The NHL is an unsustainable business model. Attendance in most places sucks and player salaries are out of control. Owners lose money hand over fist.
Outside of a few cities (READ: Sun Belt), the NHL has better attendance than the NBA. The NHL's problems are not attendance, but TV. And I have little sympathy for owners who cry poverty after handing out huge contracts. "Help me from wasting money!"
The NHL's problem is that it is not a war among players and owners, but small market teams (the Sun Belt) versus large market teams. Since they can't figure out a proper way to distribute the money amongst themselves, they just take it out on the players. The problem is that the Coyotes are unsustainable and the Rangers are rich as hell.
I like having hockey in my town, but it might be time to give up on the South. Everybody below the Mason Dixon line can root for the Caps or the Blues (though I think Carolina might be sustainable).