Its a long article, but its well worth reading. It in fact shows that the NHL as emerged from the lockout stronger than it was before. For all the doom and gloom that was discussed, the NHL is looking like future growth is going to be a reality.
Bettman made a calculated business decision. He sacrificed a few months and ticked off a lot of people, but he secured a better labor agreement for the owners and could count on the fans and sponsors to come back, based on history and cold, hard data.
Personally, I think it is the shortened season. With a 48 game schedule, everything is magnified. Every game is important. With 82 games in the regular season, every game isn't as important. I know the ownership doesn't want to hear this, but having less games would keep this exciting.
From a pissed off fan point of view, I won't be going to see any games in the NHL for a couple years. No Winter Classic for me next year. The NHL and NHLPA have equally pissed me off, and I won't be investing in their product for a while. I am glad the NHL is back and they are strong, but I am still a little peeved.