There are two types of hockey fans, those that are irked at the concept of a Southern team winning a cup (ie. Carolina, Tampa, Dallas, to name a few) and those that aren't.
As a hockey fan, I'm tired of hearing what team "deserves" to win the cup based on the amount of fans a team has, or how devoted these said fans may be. This is professional sports. The NHL, as is many sports, is based on the idea of "may the best team win." The concept of a popularity contest determining the winner might be as frightening to some of you as the Rory Fitzpatrick campaign was to me. Latitude does not determine win-deservedness. Nor does average annual temperature.
To me, a Southern or non-traditional hockey market winning the cup can only be a good thing for the league. I trust those in more traditional markets will not be any less of a hockey fan if a Southern team wins the cup. If a little part of the hockey fan in you dies because these teams win, you should probably reasses yourself as a hockey fan.
The pro-north people might cite reasons explaining why it would be good for the league should a northern team win the cup. This, however, seems ridiculously illogical to me. Hockey is a religion in canada and an immensely popular sport in the north. To me, hockey's popularity in the north has reached its maximum potential. The only other step Hockey can take to advance is for it to replace Lacrosse as the national sport. The way I see it, Hockey needs to expand down nowadays. What markets would you tap for the most potential fans? The south where not many people know about the sport! It only makes sense. It seems as if this pro-north notion is fueled by the subconscious feeling that hockey is a sport for the north and not anyone else. Hockey in Carolina? Blasphemy!
Never has the cup come to the west coast since '26 when the Cougars did it. To bring it to the West for the first time in 81 years would be huge for hockey. Wayne Gretzky commented on the possibility of the cup coming west, saying, "It would be phenomenal. Even over in Phoenix we're riding the Duck wave". No positive effect on the league still? I am a resident of Southern California and I'll tell you that I have personally experienced the increase in fandom. Have you guys heard of HockeyGiant? This is a Hockey superstore selling all kinds of equipment, etc. They have 2 stores in Minnesota. Guess where their third store is. Anaheim. No fanbase? No hockey potential? You bet there is.
Nobody should assume how other fans embrace their teams. Here in Anaheim, you can't argue with 32 consecutive sellouts. I'll tell you that this has been the largest fanbase Anaheim has had, and it's largely fueled by the success of this team. Those that tell us that we shouldn't win a cup might as well be the people that are opposed to the sport making progress. I know down here in the US hockey isn't the number 1 sport and that a lot of you are tired of hockey taking a backseat to other sports (ie. public reaction to NBC not broadcasting OT). Well I'll have you know that we fans in the South are tired of taking a backseat to those in the north. Yeah, that's how we feel - twofold.
Fanbases have grown greatly in Dallas, Carolina and Tampa because of the cup. The fanbase in Nashville has grown greatly because of their success. Not a fan of this fact? You aren't a hockey fan either. This is exactly why I am a fan of parity and revenue sharing. Mind you, the Ducks make enough revenue to sustain the team on its own so I am not a fan of this system simply because it benefits my team. What does this system bring? It gives other teams a chance to increase their respective markets, letting the sport grow as a whole. It may suck to have the team funds sapped to Atlanta or something, but they've got growth potential. All non-traditional hockey markets do. The state of California has a larger population than the entire Canada and I can tell you that the sport is growing rather quickly here. There's immense untapped hockey potential here. Gretzky sums it up rather well here: http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam...07/05/26/4210432-sun.html
To end, I'd like to direct your attention to the poll on the page above. I'll duplicate it here just in case it changes.
On a level of 1 to 10, your interest in this year's Stanley Cup final would be...
10, the Sens rock!
6-9, it's the finals baby!
5, it's hockey
1-4, it beats watching poker
0, hockey in June sucks!
In the spirit of the arguments I made above, does ANYONE see a problem with this? I do. This is exactly the mistreatment I am talking about.