Author Topic: 2004/2005 NHL Offseason  (Read 23128 times)

Offline Morgbug

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #75 on: March 12, 2004, 03:11 PM »

Football fans even love their teams when they lose.  Hockey, sadly, doesn't have that kind of support South OR North of the border.  The fact it's an expensive sport just to watch probably doesn't help either, but that's beside the point.

I'd liken hockey more to the US's national passtime of baseball...  The country loves it overall, but a lot don't avidly support it.

Even when the Browns were leaving Cleveland, I remember seeing their stadiums at least near capacity, if not sold out.  Why they left, I do not know.  And the new Browns pack in the seats again.


Crappy Hockey teams in Canada often go about as well as Crappy teams in the U.S.  They don't sell out the arenas like they need to, to compete with the rest of the league.  Baseball is the same way here.



I'm going to argue with you, mostly because I like to argue.  But also because in some respects I disagree.  

Living in Winnipeg I don't think your statements apply.  Winnipeg is a fairly unique situation.  Only about 700.000 people to draw from.  We had a team you may recall, the Winnipeg Jets.  I'm not sure how much of their history you recall, beyond their moving to Phoenix to become the Coyotes (ptui).  

During their NHL stead here they averaged about 12,000 fans a game, year in, year out.  After it was announced they were leaving the attendance jumped.  All the way to an average of around 13,500.  

A pittance you say?  True, notably because the capacity of the arena was around 15,300.  The problem is you and most people have never been in that arena.  It was and is horrible.  The additional nearly 2000 seats were horrible, with awful sight lines, uncomfortable seating and at times were downright dangerous.  Basically, it was easier to watch the game in a bar or at home and not just because of cost.  

During that time the Jets had highs and lows.  One of those lows was a winless streak that still might still be on the NHL record books.  33 games straight without a win.  Attendance during that streak (I believe they might have won all of 12 games that year) was 11,500.  Nothing changed.  A subsequent year we had a record that had the Jets finish third in the league, behind only the Oilers and Flames (all three of whom were in the same division, thereby eliminating one of the leagues top three teams in the first round).  Attendance that year:  11,500.  

The point is yes, football has fanaticism, no doubt.  But don't doubt the same occurs here in Canada.  You can't get tickets in Toronto.  Period.  You never used to be able to get tickets in Montreal until they left the Forum.  Edmonton and Calgary are both in trouble to some degree, for largely the same reasons the Jets left Winnipeg, but the attendance kicks the snot out of anything in the southeastern US.  Vancouver, IMO is a fickle city and doesn't support anything but winners, but again, just my opinion.  


Poor attendance in Canada is about 10,000 butts in the seats, not 10,000 tickets raffled off, given away or sold at discount coupled with 4000 fans attending the game.  Nothing galls me more than watching a regular season or playoff game from Carolina, Anaheim, Los Angeles or one of the other non-supportive cities.  The only reason they have teams is a broad base of population to pick from and an owner with unbearably deep pockets that can handle financial losses as a tax writeoff applied to other profits.   Bettman is an ass.  He doesn't want a team here in Winnipeg and for that I hate him.  He doesn't want it here because we "don't have sufficient corporate support, aren't a team Americans want to watch and it isn't a city that fans can identify with".  Well pardon me, but what has that got to do with real fans????  So it's better to have a team in Carolina (poor Hartford) or Tampa Bay where no one shows up, win or lose than a place where fans show up win or lose?  Twisted logic at it's finest.  Bettman cares not for the game, he thinks he's the second coming of David Stern.  The great difference is that Stern understands what and where his audience is.  

I think Canadians support it, win or lose.  Another problem is and remains a disparity in the dollar.  That is why smaller market teams here are having difficulty, paying salaries in US dollars.  Granted, it is only a 25% disadvantage now, but when margins are tight :-\  As far as weather goes, you don't have a clue for the most part what we'll drive through to get to a game.  During the better part of the season in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec City and Montreal it is so cold that if your car isn't plugged in with an engine block heater, your car may not well start after the game.  It's that cold.  No, the fans don't sit outside in inclement weather, they just risk life and limb before and after the game.  The Heritage classic could have been held anywhere in Canada and people would show up in the same numbers.  Hockey is played indoors because the ice melts otherwise in the US or it's so damn cold in Canada that it would become a life risking exercise.  

The essence is I beg to differ.
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #76 on: March 12, 2004, 03:49 PM »
I'm not doubting Canadian Fanatacism of Hockey...  U.S. fans can, and often are just as fanatical...  Something Canadians don't seem to see.  Pittsburgh, even though we're one of the worst teams in history right now, is still drawing SOMEWHAT of a crowd.  It's impressive for here...

But Football fans deal with as many problems as Hockey Fans in Canada often deal with...  Not all stadiums are nice, nor have been nice.

I'm not even a HUGE football fan, just a passing one, but when you look at the attendances of even the worst teams in the NFL...  Bad stadiums, bad towns, bad weather...  You'll see that the NFL is just so damn big here that it's on-par with the absurd fanatacism of European Soccer...  

I don't doubt Canadian's hockey fanatacism...  They love it, and I've spent enough time up North to know they love it both when I was playing and just going up there on my own, but the fact that the Jets weren't selling out (no matter what excuses like a bad arena or weather) tells me something.

The Steelers had a dismal season, but sold out every game...  Rain or shine, Snow and cold, it didn't matter...  It's just that HUGE here.  

Sadly, hockey doesn't get that kind of treatment in the U.S. save for the Northeastern states...  Pittsburgh is a good  hockey town, but support is waning in recent years.

I don't doubt hockey fanatacism up in Canada...  I just think the NFL dwarfs it in every respect.  I love hockey, and simply enjoy Football, but I have to admit that the support cities give to football teams in the NFL (And football in general...  Friday night HS Ball is damn near as big as the NFL, as Canuck HS Juniors and things are as well I'm sure) is downright absurd...  They love football.

Only in the NFL could a city lose a team, and  have one back within what, a year?  I think that's how quick Cleveland got their team back...  

I agree about Bettman with you as well.  he doesn't care, and he doesn't realize there is a market for Hockey up north in the cities it originated in.  He sees dollar signs though, and unless you're selling out arenas you won't compete.  The Jets didn't sell out, no matter how fanatical people were, and that's gonna equate to the team leaving every time.  The Pens are on the verge of this exact same thing actually.

We have the oldest building in the NHL, and quite likely the worst...  Fans don't want to go, the team is losing games and $, Lemieux wants a new stadium...  I want him to get a new stadium, but if they don't start selling out instead of just bringing in 13,000 a game, they will go the way of the Jets and move...  I wouldn't doubt Lemieux would try moving them to Canada actually.  He wants them here, and I want him here, but we're in the SAME boat as you are in Winnipeg where we need a new stadium...  Nobody wants to fund it.  So we're in limbo as to whether we'll have a team or not in the next couple years.

By no means do I doubt the way Canadians love their hockey though, so I think you misunderstood me.  I just see that the NFL outperforms it.  Perhaps it is their salary cap...  Perhaps it is their marketing...  Perhaps they're simply run by a more competent group of people than Bettman and the NHL is, but damn near every NFL team sells out no matter how craptacular they are it seems.  

And it's like Baseball here...

We get TONS of baseball coverage here, just like you get tons of Hockey coverage, and the people are always geared up for the games, but that sport is failing here now as well...  New stadiums and arenas seem about the only thing to keep teams planted.  The pirates are improving too, and attendance was up last year I think, so maybe there's something to that.  Maybe all it would take is new arenas for Winnipeg and Pittsburgh.
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #77 on: March 12, 2004, 03:55 PM »
Football regular season:  16 games.

Hockey regular season:  82 games.  

'Nuff said ;)
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Offline Scott

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #78 on: March 12, 2004, 04:04 PM »
That has a huge amount to do with it...Season Tickets for the NFL can be had for $2000 a seat (10 games, $200 tickets)

NBA/NHL packages run $4000 a seat (41 games, $100 tickets) its a big difference for sure...I agree that Americans are much more fanatical about the NFL than any other sport, the Sports Radio guys here in town say the same thing, passion is there 365 days a year and they get 3x the amount of phone calls on the Vikings than they do the rest of the sports.

I have no basis for comparison to Canadian Hockey, never been North of the Border, I can only imagine its comparible passion wise not 10x the interest

Offline Jesse James

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #79 on: March 12, 2004, 04:08 PM »
Yeah, but fanatacism should know no bounds right?  And Football's a hell of a lot more expensive here for its short season than Hockey is...  Shorter season, but equally high costs then when you look at season tickets and things.

People SHOULD be coming out to support their team if they are truly fanatical...  They don't always though.  The Leafs wouldn't be selling as well if they weren't so great.  It wasn't that long ago they weren't so great actually, and their ticket sales were down dramatically...

Like I said, I don't doubt canadian fanatacism (and some US too) of Hockey, but the NFL just dwarfs it as I can see.  Even with a shorter season, it's generating more revenue even.  I don't know who has more teams though?  NHL I'm guessing?

I wish Hockey sold out all year everywhere (North and South) but it just never seems to.  Even some solid, winning teams don't sell out all the time...  Including in Canada.
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #80 on: March 12, 2004, 04:29 PM »
Yeah, but fanatacism should know no bounds right?  And Football's a hell of a lot more expensive here for its short season than Hockey is...  Shorter season, but equally high costs then when you look at season tickets and things.

People SHOULD be coming out to support their team if they are truly fanatical...  They don't always though.  The Leafs wouldn't be selling as well if they weren't so great.  It wasn't that long ago they weren't so great actually, and their ticket sales were down dramatically...

Like I said, I don't doubt canadian fanatacism (and some US too) of Hockey, but the NFL just dwarfs it as I can see.  Even with a shorter season, it's generating more revenue even.  I don't know who has more teams though?  NHL I'm guessing?

I wish Hockey sold out all year everywhere (North and South) but it just never seems to.  Even some solid, winning teams don't sell out all the time...  Including in Canada.

Not true about Toronto.  Even when losing, you can't get tickets.  People might not show up, but it is sold out.  Besides, they last won the cup in 1967.  I can't recall the last time they were in a cup final.  Fans still go.  

NFL is a huge market, no doubt.  But again, 300 million people growing up and playing football in the US.  How many grow up playing hockey?  In the northern STates, no doubt a ton, but Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana aren't exactly the most populous states.  Michigan and Illinois have football and basketball as well as baseball to compete.  Canada has 30 million people.  Oops.  

Fanatacism does know bounds, no way around it.  Do you honestly believe that if there were 82 NFL games per team per season the fanaticism would be on the same level?  Every game matters in the course of an NFL season.  Outside of the Bertuzzi incident in the Colorado-VAncouver game, losing 8-2 was meaningless for the most part.  Both teams will make the playoffs, have a decent shot at home ice advantage and even if not, get at least two home games.  

What I'm saying is you've got a limited time frame of games that ALL matter.  Of course the fan base is rabid.  If they miss a game or the team loses a game, there is a tangible impact.  If you miss an NHL game as a fan, so what?

The costs are simply a reflection of the fan base x limited market (i.e. games and seats).  NFL costs a lot because there are a lot of fans and a limited number of games.  $200 a game for football versus $100 a game for hockey?  Of course you're not going to go see this year's version of the Wild if you live in LA.  But in Canada, those same 11,500 are going to show up regardless of who's playing.  4000 will show up in LA.  For a football game between Minnesota and LA (oops, sorry Matt, hypothetically speaking) you could jack the price up to $400 and still sell out.  So many people, so few seats, so few games and everyone knows football.  

Team numbers are pretty similar.  But you don't find NFL teams in Canada or, for the most part (Green Bay) in relatively small markets.  the NHL is trying to limit small markets but going where it shouldn't.  Please explain how the following cities are hockey hotbeds:

Columbus
Nashville
San Jose
Anaheim
Carolina (sorry, I don't even know where they play out of)
Tampa Bay

And that's just to start.  Hockey just isn't meant for the southern US.  You want to put a team in Maine and can draw enough fans?  Go for it.  

I'll leave you with this thought.  If the NHL reduced it's season to 16 games prior to playoffs, how many empty seats do you think there would be?
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #81 on: March 12, 2004, 04:41 PM »
That's a good point on the compression of the NHL season...  I agree, I think you'd see more vehement fanatacism out of Canadian fans, and fans in general...

I disagree on the dramatic expansion of the NFL season though.  

I can safely say that Pittsburgh would still sell out.  I can't speak for all cities, but I would wager Pittsburgh at least would still sell out all year.

I really don't doubt Canadian fanatacism about Hockey, and that's not my point here, but I do think NFL fanatacism is 10x higher in every respect.  It's born and bred into us, as I believe Hockey once was to Canadians.  I just see a decline there.  I don't agree with it...  I want more Canadian Market teams personally because I'm "old School" like that I guess, but I really just don't see the same vehement support in Canadian Hockey that I do in U.S. Football...  I don't see much of ANY sport that compares short of possibly NASCAR (Believe it or not) in the southern U.S. and Soccer on a global scale.  Soccer's downright frightening at times.
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Offline Scott

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #82 on: March 12, 2004, 04:51 PM »
I think all three long season sports need to cut back...the NBA and NHL could have 2 gams against their Conference 1 against the other making for around, Basball could cut it down to 82 games and nobody outside of the places with new parks would really blink

Offline Morgbug

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #83 on: March 12, 2004, 05:18 PM »
I see your points Jesse.  One thing that caught my eye that I don't often contemplate is the following:

Quote
snip...as I believe Hockey once was to Canadians.  I just see a decline there.

I think you're right.  And I think that it has to do with spiraling salaries.  It is having a negative affect at all levels and we are seeing things that never occurred when I was a kid and playing.  

We now have hockey parents.  These are the idiots that are certain that their kid is going to the NHL.  They berate the kid, they berate the other parents, they berate the coaches, they berate other peoples kids, they berate the refs.  It is quite simply obscene.  I am a competitive individual but this is not competition, more obsession.  

As fans, I think there is a lot of bitterness.  Listening to multi-millionaires talk about how they deserve their salaries and more leaves most people cold.  I think for the average fan of hockey, regardless of nationality, is secretly hoping for a lockout.  It will be devastating and create a hole not dissimilar from the one I felt when the Jets left.  But it is necessary and I sorely hope that the owners stick to their guns.  Fix the problems relating to income, profit sharing and throw a frickin' bone to the fans but readjusting the the pricing, be it tickets, concessions or whatever.  

I also think that Canada as a whole is bitter evermore towards the US, though undeservedly so.  It is the league's management that needs an attitude adjustment as well.  While places like Toronto and Montreal are fairly secure, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary all function under the perpetual threat of moving to the US.  Not because they are rabid hockey fans (though they may well be) but because for a functional a profitable league to exist, that may have to happen.  No one wants to hear that and that isn't the point for the average fan anyway.  I don't believe any professional athlete deserves over a million dollars a year.  

Hmm, I wonder if hockey is a focal point for me ;)  A productive day at work, to say the least :-*
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Offline jokabofe

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #84 on: March 12, 2004, 08:54 PM »
Football fans even love their teams when they lose.  Hockey, sadly, doesn't have that kind of support South OR North of the border.

not true. i've been a hardcore new york rangers fan since around 1979. and i've been disappointed more times than i've been happy. and i won't even count this season in that tally.

but i will agree that football fans are more hardcore than hockey fans, baseball fans, or basketball fans, at least the ones that i know.

Offline Jesse James

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #85 on: March 13, 2004, 12:05 AM »
I am a Pens fan...  Imagine how I feel?   :P
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Offline Paul

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #86 on: March 13, 2004, 08:30 AM »
I'll take this opportunity to defend those of us Southerners who have hockey and Love it.  And give you an example of why having hockey teams in Phoenix, Nashville, Columbus, DALLAS etc is the only way to keep the NHL more viable than the XFL.

Prior to when the Stars moved here to Dallas, it was a sad state of Hockey Affairs indeed.  If as a kid I had wanted to play hockey (which I did, want to that is) I would have had to go to one of 3 malls in the area with a sheet of ice.  I would have had to wait till the "all skates" were over, the broomball, the wanna be figure skaters etc.  I think their was one actual "rec-league" rink, and I only know that because a transfer buddy from "up north" played hockey in High School.

I grew with one of my earlier memories as being at a Minor League game between the Fort Worth Red Wings (Farm club) and the Dallas Blackhawks (also a farm team).  My dad was a HUGE hockey fan (almost as fanatical as my Mom).  But I never got the opportunity to play.  So we had hockey, but not on TV (unless it was the Olympics)

Flash forward to 2004 and 10+ years after the Stars get here, I now have 3 Dr. Pepper Stars Centers within 10 minutes from my house, there are Hockey Leagues for people from 5 to WAY OVER 5.  

The High Schools now have Hockey Teams (Club level, but that is more Title 9 than interest).

You have to plant the seed.  It will grow.  And if I could just learn how to skate, I'd be playing Instructional League Hockey right now with all the other Over 30 first timers.

It also doesn't hurt that the area I am in is very desirable for the relocation of families from Northern Areas.  And their kids wanted to be able to continue playing.  It has even gotten to the point where there is a chain of (successful) Hockey Equipment Re-sale shops.

So, I'd say give it a chance south of the Polar Ice Cap.

on a second topic, With peoples schedules the way they are it is very difficult no matter how fanatic you are to commit to 41 Home Games (especially when the schedule is erratic at best).  I can make an appointment/proclamation that for 16 Sundays I will NOT be disturbed (assuming no Monday or Thursday Games) and it is pretty much a given.  When the Stars play on the West Coast a game won't start till 9:30 local time.

Another thing is and I don't want to start a socio-economic RS style political debate and nipple twist, but Hockey is still a "White" person sport.  Yes I am well aware that the league is not all lilly white, but for the most part the fan base is for now.  So the potential fan pool is really to only 60% or less of our US population.  

And if we are talking levels of Fanaticism in fans, my votes go for:

Texas High School Football
European Soccer as a distant second. (but that is another thread)

Sorry for the long post, I had to play catch up.  "GAME ON"

Offline Darth Paul

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #87 on: March 14, 2004, 12:58 PM »
Wow, a lot of replies!
Maybe I should clarify my earlier statement.   I said Canadians are fanatical about hockey.  I did not say they were fanatical about NHL hockey, although many are.
Hockey is part of the fabric of Canadian life and culture.  Many of us are on skates before we are in school.  The local rink is often the locus of community life, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.   For those who no longer play on ice, road hockey is the next best thing.  And it's not just kids, I play road hockey regularly with a group of 30-year-olds, and my buddies and I always play on our lunch break when we are at a location that is suitable.
Ask any Canadian to list 10 things that make Canada distinctly Canada, and one of those things, probably one of the first two things listed, will be hockey.  I'd be willing to bet my house on that.  Whether the person being asked is a sports fan or not.
Hockey is a big deal in Canada.  Even NHL hockey.  In Toronto season-ticket holders at the new ACC paid a $10,000 "license fee" per seat just for the privilege of buying a season-ticket :o
I don't know what this all says about my country  ???  

Offline Morgbug

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #88 on: March 16, 2004, 05:00 PM »
Some excellent points, senor mundheim.  

Quote
And give you an example of why having hockey teams in Phoenix, Nashville, Columbus, DALLAS etc is the only way to keep the NHL more viable than the XFL.
Disagree.  Phoenix is struggling, some 8 years into the game.  I expect Nashville and Columbus will as well.  Dallas is a success story, no doubt about it. Buried in the novella that we composed while you were away, I noted that Texas has more professional (NHL, semi-pro, etc) than does Canada.  No argument at all about the love and support of the game in Texas.  

I still maintain that no amount of time will fix the league in Tampa Bay, Carolina, Anaheim, etc.  

Quote
Another thing is and I don't want to start a socio-economic RS style political debate and nipple twist, but Hockey is still a "White" person sport.  Yes I am well aware that the league is not all lilly white, but for the most part the fan base is for now.  So the potential fan pool is really to only 60% or less of our US population.  

Full credit for having the cohones to say it bluntly.  I had alluded to it in the cost of equipment issue.  I do hope we are mature enough here to discuss this.  Without blatantly stereotyping, poor kids cannot afford all the necessary equipment for hockey.  A ball, bat and glove can be had for considerably less than a full set of hockey gear.  A field may typically be available for free, ice time is not.  

I am in no way suggesting that people of Mexican or African-American descent are not as afluent, capable or disinterested, just that in broad, general terms, the other "big three" will simply prove to be more popular.  I didn't grow up with football, so it's less likely I will encourage my kid to play.  

It simply galls me that I can tune into an important game in (pick one - Carolina, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, etc) and see empty seats.  As in half the place is empty.  A crucial game in Winnipeg circa 1992?  Standing room only.  But no, we don't need a team, the future is in the US?  Nuh-uh, not going to wash.  

Quote
Texas High School Football
European Soccer as a distant second. (but that is another thread)

Dramatic difference between high school sports in the US and Canada.  I played basketball in high school and probably the biggest crowd was 400 people, most of those waiting for a party at a guy's house that played on the team. Biggest crowd I played in front of in Fargo, ND - 14,000 people.  Surreal the way sports are supported there.  

I am not sure why the difference exists, but it does.  It's downright depressing for a US athlete to come here to play college sports.  College basketball draws maybe 400 on a good night, you can't get into the University of Minnesota.  Or anywhere else.  Just weird.  
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Offline Paul

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Re: NHL '03-'04
« Reply #89 on: March 16, 2004, 09:22 PM »
I would not say that the Southern US is the hotbed of hockey for "Adults", my point was mostly that it is now catching on in the kids/rec leagues, it will take time, but I think in my lifetime we will see a Hockey star that was born not only South of the US-Canadian border, but the Mason-Dixon line as well.  

Besides, the main problem for those empty seats is that they are all "Corporate" seats.  They are not for Fans they are for those that want to See and be Seen (or the Cocaine and Boob job crowd as the local radio calls them).  Kids don't work for corporations, they don't get to see the game up close.  It is a patience thing.  It will happen, maybe not in all the new franchises, but enough that it will take hold.

If it is all said and done, I PREFER teams to be in Canada, it is part of the Sports Heritage.  I by no means think that the US (and it's Dollar) is the savior of NHL Hockey, more like it is a vast new market that is just barely being tapped by the NHL marketing and farming machine.  

Teams in the NASCAR belt (Carolinas, Georgia, Florida) just have demographics issues.  The sport doesn't appeal to fans there.  You would think that after their run for the Cup just a few years into their existence that the Panthers would have enjoyed a loyal fan base for years.  

And to add to our discussion of "sociology".  There is a reason that Soccer is so big in Latin America.  You can play by yourself, you can play on a field for free(like Morgbug mentioned) and out of 22 people, only one person has to own or have access to a ball.   The same goes for Basketball in the Cities (I live in the Suburbs so most of the B-Ball is played in driveways, not at a local court with a bunch of people).  

But this all takes away from the excitement that is on its way.  We are only a few weeks away from the PLAYOFFS.

It will be Hockey on 3-4 channels every night.  All the games count.  They start at 5:30 or 6pm local time and the last one is over at 11pm.  I'll watch teams I haven't seen play all season.  Once the seeds are set, I usually pick my teams in this configuration:  Dallas Stars, then I pick an Eastern Conference Team (usually the Devils), then I pick my Team from Canada to watch and root for, then I root for whoever is playing against the team with Eric Lindros on it or on it's Injured list(because I wish nothing but failure for him).