"I'm not sure the NHL returns with 30 teams on the other side of a lost season. Can the weaker markets truly survive this? That's damage both sides would feel."Even Forbes has made the argument for contraction, thinking it could be the best hope and saying Western and Southern teams aren't hockey markets and the "fans" are "fans" at all. They know something about money, but I don't know about pleasing the masses.
If that were to happen, it could do much more damage to the revenue stream and how it is divided or proposed to be divided in any projection that comes out. Sure, the lower teams wouldn't bring in much revenue; but any hit would skew the boat one way or another.
Of course, the question becomes-- how many teams do you cut to make the league healthy again?? Is it two, four, 10?? The question will vary depending upon what people believe from their own view. And while the lower market teams would take away some money-- those teams could be the ones bleeding the money, as well-- thus making their elimination something that could keep the league healthy under whomever terms and conditions the NHL and NHLPA agree on.
That said, that's going to hurt the NHLPA as well for the obvious reason of jobs being lost by the players. Even if two teams are gone, that makes 64 players without jobs (based on the 23 players per roster ideal) and you can bet Don Fehr won't like that one bit...which means that Bettman and the Board of Governors could be touting this as a possibility soon.
Which is what makes this whole lockout posturing insane. But we all knew that.
In any case, the idea of contraction is something that could make the league better off than it is right now because it could cut cost of travel, lessen the amount of money lost, and while losing revenue in some sorts; it'll be for the greater health of the league and revenue sharing if something were to happen. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing a couple teams taken out for the health of the league, but the fans who would suffer would probably revolt as it were-- though when has the NHL thought of the fans, am I right, folks??
Expect this to be the new talking point as this battle goes around and around into possibly the New Year. Unless there's a Christmas or Festivus Miracle, this thing will go on and on with teams, players, and fans hurting-- but maybe some other leagues reaping the benefits-- hockey or otherwise.