, and the Heat beat the Celts before ultimately falling to LA. If that happens again, it would be a major upset — but it’s certainly possible.
As for the NHL odds, the Hurricanes are the favorites at +200 followed by Golden Knights (+225), Stars (+325) and Panthers (+375), according to BetMGM. We like Vegas, as the Knights are now just the third team in NHL playoffs history to make the conference final four times in their first six seasons. The other two are the New York Rangers (1926-27 to 1932-33) and St. Louis Blues (1967-68 to 1971-72).
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