Deadspin brought up a post from the Situationist from last week that makes a very good argument that ESPN is trying to hasten the NHL's demise. The well-detailed article is located here.
The sad thing is that ESPN has this power because so many people turn to them for their sports highlights and news, despite the network having virtually no credibility. This is the same network that didn't cover the AFL when NBC had it, but now runs a ton of highlights and encourages employees to wear AFL-branded clothing to work (despite a no jersey and no hat policy ... as I can personally attest to).
Of all randomness, my mom walked in and saw the article and asked 'how can that be? espn covers lots of things and doesn't have the contracts for all of them.' So I thought about it, and now, they pretty much do - outside of hockey. They air baseball, basketball (pro and college), football (pro, college and arena), golf, nascar (and irl), soccer, poker and their own branded X Games (they don't bother with the various tours that CBS and NBC air). So they do appear to cover everything - everything that they have paid broadcast rights to - and the everyday viewer is none the wiser. So when they go out of their way to say that hockey sucks (links available in the story above), the casual sports fans believe them.
As I know most of you already know this, and share my frustration, I guess I just wanted to share the link and lament Comcast's failure to make their pet network (Versus) a capable rival for the Great Satan that is ESPN.