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Sports League of the Year: NHL

The NHL won the 2014 Sports Business Award for League of the Year, a key part of an overall monster night for the league that also saw wins in the Sports Event and Executive of the Year categories. Coming off a work stoppage in to begin 2012-13 season, the league returned to play early last year barely missing a beat with near-capacity crowds, strong TV ratings, the expansion of its Winter Classic into a seven-game series of outdoor events sponsored by Coors Light, and the signing of a massive new media rights pact in Canada.

Long seen as the distant fourth leg of the Big Four of U.S. professional sports, the NHL buttressed by its media and growing roster of corporate partners now operates with a swagger largely unseen in its long history. “There are so many important building blocks,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “Our partners have been so supportive, ownership has been great, and our players are not only great athletes but great people. We worked really hard coming out of our labor issue in 2004 to create a foundation for growth, and we’re now seeing a lot of fruits of that.”

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