George was kind enough to send me this depressing bit: ON THE BRINK OF IRRELEVANCE: Hockey Through American Eyes
Congratulations are surely in order. It took nearly a decade, but the NHL has finally been run into the ground. While it would certainly be convenient to place all of the blame on the shoulders of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association President Bob Goodenow, the decay of the National Hockey League in the United States has, in actuality, been the result of negative associations (everything from annoying glowing pucks, crazed hockey dads, low ratings, and even un-Americanness) that have crept into the subconscious of the average American. With the 2004-05 season officially over, and the chances of a season next year becoming doubtful, the lone silver lining of the league's uncertain future is the opportunity to re-introduce the game of hockey to Americans, free of all these damaging stereotypes.
Sad but true. At this point I think the best thing that could happen is a total restructuring of the professional game.
The one good thing is that it's been a banner year for minor league and college hockey. True hockey fans do exist, and they will watch hockey whereever they can find it.