Ever since the NHL Strike of 2004/05, I noticed a couple of very interesting things. First off, the NHL is getting more fans and more publicity, Before the strike, the league had trouble drawing huge crowds (except for the big markets like New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, etc.). They also had some difficulty competing with other American sports and other factors. Now I am noticing huge crowds at almost every game and recently more publicity. I have friends who weren't hockey fans before and now they play NHL 11 everyday and fight over who is better: Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin. However, I am noticing that there are a few things wrong with the league still that need to be fixed. Some I cannot put my finger on, but there is one thing that I can easily identify: bad markets.
There are three teams that come into play when i say that there are markets that are hurting the league: Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Nashville Predators. Every time I watch a home game of any of these three teams, there are barely any spectators or fans at all. On many occasions, there are more fans of the opposing teams present than fans of the home team. I find this kind of sad. There are other markets who will love to have an NHL team, but due to some rules regarding marketing distances and other bull$*!+ they can't. I say screw that. I think it will make things more competitive, team wise and market wise.
To make the NHL more profitable and more entertaining, the NHL should consider relocating some franchises to better markets, This might lead to the reconfiguring of divisions, but oh well. Here is a scenario.
Teams Relocating (w/ new location)
Florida Panthers (Hartford, CT)- there are rumors speculating about bring the Whalers back into the NHL. They should. I see people buying more vintage Whalers merchandise over Florida Panthers merchandise.
Phoenix Coyotes (Quebec, PQ)- If we bring back the Whalers, why not bring back the Nordiques. I remember watching a preseason game between Montreal and Boston in 2009 and another Canadiens game in 2010, people were wearing Nordiques jerseys and holding "Bring back the Nordiques" signs. They deserve to bring back the team.
Nashville Predators (Winnipeg, MTB)- "Bring back the Jets!", another series of signs Winnipeg residents were holding when the NHL hosts preseason games and other hockey events there in 2009 and 2010.
New York Islanders (Brooklyn, NY)- There are talks about moving the team to the new arena in Brooklyn since there are issues with Nassau Coliseum.
New Divisions- they will be reconfigured as you all can see
*Toronto will go back to the Western Conference, since they are the westernmost city out of the current Eastern Conference. They will play in the Central Division.
*Philly will move to the Southeast Division, Vancouver to the Pacific, Pittsburgh to the Northeast, and Boston to the Atlantic.