The NHL is hell bent on making hockey work in the United States.
They may be on the wrong track, at least in the short term, by focusing on Sunbelt teams and maybe Kansas City and Las Vegas in the future. But they have correctly identified a long term solution - investing in grassroots, youth and amateur hockey in the USA.
This past season the NHL committed to up to $8 million US of financial support directly to USA Hockey, who then administers it as they see fit. That's up from $400,000 in 2005 and $1.2 million in 2008. The goal is to get more American players in the long term, in order to better stock and market American players in those non-traditional hockey markets.
Perhaps even the NHL is inspired by Barack Obama's stimulus plans.
But the NHL is missing the boat is outside of the USA. You know, in the countries that actually produce most of the players in the league - Canada and the European countries, especially in Russia and the Czech Republic, where hockey at the grassroots level is potentially about to face dark days.
This past season the NHL handed out $125,000 to Hockey Canada for grassroots programs in hockey's #1 country. I do not know how much, if any, the NHL gave any of the European countries. I suspect it would be no more than what Canada got, and certainly nowhere near as much as the $8 million USA Hockey got and will continue to get in coming years.
Beyond that, the NHL needs to better compensate CHL junior hockey teams that develop so much professional talent. And of course the European federations have long been after better transfer agreements.
The NHL needs to be rethink their sudden new found generosity and spread the wealth.