from Rory Boylen of The Hockey News,
A major struggle the NHL has faced in its history is transitioning from a niche sport to a big-league show that attracts fans from markets that can’t sustain an outdoor rink. But the biggest reason this has been such a mammoth struggle is, well, the NHL itself.
In the “non-traditional” hockey markets, the option to play while growing up isn’t as popular or as easy to come by as it is in Canadian or northern American destinations. Many of these folks have been introduced to hockey by the NHL’s charge into their backyard. We’ve heard commissioner Gary Bettman talk endlessly over the years about “growing the game” and attempting to push the league closer to the front of the mind of casual American sports fans.
The problem is, the idea of “growing the game” is always trumped by the owners’ goal of profit certainty. The NHL’s tactic of locking out its players time and again to reach this goal regresses any efforts to become relevant in big