With the NBA headed to its own lockout, the NHL has everything to gain. A total of 15 NBA teams share a market with NHL franchises. At least some of those fans who regularly tune into basketball coverage over next season will make the switch to hockey. All that momentum and increased fanship could be lost if there is another NHL lockout in 2012-13 though.
As I wrote last month: The NHL will crumble if the league misses action for the second time in less than a decade. It took the rise of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York franchises plus the additions of once-in-a-lifetime superstars and the creation of outdoor games for the NHL to once again be considered among North America’s big four sports. Rule changes, epic Finals, and extreme parity thanks to the salary cap didn’t hurt either. After being named the top sports league in the country by the Sports Business Journal this year, the NHL seemed to have turned a complete 180. An error such as this one though, would spell the end for the NHL.