September 20, 2012
Honestly, killing the ESPN contract probably killed any hope the league ever had of becoming a major sport in this country. All the ways Bettman tried to grow the sport were destroyed by it because now people literally don't know any of the teams or players. ESPN was the league's only real exposure.
It's powerful competition, though. The expansions were disastrous, and the Neutral Zone Trap wrecked what was previously so appealing about hockey.