Chicago, near the heart of the United States. A step away from the west, a step away from the Northeast. Two steps away from the South and a step away from Ontario -- the center of the Canadian media and the majority of Hockey Fans in North America.
And yet, Chicago -- a black-sheep patriarch of the NHL in the US. The estranged parent that has all the talent and love in the world but just can't make good on it for one reason or another... And the entire family suffers because Chicago just seem to see straight..
Chicago, Illinois should be the center of things for NHL operations in the US -- being relatively close to Canada and relatively close to other regions as I already noted. Chicago should be one of the strongest hockey markets in the National Hockey League -- being in the middle of the Rust Belt, having such a long standing and storied franchise.
But it isn't.
The Chicago Blackhawks are a third tier franchise in it's own city -- arguably behind the AHL franchise that plays in town. Less appealing to local corporations when it comes to season tickets than Arena Football. And where Chicago has failed -- refusing to endear itself to the fans, refusing to change and adapt to the times, acting as if it's entitled while the loyalist numbers within the city and region dwindle with each passing year, and refusing to reach out to it's base -- so goes the NHL. Numbers are down across two countries.
I realize that people are going to argue with what I am implying. New York and Toronto hold the league's interest and priorities. Yet as one city is the corporate base and the media center of the US (New York) it happens to also be the most overhyped market in the country Toronto (as well as the other Canadian cities) is solid by itself. Reaching new fans isn't so tough north of the border as it is here in the States.
I could easily have just linked to Bill Wirtz "fan site" to cover my point, but I want to go beyond Wirtz in argument. It's a fact that the Original Six teams are draws throughout the NHL -- sans one team. That team has lost our interest and has been hiding in the corner, unable to get a prominent position in the standings or in stature as one of the founding members of the National Hockey League. With so many fans that (usually) can experience winter sports -- why is it that the team arguably in the middle of hockey's base in America is allowed to actively limit itself and thus hurt the league... year, after year, after year...?