Bad publicity of hockey starts with the media. In North America, minds are controlled by the media. The little attention hockey gets in USA should be positive publicity and what it has to offer "as it is". The game is always in the news about how it can be improved or what needs to be changed as far as rules go. The problem with NHL isn't the game itself, but how it's being marketed.
Bettman was NOT hired for his hockey knowledge. He was hired SPECIFICALLY to market the NHL and make it grow. He's had his time to do that, and it showed it was an incorrect method of hiring. Bettman's idea of marketing was to move northern teams south and expand. Forcing teams into cities with little knowledge of the sport and generally no interest in hockey. Bettman could have at least made the NHL more accessible and interesting in other methods, television as one, rather then risking NHL franchises, who spent millions and committed the expansion, and then not succeed. If the NHL hired someone who knew hockey, that person would have put light on this sport and gave it a good image; then expanded when there was a demand. The strong points of this game would be advertised rather then Bettman always advertising what this game "could" be.
The new idea coming from Bettman is more goals. As far as goals go, the All Star game failed...and it's because there is too many goals and little physical play or battles. Goals aren't so special when they come by so easily. There are far more then a dozen goals in the All Star game, and I don't see fans jumping for joy. Soccer is a sport that you may see a 1 - 0 game, more often then not, and millions of fans go nuts over this sport. Fans love the intensity which developes preceding a goal. Goals aren't an issue, and I wish we'd quit hearing things like this, it only depresses fans. Changing a game isn't going to bring viewers, the game isn't at fault...it's how the game is being shown.
It starts with the media, and Bettman is just a bumbling idiot who has changed this game so much that it's hard for the casual fan to keep track of what the hell is going on. Hi-light the good of this game, show what it has to offer, market the players and quit preaching what this game "could" be like if we tweak it here and there. It's an easy way to grab attention, but it's also the wrong kind of attention.
The core of the game will never be changed, and the little gimmics will never outshine the main subjects. There are 2 nets, a goalie in each, with 2 teams trying to score on each other. Sounds like many sports that are succesful; but some "hi-lights" are that these players are wearing steal blades on ice shooting a frozen rubber disc up to 100 mph, bloody fights, bone crushing checks, beautiful dekes, tic tac toe passes. That's what I wanna hear about! It's worshipped just north of the US border and many parts of Europe, mainly because it gets great publicity. The game doesn't need to change for people in Canada and therefore the sport should be marketed the same way south as it is in Canada. American media seem to make the sport a stereotypical sport for toothless red neck Canadians. It's not a sport to be ashamed of liking, nor are the stereotypes true.
When USA went into battle against Vietnam to try and change them from communism, there was no way they would be forced to change...but when Americans left, Vietnam changed on their own. The game does not need Bettman coming in forcing changes just to make it appealing to what he thinks Americans find enjoyable. Leave NHL alone Bettman, and leave it to people who have played the game. Coaches and players will make the adjustments, not a lame marketing scheme. Preach the good of the game, advertise the hilights, make it available on a network with a great cast and we will see the change you are wanting and Americans will be drawn to it.