Just 1½ years after a labor dispute brought hockey to a halt, the NHL finds itself stronger than ever with the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings about to battle for the Stanley Cup.
It's had record television deals, higher player salaries and a growing fan base.
"The fact is we needed to change the fundamentals to get our game healthy," Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a CNBC interview, referring to the work stoppage. "We are in a much better place now, because we took the hard medicine in the short term."
As the Rangers take the ice Wednesday night in Los Angeles, fans will see a rare meeting between the two biggest hockey markets in the U.S.
The marquee matchup has created record ticket prices, particularly at New York's Madison Square Garden. The Rangers haven't won a Stanley Cup since the 1993-1994 season.
In the interview this week on "Squawk on the Street," Bettman said there has been huge demand to get into arenas.
"When you talk about average ticket prices on the secondary market, it shows that perhaps our clubs don't even charge enough," he said.
—By CNBC's Jessica Golden