Cable presense is fine. But when no one is watching it, there's a problem. Plus for the sport to truely work, it needs to have a broadcast presense, like ABC. Major PGA Tourney's and the PBA have better ratings. Something needs to be done.
Teams are still drawing, on average, over 15,000 people a night to arenas around North America.
The TV ratings are what they are, but hockey will always have a cable presense (and now, with Centre Ice, even more of one).
If the league can keep salaries down, it will encourage more investment in some of these franchises by ownership groups who won't be looking at a $50 million loss every season.
The NHL is fine, depending on how is labor thing goes and whether or not Gary Bettman continues to sellout this sport for the sake of some guy watching ESPN in Nebraska.
And I didn't mention the Labor dispute. THe NHL is in dire circumstances IMO.