John Colllins the NHL's international idea man

The NHL is aggressive when it comes to all aspects of traditional media, as well as the new platforms. They have launched an impressive new website at that produces content that is user friendly and rich with plenty of original video and articles.


John Collins, the NHL's chief operating officer, is one of the most respected sports executives in the business. He was the mastermind behind the Winter Classic and the league's deal with HBO that set up a "Hard Knocks"-type series set to debut in December. "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic" will focus on the two rivals as they get ready to faceoff at Heinz Field on January 1.


I spoke to Collins recently from his New York office about how the NHL might just be the hottest that it has ever been.


You where one of the creators's of the NHL Winter Classic. Did you ever think it would become this successful in such a short time?


Collins:" It has become in only three years a true classic and we are happy this New Year's Day to have the Pens hosting the Caps at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh where we will have another sellout crowd in excess of 70,000 people. There will be tailgating and fans we get to the event early. It will be just as good as the three others. I think that the success of the event is playing the game outdoors. We have done it in Buffalo, Boston and Chicago where the weather has been perfect. We have had snow, the games have been sold out and the players and the fans worldwide have embraced the event better than we could have ever imagined. It is visually outstanding and offers something for both the hardcore and casual fans."


The new version of has lots of new video and editorial content from the league and international information. What was your philosophy in the new site?


  Collins:"We know that we have a truly worldwide audience so we offer more highlights, interviews and video in general than any other major league site.  We offer more video than anyother league developed website because that is what are fans want. The love to see short highlight, long highlight's and complete games no matter where they are in the world and we give it to them. We also have developed a great online store for merchandise. So if a fan in Washington or Moscow wants a Alex Ovechkin jersey they can get it. In short, we offer our fans plenty of content, plus live games and a store full of NHL product. For us it is all about giving the fans no matter where they are easy access our content and our product."


How's the health of the NHL?


Collins:" It has never been better with record TV ratings both in the United States as well as in Canada and continued growth worldwide. Our opening weekend here in North America as well as in Europe could not have been better. We are looking at what we all hope will be a fantastic season."


Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter at Wordmandc


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