Green is not just for the Monster
The Winter Classic's closing event explored the "Greening" of hockey.
Wednesday, 01.6.2010 / 3:35 PM ET / 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic
By Samantha Wood - BostonBruins.com
The event, which marked the conclusion of the 2010 Winter Classic festivities, was moderated by New York Times columnist David Brooks and included United States Hockey Hall of Famer and former New York Rangers and Team USA goalie Mike Richter, the panel discussed the challenges businesses face today as they fulfill their environmental responsibilities.
Commissioner Gary Bettman, who characterized this year's Winter Classic as "a tough act to follow" made a special appearance on behalf of the NHL, stressed the importance of getting involved.
“We, as a league, are very concerned about environmental factors in the world today,” said Bettman. “We worry about the ice melting more than any other sport and we need winter weather for things like the Winter Classic.
“We also thought that using this event, which got so much attention, as…our way of leaving a legacy behind.”
The panel agreed that members of the sports and entertainment industries have a responsibility to lead the way in helping to change the country’s environmentally destructive habits.
Richter acknowledged athletes’ connection to the planet’s health.
“Very few athletes make that connection,” he said. “The water you drink, the air you breathe…I think it’s a perfect launch pad to start dealing with some of these environmental issues.”
After retiring from hockey and earning a degree at Yale, Richter joined Environmental Capital Partners, an investment firm that deals with the economic growth in the environmental sector.
“The Winter Classic -- it’s a great metaphor. We are changing the weather and we are changing the environment and we need to do something about it,” said Richter in reference to the NHL's ice making capabilities. “Sports is a fantastic place to start to get that information out, and that conversation like we had here tonight needs to be had.”
The panel also emphasized the appropriate setting with the backdrop of the ice in Fenway Park. With its solar panels and unprecedented recycling program, Fenway is already one of the greenest baseball stadiums in the country.
Bettman hopes to extend this type of success to the teams in the NHL.
“We were the first sports league to do away with printing the annual guides, doing it digitally on discs, so we understand that we can have an impact both on what the business our clubs do and as role models,” he said of one of the NHL’s steps to a greener business model.
The panel spoke of sports fans as well, and recognized that while organizations can help create awareness, resolving climate change begins at home.
“I think the most important thing anyone can do is educate themselves as much as possible on these issues,” Richter said. “The world is moving in this direction…business as usual is no longer an option.”