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SBD/January 30, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NHL COO John Collins Has Helped Build Global Brand, Taken League Into 21st Century
Published January 30, 2012
A NEW FOCUS: In Toronto, Kevin McGran reported the NHL "used to operate on a star system," but the league now "follows a different path, one forged by the NFL, the behemoth when it comes to sports marketing." Instead of focusing on "stars, it focuses on the game, the event." Univ. of Ottawa associate professor of sports business Norman O'Reilly said of yesterday's All-Star Game, "It would be naïve to say the loss of Crosby and Ovechkin doesn’t hurt (but) you’ll probably see ratings that are as good as last year. That’s evidence of success in marketing." Florida-based Sports & Sponsorship President Scott Becher said, "It’s important to market players, but first come the fundamentals and tweaking the game to be more fan friendly. It’s working." McGran noted the NHL "benefited by hiring" Collins, and the league, "by luck or design, has its very successful Winter Classic." There are "other things the league has done beyond the Winter Classic, like its '24/7' show on HBO and its in-house NHL.com (now in multiple languages) to reach fans in underserved areas." The league is also "big on social media." O’Reilly said that videos "explaining suspensions -- released online and via Twitter -- by NHL vice-president Brendan Shanahan may well be an unintended stroke of genius, appealing to the water-cooler crowd" (TORONTO STAR, 1/29).