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Volume 21 No. 2
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Forty Under 40

Photo by: NHL IMAGES
The NHL for the 2010-11 season hit a league record of more than $2.9 billion in revenue, with sponsorship growth playing a significant role in hockey’s continued fiscal ascendancy.

David Lehanski, the league’s group vice president for integrated sales, was on the front lines of that bullish corporate story, helping sign six major new deals and four significant renewals during the year and further positioning the league as an in-demand destination for Fortune 500 heavyweights.

Among the new deals were a massive seven-year, $375 million pact with MillerCoors, along with agreements with McDonald’s, Cisco Systems Inc. and Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies brand, among others.

Additionally, Lehanski last year helped create a new Thanksgiving-themed program with Discover in which the league and credit card brand staged a co-branded float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The float showcased a new Thanksgiving Friday featured game, dubbed the “Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown,” and created additional promotion for TV partner NBC, which broadcast both the game and the parade.

“I think we approach our sponsorship business a bit differently than some other groups,” Lehanski said. “It really isn’t about pushing specific inventory or set inventory, but trying to come up with custom programs for all of our partners.”

Age: 38
Title: Group vice president, integrated sales
Organization: NHL
Education: Bowdoin College
Family: Wife, Alison; son, Eddie (2)
Career: Clarion Performance Properties (1996-99); (1999-2001); SFX/Clear Channel (2001-05); NHL (2005-present)
FIRST JOB: Golf bag and cart attendant at Paramus (N.J.) Golf Club
Last vacation: Hilton Head, S.C., with my entire family
what's on your ipod? Something from almost every genre — Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, Lady Gaga, The Killers, Justin Roberts, Michael Jackson, Springsteen, Tchaikovsky
Guilty pleasure: Getting my hair cut (often) and mechanical pencils
Best stress release: Playing with my son, traveling with my wife or goaltending (in a men’s club hockey league)
Pet peeve: When people exhibit a lack of social graciousness or respect. It drives me crazy when I see people throw trash in the street. Also not a big fan of those who use their mobile devices in meetings when it goes beyond a “quick peek.”
Fantasy job: Full-time philanthropist. Otherwise, general manager of an NHL club.
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT: Worrying about my family … or a bad goal I let in.
Business advice: There are two phrases that often influence my behavior in both life and business. When I was young my father often said, “Don’t tell me, show me.” It motivated me then and still does today. The other is: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” which my mom has proved to me time and time again, and boy is it true.