The NHL expanded way too quickly the last 20 years or so and that is squarely on the owners. Before the last CBA the players were making way more money than the small market teams could realistically afford and the players capitulated. Contracts leveled out or shrunk. Then certain teams (owners again) started skirting the CBA by doing assinine contracts like the contracts where a team signs a player for $100m and 15 years or some such crap.
Meh, it's like the owners are too stupid to realize that they have a great product, but a very limited market (comparatively speaking to the NFL, NBA, MLB). What they have to do is shrink the league, get rid of some teams (Phoenix? Atlanta? the Florida teams? really?) and maximize the product (less players, but better player, get rid of the Eurotrash) and let the game get really popular again in the cities that have the teams.
Really, how hard is this crap?