In The Crease: Miscellaneous musings
“The relationships, the friendships you make, years and years of folks that have stayed within the industry, stayed in the sport. So many of the front offices have not changed. It makes it a tremendous family, and it’s fun to go to the rink and see people and catch up. … I wear my Stanley Cup ring just about every day. I’m so proud to be part of it.”
Interim President & CEO, Central Florida Sports Commission
“When I was growing up in Southern California, there weren’t many rinks around. I have great memories of going to see Marcel Dionne and the ‘Triple Crown’ line at the Forum, but it was still a fringe sport. People went, but it was more transplanted Rangers fans than Kings fans. Now, the NHL is a North American success story.”
Partner, Inner Circle Sports
“One trademark characteristic that the NHL has shown consistently over the years has been openness to innovation and experimentation. Among the major leagues, it’s been a leader in that respect — being bold and willing to take chances and try different things. It deserves tremendous credit for that. The glowing hockey puck was one of them.”
Special Counsel, Genius Sports
In 1934, the Ace Bailey benefit game, a precursor to the All-Star Game, was played at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. The event was organized to raise funds for Toronto’s Bailey, whose career ended two months earlier following a flagrant foul that caused him to hit his head on the ice so hard that a priest in attendance gave him last rites. Thirteen years later, in 1947, Maple Leaf Gardens hosted the first official NHL All-Star Game.
“Slap Shot,” named the “Best Guy Movie of All Time” by Maxim magazine in 1998, was released in 1977. The film stars Paul Newman and depicts the Johnstown Jets, a central Pennsylvania minor league hockey team that is about to fold. The hockey scenes are filmed at Cambria County (Pa.) War Memorial Arena, Utica (N.Y.) Memorial Auditorium and Onondaga County (N.Y.) War Memorial Auditorium, all of which are still home to NHL developmental teams.
“The energy and excitement of a hockey game that Bruce McNall would put on at the Forum was wild. President Reagan would show up for games the year that they went to the Stanley Cup in ’92-93. I got to meet the president of the United States at a hockey game in L.A. It was tremendous in that era. You had Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. Magic Johnson would show up at games. You would really have a collection that you wouldn’t have seen outside of the Great Western Forum.”
Managing Partner, American Group Management
“You’ve got these incredible athletes that are doing things that athletes from other sports do, and they’re doing them on a steel knife. That is such a key element of the game. Obviously, there’s a level of contact and aggression, yet at the same time it’s speed and poetry and finesse. In a lot of ways, to me, it’s got contradictory elements, all of which come together to make it a great sport.”
Executive Vice President, WME-IMG
In 1972, Chicago Blackhawks left-winger Bobby Hull, frustrated about the NHL’s reserve clause that severely restricted a player’s ability to negotiate contract terms, defected to the World Hockey Association when the Winnipeg Jets offered him a 10-year, $1.75 million contract, with a $1 million signing bonus. The NHL pursued legal action, but a Philadelphia district court found the reserve clause illegal, and more than 60 NHL players subsequently bolted for the new league.
“To reference a very successful Budweiser campaign, I really do think it’s the ‘Coolest Game on Earth.’ The magic of the Stanley Cup playoffs and what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, and what these athletes have to do to perform at the level that they perform, makes it one of the more spectacular sporting properties that there is.”
Executive Vice President and Principal, Bruin Sports Capital
“I compare Edmonton and the Oilers to Green Bay and the Packers. In Edmonton, the team and the Oilers are such a huge part of the city’s identity. I’ve never experienced it in any of the other cities I’ve visited and lived in. I’ve never seen that unique sense of how the team is such a central part of the city’s identity. It’s very unique.”
Senior Brand Manager, EA Sports
“There’s a certain etiquette in hockey, an unwritten code of the game that’s taught early on and holds true from youth leagues to the NHL. If you do this, you can expect this consequence and accountability. It transfers to the business in how you treat co-workers, how you treat clients and employees. If you don’t, there’s consequences. It might not be the 6-5, 250[-pound] guy coming off the bench to make sure you understand what that code is, but you still appreciate it.”
President, Bespoke Sports & Entertainment
“After Joe Namath made his guarantee in 1969, I went through years of New York athletes guaranteeing things. So, when Mark Messier made the guarantee that the Rangers would win that Game 7 against the Devils in ’94, and we ultimately wound up winning the Cup, that was one of the greater moments of my life.”
Managing Director, DKC
The NHL was the only real major option growing up in Toronto. We had the Blue Jays, we had the Argonauts, but from a passion standpoint, it was everything for me. I would mark down Saturday night watching hockey with my dad and my family, and Wednesday nights seemed to be ‘Hockey Night in Canada.’ So it was a big part of what you watch in Canada, what you aspire to be, what you play as a youth participant in sports.”
President, Impression Sports & Entertainment