With this damn lockout continuing to drag on it is clear that neither side is truly interested in saving the season. The blame lies equally with both sides in this moronic dispute. The NHL with its greedy attempts to strip players of nearly everything they gained in the last CBA and the NHLPA with their complete unwillingness to negotiate in any significant way. (Don’t buy the rhetoric; Fehr is yet to move towards the owners side in any meaningful way)
It doesn’t really matter what side we choose to support, the fans opinions come last so the decision is moot. So don’t be taken in when both Bettman and Fehr talk about the fans, they are just pandering to what they consider to be ignorant, annoying fleas.
Still, there is a problem with the game and it has to be addressed. Right now in the NHL there is a large amount of struggling teams. The embarrassment in Phoenix, ineptitude in Columbus, disinterest in Dallas as well as both Florida and California are all part of the problem (among others of course). The League seems to think simply taking money away from the players will make up for these financial short fall. They refuse to recognize that many of these are failed markets that will never truly embrace their franchises.
The League is losing money (or not making enough) because of these dead markets. They have been dead for years yet there is an insistence to keep force feeding the sport where interest is lowest. There is no reason to keep these franchises in place; there is no shame in moving a franchise.
If you relocate a team, even if it is unsuccessful in the long run, you will have short term gains that follow when a new franchise is formed. You get big money from fans willing to dish out for brand new jerseys, hats, sweaters and trinkets. There will be scores of businesses lining up to attach themselves to newest attraction in town. But even more, there is potential that hockey will flourish in the new markets, where it has slowly bled to death over a decade in current locals.
Kansas City has an NHL rink sitting empty and the market is begging for a team, yet they get ignored. Quebec City is just a few years away from renaming themselves Montreal just to steal a franchise. These are two markets absolutely itching to rejoin the NHL. In the Salary Cap era they are a thousand times more appealing than the majority those franchises that scrape more snow off their ice surfaces than their roads.
The NHL is locked out to shore up the business side of the game. Business 101 is cutting you losses and looking for new opportunities. Regardless what they are fighting about right now the League is shut down because of poor management, dead markets and refusal to exploit new ones. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the Leagues head office, or in other words: Gary Bettman.
The outcome doesn’t matter, if the dead weight continues to be dragged along the financial state of the game will never improve.