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Shift change in NHL biz operations
Published June 29, 2009
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 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.