I just had a brilliant idea while reading about the agreed swapping of home games by Phoenix and Vancouver.
Instead of trading the games why not allow a big market team like Vancouver to purchase the home game that was scheduled for Phoenix from the Coyotes.
It works like this:
Phoenix would gross maybe (maaaaaaybe) $300,000 at the propposed game
Vancouver writes a contract to Phoenix for the rights to the game for $600,000
Vancouver succesfully sells out the game (as always) and grosses 3,500,000
Phoenix now makes an extra $300,000 that they wouldn't have been able to before because putting a hockey rink half an hour outside of a city, even a good NHL city, is a bad idea, especially when that team was so bad for so long and even when they got succesful was actually more boring to watch than when they were brutal.
Vancouver invested $600,000 but guess what, they just netted another 2.9 million doing two important things: 1 allowing them to help offset the losses of terrible franchises like Phoenix under the NHLs communist regime IE: Revenue Sharing, and #2: increase Vancouver's proffits, thus increasing their value and making the NHL very happy.
This is a win, win, win, win, win situation for the league, fans, franchises, etc...
What if Vancouver could buy away games from Phoenix, Tampa, Florida, Columbus, Dallas, Carolina, Colorado, Nashville and the Islanders, say ten games a year, and pick up an extra 30 million in revenue, while doling out an extra $300,000 to each of those teams in added revenue?
It might be a slight to the fans in those cities, but, that's collateral damage. Having fewer games in small market cities might actually increase the average sale price of tickets in these markets as their would be more demand if their were fewer games, right?
The best part is it might make for great TV and show the NHL as a groundbreaking, recession busting league and not the miss-managed league for a savage sport.
The highlights of the NHL season ratings wise have become free agency, the trade deadline and the entry draft; how cool would watching the pre-season home game live auction be? Fans could watch as their teams improved their chances of making the playoffs by acquiring more home games for what should be an easier and more comfortable schedule.
This isn't unfair, really, in the English Premier League if you suck you get relogated to a lower league even if you are financially stable -- this system would atleast keep these teams in the league.