The biggest obstacle to the popularity of hockey isn't the cost of playing the game. It is the notion that you need to play the game to appreciate it. In my opinion we need to create more appreciation for the act of skating and need not be so worried about whether or not some kid is living the dream. It is my belief that simply putting on a pair of skates is enough to create a tremendous appreciation for the sport. The cold weather culture phenom is missing the point. If you live in the north learning to skate is seen as no different than learning to ski etc. If the league pushed skating as a relatively common and accessible sporting activity it'd go a long way of growing the game. Hockey is the pinnacle of winter sports and we should stop trying to treat the game like it's some wholesome american past time.