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NHL eyes new TV landscape

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 22: Sidney Crosby #87

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 22: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period goal against the Florida Panthers at Consol Energy Center on December 22, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) (Credit: Getty/Justin K. Aller)

The NHL’s deals with NBC and Versus expire after this season, and the league’s TV future is among the most talked-about questions in the business.

Coming off a strong 2009-10 and indirectly aided by the success of the Olympic hockey tournament, hockey is feeling pretty good about itself as a television property. Or at least better than unusual.

But before making any decisions, including entertaining the notion of a return to ESPN, the league is waiting for Comcast’s purchase of NBC to be approved by regulators, likely in January.

Comcast owns Versus and might seek to rebrand it, perhaps making for a perfect fit for hockey that involves its two current national partners.

“I think there are so many benefits as we look at a combined company that will really make them a better company and potentially a better partner for us,’’ NHL COO John Collins said.

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