If thats the case why do we have consistently crappy teams?
1: Because no matter how much talent you have in a league, some talent will always be better than others, or more ready for prime time than others.
2: Because the deeper talent in each individual team relative to the 80's is competing against as deep or deeper of talent in each of the other 29 teams.
3: Because mismanagement and/or crass, money-sucking ownership happens and will continue to happen no matter how talented the players are compared with other eras
If you invented a time machine and pitted the New York Islanders of 2011-2012 against the New York Islanders of 1984 -- yes, the dynasty team -- I think it would surprise you how well the current, horrible Islanders team stood up against the old champs.
I think the bottom lines have a deep talent pool to... but the top end players... nope.
And that will always be the case no matter how many, or how few, teams there are in the league. Since it's very possible to place well in this league without "top end players," or at least without premium name brand superstars, I'm not sure how relevant the point is.
Especially because 80% of the people using a mantra like this, when they say "top end players" actually mean "top end forwards," and don't give a lot of thought to actual roster construction beyond "we have this one very skilled guy who scores a lot of goals." A superstar can be a crutch or even a liability if he has to make himself the story rather than being one player out of many (ref: Kovalchoke).
Building around superstars has been proved to be one of a number of ways to construct a winning roster.
Yep. I misspoke and tried to cover my butt. It happens. Need to stop doing that. Especially when the Battle of Alberta kind of helps my argument. I'm not sure either of those teams would have the rich history they had without the other to hold them to a higher standard.
But i find it hard to believe that there's enough good talent for 30 teams let alone 32
Then I don't think your standard of what constitutes "talent" is reasonable.
You can easily run a 32 team league right now talentwise as long as you aren't insane enough to think that the fact that every team in the league isn't the Red Wings means there's a talent shortfall.
The presence of "have-nots" is less relevant than the question of whether it's possible to get off the list. Teams like the Predators and Lightning have proven that this is very much possible.
Meanwhile one of the NHL's former crown jewels is the New York Islanders, and they by any reasonable analysis should be a "have" except for mismanagement and extenuating circumstances. There's more to why teams struggle than "bad hockey markets" or "not enough talent."