So there are multiple teams "failing" across the NHL. The Islanders, Predators, Blue Jackets, Thrashers and both Florida franchises are in rough times financially. Phoenix, despite playing well has hemorrhaged cash almost since the day the franchise moved from Winnipeg. Yet in the last Governors' Board of Governors meeting, the owners declined to discuss any move to ensure survival of the league, other than a hiring freeze for NHL employees.
The NHL continues to let teams play in small markets where the fans don't support the teams. It's doubtful that the NHL has a vast warchest of cash to continue to keep franchises like Phoenix afloat indefinitely. So the solution must be to either move teams to other markets, or kill them altogether. Whichever solution is adopted, something must happen and happen soon . The economy is not improving anytime soon, such that fans will turn out in massive droves for what even hardcore NHL fans admit is a niche sport.
While it may be distasteful to some, there are cities willing to accept NHL franchises now. Kansas City, Indianapolis, San Antonio, and Hamilton can all support a team financially, and at least as well as Columbus or Phoenix ever pretended to. What's more, there are potential bidders for teams in those cities, willing to assume risk. Yet the NHL continues to complicate or block the sale of teams, pointing at turnarounds in Pittsburgh and Washington, and hoping that the growth of the League coming out of the 2005 lockout will eventually hit all markets and benefit all teams.
The alternative is unthinkable, and I'm shocked Gary Bettman & co. have done nothing to prevent it. Contraction of the NHL and loss of a single franchise means loss of jobs- players, officials, and support staff. With multiple NHL franchises flagging, and badly so, it's a shock that nothing has been done to prevent teams from folding under financial pressure.