SBJ/20090629/This Week's News

Shift change in NHL biz operations

NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins overhauled the league’s business operations last week, restructuring NHL Enterprises, broadcasting and communications into an 11-division operation.

The new divisions are sales; integrated marketing; digital media; events; NHL Network U.S.; broadcasting business relations and scheduling; production, operations and engineering; creative studios; communications and editorial; international development; and strategic planning.

The New NHL
A breakdown of the league’s reorganized business operations
Division: Sales
Head: Keith Wachtel, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: Corporate and advertising sales across all league platforms
Division: Integrated marketing
Head: Brian Jennings, executive vice president
Areas of responsibility: Integrating the brand and product across all business partners
Division: Digital media
Head: Perry Cooper, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: Business of NHL.com, GameCenter Live, NHL Shop and Auction, NHL Mobile and Center Ice
Division: Events
Head: Don Renzulli, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: Winter Classic, NHL awards, international games, All-Star Game, draft and other events
Division: NHL Network U.S.
Head: Jody Shapiro, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: Business and distribution of the U.S. network, and footage and images licensing businesses
Division: Broadcasting business relations and scheduling
Head: Steve Hatze Petros, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: All league scheduling and working with broadcast rights holders
Division: Production, operations and engineering
Head: Scott Davis, executive vice president
Areas of responsibility: Operational issues with respect to broadcasting and digital platforms
Division: Creative and fan experiential strategies
Head: André Mika, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: The creative strategy of NHL Network, In-Arena, NHL.com, Mobile, Live TV And Entertainment
Division: Communications and editorial
Head: Mike Berland, interim consultant
Areas of responsibility: Public relations and editorial content across all media assets
Division: International
Head: Ken Yaffe, senior vice president
Areas of responsibility: Continue the league’s international push with overseas exhibition games
Division: Strategic planning
Head: Steve McArdle, vice president
Areas of responsibility: Provide analysis and strategic planning for all business groups

The structure recreates the league’s operations, which previously consisted of three divisions: business and media; communications, branding, club consulting and service; and league operations. Those divisions were created in a 2007 restructuring.

In communicating the changes to staff by memo last week, Collins said the restructuring would allow the NHL to further his goal of “delivering scale” across the league’s platforms, so that the NHL can develop a “robust advertising marketplace” and “ensure long-term rightsholder and marketer interest” in the sport of hockey.

The restructuring memo was delivered to staff the day after the league let go more than 20 employees. A spokesperson said the league plans to hire 20 new employees who have the skills necessary to support the NHL’s expansion as a media company. An additional 23 staffers will be transferred to new positions.

The league’s relatively new club consulting division, which worked with teams to improve ticket and sponsorship sales, was one of the hardest hit by the restructuring. The group will shrink from 14 to 10 employees and be spread across the integrated marketing and strategic planning divisions. The integrated marketing division will support clubs’ marketing efforts while strategic planning will support ticket sales. Collins said the shift will allow the NHL “to more directly connect our national businesses with the local needs of the clubs.”

“Everyone at the League needs to understand the clubs business,” Collins added in the memo, “and each department must operate their business as to grow the combined League and Clubs’ revenues.”

League operations also will transform under the new structure. Formerly a stand-alone division that included information technology, scheduling, hockey operations, legal, finance and administration, portions of the division will be integrated into other groups. In an effort to have schedules designed favorably for local and national rights holders, scheduling will become part of the broadcasting business relations division. Information technology will be integrated into digital media, which includes NHL.com, GameCenter Live, NHL Shop and Auction, NHL Mobile and Center Ice.

The restructuring extends Collins’ emphasis on not only the digital business but also the events and the NHL Network U.S. businesses.

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