The NHL is seven months removed from a lockout that could have crippled its popularity.

No such result occurred and now league officials believe their product can achieve unprecedented appeal.

The Penguins' Sidney Crosby is among the biggest reasons.

NHL executive vice president of marketing Brian Jennings was in Pittsburgh last week for the league's annual NHL Exchange a merger of merchandise ideas and retailers. Jennings though wasn't spending time thinking about T-shirt designs or promotional giveaways.

He had the game's brightest star in mind.

“Sidney Crosby is a big part of what has made us so successful in recent years” he said.

The NHL enjoyed record attendance TV ratings and merchandise sales during the 2013 season. There was little reason to believe that was likely before the season.

After all Major League Baseball did not immediately recover from a work stoppage that affected the 1994 and '95 seasons. The same can be said of NBA work stoppages that cut parts of the 1998-99 and 2011-12 seasons.