It has been common consensus for some time that the NHL is on life support. Games can only be found on a lousy, hard-to-find, b-list cable network, the ratings suck anyway, ESPN doesn't cover hockey because the sport is lame (rather than their lack of a vested interest in its promotion), and attendance at most arenas is down. All in all, the National Hockey League sucks and nobody in the United States cares about it.
Maybe nobody watched or attended the actual games last season because they were spending all of their time buying crap tons of NHL merchandise online. The league reports that their online merchandise sales have increased for ten straight seasons, and this past year was the best ever---47% more sales than the year previous. The two individual teams with the biggest gains in merch sales: the Sabres and the Ducks. The most popular individual player jersey: some young stud named Sidney Crosby. I've never heard of him either.
So nobody cares about the NHL but licensed merchandise sales have increased dramatically. Maybe it's just the strong Canadian dollar, but last time I checked, the Sabres, Ducks and Crosby's Penguins were American teams. The Senators enjoyed strong sales after their impressive playoff showing, but nobody spent money like people in New York, California and Pennsylvania, not to mention the fans of 24 other NHL teams, most of which are US-based. Only three teams suffered losses over the course of the season, and while I have no doubt a couple of them were American teams (Coyotes and Thrashers, anyone?), at least one HAD to have been Canadian.
Seriously, who in their right mind would buy an Oilers jersey?