There might have been some story for the sporting press if Gretzky and Mario teamed up once again to “save” the NHL, as they apparently had planned. Too bad it didn’t work.
What I can’t understand is why the players simply don’t form a co-op league. Any situation where you have a union with large capital available, why not take out the middle man? I’m sure it’s not as simple as I’m making it sound, but all they would need to ensure victory is the assignment of the right to play for the Stanley Cup by Lord Stanley’s trustees, and that may or may not be taken away from the NHL this year. (The Cup has to be awarded every year, according to the trust.)
Anyway, the players chickened out, or at least some of them did, and as a result, the owners will probably get a pretty low cap come next year, if there is going to be a league at all.
ESPN may back out of carrying NHL games. If not enough season ticket holders renew, some teams might have to fold. A domino effect could simply wipe the league out.
If it were up to me, the league would lose 4-8 teams and 2-4 or so would move to Canada. Move Phoenix back to Winnipeg. Move Nashville to Hamilton. Move Carolina to Windsor. Move one of the Florida teams to Quebec City after people forget about having won the Cup in Tampa.
Do that, and put a Cap in Canadian dollars, and you might have a league.