The NHL was profitable last year.
The problem is that the top 6-10 teams made all the money. There are 6-10 teams that are structurally unprofitable. They can't exist without subsidy from either the high revenue teams or the players. Until that imbalance is corrected there won't be labor peace. The options are increased revenue sharing, moving franchises, an MLB dual tier system, or player pay cuts. So far it's all been on the players backs. Until this changes, the players shouldn't agree to any deal.
Why not peg the salary cap floor to either $??M or a % of team revenue? (which ever is lower)
Allow the poor to pay less, but guarantee that total player salaries meet the 50-55% revenue mark.
The NHL proposal included a bit of this when it allowed the trading of cap space (it wasn't stated as such, but it was this in effect)
Eventually, those lower revenue franchises will either find a stable position (a la nashville) or move to higher revenue area (atlanta, phx)