Theres been a lot of talk lately about Hockey not being a major sport in the United States. Gary Bettman gets a lot of crap for bringing hockey to places it isn't supposed to belong. I disagree. Hockey is thoroughly entrenched as the 4th sport in the United States, behind Football (1), Baseball (2), and Basketball (3). These three sports have a few key advantages over hockey: 1) Grass roots players. Theres a lot more kids playing the above three sports than hockey. Part of it is rink availability, part of it is culture. 2) The Media is on their side. Hockey is not a big draw, because it is not very TV friendly. Therefore, the media tends to ignore hockey when it can. 3) The big teams win. This is huge. I'd like to focus on #3 first. Who can you blame for hockey's bad TV contract? I blame the Rangers. Well, not just the Rangers, but our big market teams in general. The NHL cannot afford to have LA, Chicago, and New York out of the playoffs year after year. The New York Media is the greatest equalizer in sports reporting. If you want to create a superstar in the NHL today, he's going to have to come out of New York. Now, about the grassroots movement in hockey. Gary Bettman has done an excellent job in expanding hockey to the outer limits of the United States. Ice Rinks and kids hockey teams are darting up in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, California, Arizona, and plenty of other places. By placing pro teams in these markets, hockey's seeds have been planted. It worked in New Jersey, I know that first hand (it doesn't help that we have three teams eating up our market, but it seems like a new ice rink opens every year in Northern Jersey). The Rangers can win over the media and we win over the people. In short, Gary Bettman's long term plan will work, and in the short term we will improve only if the big market teams can improve.