Q: On your radio show today, you announced a major new initiative for the National Hockey League. Can you tell us what NHL Green is?
A: Although just about every one of our 30 Clubs and many of our 700 players are active in the pursuit of more sustainable business practices and environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices, NHL Green for the first time coordinates and focuses those efforts under the League shield.
Our Mission Statement: The National Hockey League is committed to reuse, recycle and reduce our ecological impact; to pursuing sustainable business practices; to engaging our fans and raising awareness of environmental issues; and to encouraging our fans, partners and vendors to respect our environment and embrace sustainable practices whenever possible.
Q:The NHL also has enlisted the help and guidance of one of the foremost organizations in the world devoted to protecting the environment.
We're very excited to announce an association with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has pledged to provide the NHL with its vast experience and expertise in greening League and Club operations and major sporting events. This relationship will start off in a big way with the NRDC helping us make the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles in June a greener event.
Q: What other specific dimensions are there to NHL Green?
At the same time as I announced the initiative on NHL Hour, we launched an NHL Green microsite on NHL.com. By clicking on a button on the NHL.com home page, NHL fans will be transported to a space devoted entirely to NHL Green -- including stories about League, Club and Player activities; video from related events; tips from the NRDC; and links to the NRDC's website.
We're also delighted to announce that we are replacing 30,000 plastic bags with commemorative Stanley Cup Final reusable shopping bags in both Final arenas and in the NHL Store Powered By Reebok in New York.
At least as important, though it is taking place behind the scenes, is that we've received complete cooperation from all of our Clubs. All 30 have designated Sustainability Representatives, who will head up their teams' respective efforts while serving as the liaisons to our Green Team at the League level.
We're also committing to regularly-scheduled, League-wide measurement of energy and water use and recycling so that we can monitor what we're doing well, what we aren't and whether we're making progress.
Q: The NHL's green thrust really came into public view with a high-profile panel discussion at Boston's Fenway Park in January during the month-long 2010 Winter Classic celebration. Was that the starting point?
That evening was a great success both in terms of accelerating our efforts and in providing us with so much information and insight from the likes of our moderator, David Brooks of the New York Times, and renowned panelists such as NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz, Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp, MIT Sloan School of Management professor John Sterman, EMC Corporation Chief Sustainability Officer Kathrin Winkler and, of course, our own Mike Richter
, who isn't only the former Rangers goaltender, but also a partner in Environmental Capital Partners, a firm that invests in green companies.
However, one of the reasons I'm so encouraged about NHL Green is that, even before that event at Fenway Park, so many of our Clubs and Players already were extremely active in the sustainability field. So NHL Green doesn't have to be as much about convincing people to join the effort as coordinating and amplifying the considerable work that already is being done and then ensuring that we all keep moving forward.
Q: But what is the connection? All professional sports leagues require a great deal of energy and water to stage their games. How do the NHL and Sustainability go together? And what role can the NHL play to promote environmentally-conscious behavior?
Nobody is suggesting that businesses simply shut down nor that all human activity that burns energy or uses water cease. Rather, the thrust should be that we all try to live our lives and conduct our businesses in as efficient and environmentally-friendly a way as possible.
And the NHL is profoundly affected by environmental issues and uniquely suited to promote this message. After all, our game was born on frozen ponds. Most of our players took their first strides on skates on outdoor rinks. If we are to continue to stage events like the Winter Classic, we need winter weather.
All that said, one of the greatest assets our league possesses is a high-profile platform. Through NHL Network, NHL.com and NHL Radio and simply by the examples set by our Players and Clubs, we can impress upon our millions of fans just how important an issue this is.
Q: Finally, this initiative is more than just good business and the right thing from a League perspective. It's personally important to you. Why is that?
As a parent, as a grandparent, as someone who loves this game, who loves to ski, what we do to this planet is important to us and to future generations. And we all have a responsibility to leave this place in good shape.