1) The article linked to this blog piece was actually written during Detroit's FIRST playoff series with the Flames. At the time it was news worthy that the RedWings didn't sell out a playoff game. After all this is "HockeyTown".
2) Now we read that the RedWings didn't sell out ANY of their playoff games. Folks, that's 11 contests that had tickets available in a city that boasted one of the hardest to find tickets for hockey of any U.S. based market. Though we're sure Bettman will have ready-made excuses for why this is so, we feel this has to be an ominous occurrence. This would have been an unheard of happening a few years ago.
3) We were hard on the New Jersey fans for non support of their team, but at least there the team has almost never had a huge following, despite their on-ice success. Not so in Detroit. The name "HockeyTown" was given due to the loyal nature of their fans. Now, a non sell out for an early first round game is one thing but to not sell out any Conference Final games is inexcusable. For it to happen there means it could conceivably happen anywhere south of the border.
4) For now it seems the game is as strong as ever in Canada. In fact the 6 franchises there supply the league with a whopping 40% of all the revenue generated!! That's an amazing stat, and one that can not make Mr. Bettman very happy. It was after all one of his stated goals to make the NHL a true national sport in the States, and not a niche sport in a few selected markets. Now, even worse not only is the game NOT catching on in non traditional markets but its now becoming difficult to sell to traditionally solid/safe U.S markets.
5) This is why we believe that Jim Balsillie's probable move of the Predators to Hamilton Ontario won't be blocked by the NHL. Sure Bettman will give lip service to the folks in Music City, but in the end it makes financial sense to move the team from a low income to a high income location. It would be one less team in need of assistance.
6) The NHL better hope that the economy in both countries remains as robust as it has the past few years and the exchange rate remains favourable for the Canadian franchises. Else the league, already on thin ice will find itself drowning in red ink!