Before the lockout I thought the NHL was doing great and getting more and more popular by the year, I wasn't exactly right but not wrong either. The NHL hit record revenue with $3.3 Billion in the 11-12 season. When the lockout finally ended I turned on ESPN, NESN, CSN, NBC expecting a panel of analysts talking hockey and big banner across the screen, but I was shocked when even after an hour had gone by I still hadn't heard anything about hockey.
I do believe the fans will return and the sport will continue to grow, but will the small market teams ever produce money? I think the NHL should consider dropping the NHL from 30 teams to 24 teams, dropping teams like Florida, Tampa, Phoenix, Anaheim, Columbus, and Dallas. These teams are bottom of the league in attendance and aren't very good anyway. Tampa has Stamkos but do fans really care? Phoenix had a great run last year but will fans care if they make the playoffs or not this year?
Making the NHL smaller could have shortened the lockout with one of the main concerns being the small market teams. Also an empty building just makes the NHL look awful and gives it a bad image. If the NHL wants to keep 30 teams and wants to be successful why not move these teams to Canada. Quebec, Hamilton, Saskatoon, and I've read another team in Toronto could work. All four of these markets would produce fans which would bring in the money, especially Toronto. Also if were giving markets a second chance, why not give Hartford another shot. A Seattle team would be good during the "honeymoon" stage but unless the team was really good I don't see hockey flourishing there.
This is just a theory but what do you guys think?