Skating on Ever Thinning Ice, the NHL Goes Green

stanley-cup-reusable-bag photo

Reusable commemorative bags are to replace 30,000 plastic bags at this year's Stanley Cup finals. Photo Credit: National Hockey League

The National Hockey League is launching a new green initiative in cooperation with the National Resources Defense Council, it announced on Thursday. Unlike baseball, which revels in the dog days of summer, hockey has good reason to fight back against global warming. League Commissioner Gary Bettman said:

Our game originated on frozen ponds. Most of our players learned to skate on outdoor rinks. For that magnificent tradition to continue through future generations, we need winter weather -- and, as a league, we are uniquely positioned to promote that message. We are thrilled to be able to work with the Natural Resources Defense Council and to draw upon its vast experience and expertise in greening League events and League and Club operations.
The NRDC will provide a guiding hand for the program, called NHL Green. Early efforts will include making NHL events more sustainable, starting with the league draft at the Los Angeles STAPLES Center in June. The Philips Arena in Atlanta has been retrofitted to meet LEED standards, and the under construction CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh will do even better, achieving LEED gold standards.

NHL players are pitching in, too. Scott Niedermayer, captain of the Anaheim Ducks, recently became the first professional athlete to drive Honda's fuel-cell, zero-emissions FCX Clarity vehicle. In December 2007, the National Hockey League Players' Association started its annual Carbon Neutral Challenge, designed by uber-green scientist David Suzuki.

In January, the league hosted a panel discussion titled "Sustainable Success: A Discussion on Business and the Environment." The panel followed the 2010 Winter Classic, the only NHL game of the season to be played in an outdoor rink, at Boston's Fenway Park. Moderated by David Brooks of the New York Times, the panel included former New York Ranger Mike Richter, who lauded the NHL's efforts:

Sports is a perfect launch pad for starting a conversation about protecting our environment. It's a conversation that needs to be had, over and over again.

Hockey fans interested in helping fight climate change and promoting sustainability can visit the NHL Green website for more information on what the NHL is doing, and for tips to help them go green themselves. And for those of use who hate plastic waste, the NHL is doing another great service: replacing 30,000 plastic bags at the Stanley Cup Finals with reusable, commemorative bags.