I've seen this point being made a few times now and I simply have to disagree. MLB competes with the Japanese baseball league, which is a fairly well financed institution in a wealthy and populous nation. And there are many solid basketball leagues around the world. In fact, much to my chagrin, b-ball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Even Israel has a league that has attracted the odd ex-NBAer, albeit usually minor.
So the situation facing hockey is not unique except insofar as how where the competition is coming from. For baseball that competition will come overwhelmingly from Japan, not the poorer nations to our south. For basketball, that competition seems to come from European leagues in general. Look at the significant number of European players to come into the game in recent years. As for hockey the competition seems to be heavily weighted toward Russia (although let's face it, Russians are not the only peeps going home...).
No, they're not, but alot of the rest of the players are the equivalent of AAAA baseball players. Like our old friend Nick Bergfors.
The problems with the expansion are pointed out above. Eventually they probably will have one team in every decent European hockey country, but that just makes the league ridiculously unwieldly and the opponents will mostly be some team from East Jabib. It's not a good business model, it's pretty much a dick waving contest. In European soccer this works because you buy into a national league when you want to dick wave. Here, it's going to turn into a half Russian/half Euro/all clusterfvck league.
And the thing is, these guys all go over, but then they come back. Pretty much everyone who has been poached will play in the NHL again. Why? Because of the one player cap exception. That's where the money comes from. Ironically enough, if SKA had signed Bobrovsky, Kovy probably gets told to go fly a kite and he mopes his way back to the Devils, and we never know.