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December 28, 2012 | 12:53pm ET
The future is beyond bright
 All the doom-and-gloom surrounding the lockout isn't that devastating for the NHL.

TORONTO -- In the wake of the NHL's newest Collective Bargaining Agreement proposal, tabled to the NHLPA last night, I couldn't help but reflect on the state of the league.

Yes, the NHL seems to have made some solid movement in their latest offer (six-year contract max, up from five; 10% variance, up from 5%; etc.), but there's still much that needs to be addressed. The NHLPA is still reviewing it and will speak with its membership later today, before responding to the NHL.

In the meantime, I'm left pondering the NHL's current condition.

Sponsors are pissed off. Television networks are annoyed. Fans are disgusted. Team executives, coaches, players and media members are embarrassed.

And while many of the owners are equally ashamed, they're not doing that bad.

Think about it.

A significant reason as to why the amount of league-wide revenues has jumped is because the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg. As much as Gary Bettman and the NHL didn't want to admit it, Atlanta was a bad market for the NHL -- that's not a knock against the fan base, there were many factors involved in their demise. Getting another Canadian team on the map was long-overdue and it's proved successful (imagine how much that'll increase once the team makes the playoffs).

But the return of the Jets is just a fraction of what's to come.

The New York Islanders will be moving into the Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season after signing a 25-year lease agreement in late-October.

Heading to Brooklyn not only opens up their fan base, and allows for several Rangers fans to enter the building, it attracts new players to their rising team. With John Tavares leading the charge, and the likes of Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhart and Nino Niederreiter in the system, their future looks tremendously bright, which several unrestricted free agents will take into consideration now that they'll be so Brooklyn.

What does that mean? That means increased ticket sales (even though the total capacity in the Barclays Center is less than that of the Nassau Memorial Coliseum), increased merchandise sales, increased sponsorship revenue, and more.

In Phoenix, the Coyotes are a mere formality away from being officially sold to Greg Jamison's group, Hockey Partners LLC -- providing he has the funds.

On Dec. 21, the City of Glendale signed a new lease management agreement for Jobing.com Arena, which calls for $320 million to be paid to Jamison's group over its 20-year term. Jamison now has until Jan. 31 to close the deal, which is expected.

As a result, the Coyotes will finally be able to move forward without having to clear roster moves with the NHL. Translation: GM Don Maloney can actually do his job properly, and given their recent success, he should be able to add some solid pieces to the roster.

But aside from the on-ice improvements, there are already plans to change the name of the franchise to the Arizona Coyotes, which should lead to a new logo and new jerseys. You know what all that means... increased ticket sales, increased merchandise sales, increased sponsorship revenue, and more (including State tax benefits).

Another team hoping for similar results is the New Jersey Devils, hosts of the 2013 NHL Draft, who are on the verge of being sold to Calgary billionaire Bill Gallacher (first reported in August). The extent of the sale is not yet clear, but news should begin to hit local outlets some time in January.

The addition of Gallacher, providing everything moves forward, will solidify the Devils' financial stability, get them out of debt, and allow them to remain competitive -- meaning guys like Zach Parise will never be allowed to leave again.

If my math is correct, that's good news for three more NHL teams.

And with Quebec City and Seattle knocking on the door for a franchise, and Toronto in the shadows, did you really think the NHL was worried about losing a couple billion dollars of projected revenue (minus the more than $800 million in player salaries that will be lost this year if the season resumes in mid-January)?

The NHL has been on a huge incline since 2004-05. Despite this recent bump in the road (that's all they view it as), they'll remedy any issues with their current sponsors and they'll continue to attract new ones. The fans will return, and the interest in the sport will continue to grow (yes, you'll stay pissed for a while, but you'll be back). Next season's Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto will be gigantic, the 2015 All-Star Game (presumably in Columbus) will be a huge spectacle, and the annual Awards Show will continue to attract bigger and brighter stars.

So as shitty as this lockout has been for most of us, don't think for a second that the NHL hasn't mapped everything out. They've formalized Plans A through ZZ. If one thing doesn't work out, it's on to the next one.

As the NHLPA pieces together its counter-proposal today, we're still a long way from reaching an agreement on a new CBA.

While he wouldn't comment on last night's offer, NHL Deputy Commissioner told me this morning there are "no meetings planned at this point."

And there won't be until the main points are ironed out.

The NHL also addressed several new items as part of their proposal, which I can only assume relates to escrow, international play, league-wide issues (such as realignment, scheduling, etc.), and that will be a concern for the Players.

The two sides will continue to talk. The NHLPA could still file its Disclaimer of Interest on Jan. 2, but that shouldn't halt negotiations.

In the meantime, the NHL is putting the finishing touches on a 48-game schedule to start mid-to-late January and they're reaching out to their sponsors and networks.

As for cries for contraction, stop dreaming. Stop it. It's not going to happen. Give it a rest. The Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes aren't going anywhere. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars are just fine.

The Florida Panthers, well, that might be a different story, but if they remain competitive, they'll be okay. Otherwise, the NHL knows it has three cities waiting on the sidelines, and that's accompanied by a $400 million to $500 million relocation fee -- and that goes into the owners' pockets.

You'll see expansion -- yup, I said it -- before you'll see the League even consider contracting to 28 or 26 teams.

There's a good chance the NHL will grow to 32 teams by the middle point of the new CBA. And, for argument's sake, if Quebec City and Seattle are awarded franchises, that's not only between $800 million to $1 billion in expansion fees (again, going to the owners), that's a huge increase to Hockey Related Revenue (ticket sales, merchandise sales, sponsorship, TV deals, etc.). Of course, that's more than 60 new jobs for the Players, so they're happy, too.

At the end of the day, a new CBA will should be reached in the next two weeks (paperwork and all), upon which the rest of the plan will be put into motion.

Like the NBA's lockout last year (the NHL lockout will run about a month longer), frustrations will boil over and everyone will forget about it once the players hit the ice. The League will execute another attractive marketing campaign, the Stanley Cup will be awarded, Molson Coors will stop losing $500,000 per week in projected revenues, and life in the NHL will go onward and upward.

As unnecessary as this lockout truly is, it's not as devastating to the League as you may think.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
 

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ARCHIVES 
Dec. 07, 2012 WTF happened?
Dec. 03, 2012 NHL COO none too pleased
Nov. 04, 2012 Slowly, progress being made
Nov. 02, 2012 NHL, NHLPA set to meet
Aug. 30, 2012 Framework in place?
Aug. 28, 2012 Not so fast, NHL
Aug. 21, 2012 Negotiations set to intensify
Aug. 14, 2012 Positive signs stem from PA proposal
Aug. 13, 2012 NHLPA to present "alternative view"

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