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Mike Richter goes green with NHL panel at Fenway

by Bob Condor
BOSTON -- The NHL's month-long celebration at Fenway Park continued Tuesday night as the League hosted a panel discussion titled "Sustainable Success: A Discussion on Business and the Environment." Former New York Rangers goalie and Stanley Cup winner Mike Richter, now a partner with Environmental Capital Partners in New York, was a notable panelist.

"Sports is a perfect launch pad for starting a conversation about protecting our environment," Richter said during the panel discussion. "It's a conversation that needs to be had, over and over again."

Not surprisingly, Richter was just as awestruck looking at the Fenway Park rink for the first time (there is a college doubleheader scheduled for Friday) as any other fan or NHL player.

"Phenomenal," he said, peering out at the rink and ballpark after lingering a few minutes looking at the multitude of Red Sox historic photos on the walls outside Fenway's EMC Club.

Richter was far from the only big name representing the green community. Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund joined colleagues for the night that included Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, John Sterman, professor and sustainable business researcher at MIT's Sloan School of Management, Kathrin Winkler, Chief Sustainability Officer for EMC Corp. and Richter. New York Times columnist and self-described hockey dad David Brooks moderated the discussion, which covered the growing green movement in sports and the bottom-line aspects of eco-friendly measures available to corporations and businesses.

Hershkowitz noted that sports teams and leagues are making planet-friendly changes. Some examples include composting bins available at the 2009 World Series, public-service announcements for recycling played at ballparks and basketball arenas, plus 2.4 million napkins at this past summer's U.S. Open tennis tournament that were made from 90 percent recycled paper rather than virgin paper.

Brooks was skilled at including all panelists in the discussion, and later admitted he was more thrilled to meet Richter than President Obama. One reason: Brooks sat in the blue seats (the upper level) at Madison Square Garden in the late 1960s and said he is particularly fond of the former goalie for helping the Rangers win their only Stanley Cup during Brooks' years as a Blueshirts' fan.

Brooks started the night by saying he was born in Toronto and had two dreams as a child: One, to play in Fenway Park and, two, to become a NHL player. He joked that Tuesday night was the closest he would come to either dream.

Every panelist was charmed by the sight of a hockey rink in FenwayPark, clearing taking time to consider the view and swap a few stories about media coverage of the Bruins' 2-1 overtime victory over Philadelphia last Friday.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the League's Chief Operating Officer, John Collins, made special appearances at the green-initiative event.

"As part of a multitude of events associated with the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, we are hoping this event helps to raise consciousness about the stewardship we all need to have about our planet and climate," Bettman said. "After all, we need winter weather to play this game every year.

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