Wednesday, June 15, 2022

NHL Stanley Cup Final. NBA Finals. Which is Correct?

There is an interesting grammatical question here about which term "Final" or "Finals" is the correct label for the last round of the playoffs. This question was raised today on the Rich Eisen Show on the Peacock Network.

The NBA calls their final championship series the NBA Finals. The NHL calls their championship round the Stanley Cup Final.

Reporter Rhiannon Walker of the Chicago Tribune asked this question back in 2015. Her article "NHL Stanley Cup Final. NBA Finals. Which is Correct?" tries to answer the question. She gathered a few explanations:

Frank Brown, the NHL's group vice president of content integration, and a former sports journalist for the NY Daily News and Associated Press said via email:
The Stanley Cup Final is the ultimate series that will crown our champion, It is a singular event, comprised of a series of individual games. While up to seven games may be played, each game is an individual piece; together, the individual games comprise the Final just as multiple slices comprise a pie.

The individual games are part of the Final but each is not a Final of itself —- which is what each game would have to be for the plural ('finals') to be used in reference to a multiple number of those games.
It could also be said that it just sounds better to say "Stanley Cup Final" instead of "Stanley Cup Finals." The singular word cup works better with the singular final.

The NBA did not have an official who could come forward and explain why they decided to call it the NBA Finals back in 1986.

Academia did have an opinion. University of Chicago linguistics professor Chris Kennedy explained it this way:
If we focus on the multiplicity, we should go with plural; if we focus on the unity, we should go with singular... Both forms are grammatically correct. 'Final' is a noun that has both a singular and plural form, so of course it is quite OK to use it either way.
By the way, the NHL consistently uses their "singularity reasoning" by also calling the conference playoff series a "Final." This recent headline from their website shows that usage: "NHL announces Eastern Conference Final schedule."

On this topic Business Insider reports: "Most people get the name of hockey's championship wrong."
Interestingly, despite the NHL being one of the four major North American sports, most people still get the name of their championship series wrong. It is the Stanley Cup Final, not Finals. As most diehard fans will tell you, there is only one Stanley Cup Final, so it is singular.
Yes, the final is like a pie. It is made up of many pieces, but there is only one pie, one cup. And the NY Rangers yet again will not get a sip, taste, or bite of it this year.

ICINGS Update:
John Tortorella to coach Flyers

John Tortorella becomes latest veteran coach tasked with turning Flyers around

Brandon Dubinsky - Torts tweet

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