Insight & Analysis

NHL Sustainability Report: Good but incomplete.

By Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global CSR expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and Advisory Service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.

NHL Sustainability Report: Good but incomplete.
It is missing the good works by teams and players. Why?
The NHL’s recently released Sustainability 2014 report http://www.nhl.com/green/report/ was interesting, for what it contained, and for what it didn’t.
For all you readers from around the world, I’m Canadian and love hockey – ice hockey – so you will see occasional topics like this. For my Field Hockey friends – Ice Hockey is Hockey Proper! 🙂
Seriously though, the NHL Sustainability Report is good. It does what it says it will do, discuss the effort and results the league and various teams are achieving as they work to reduce their environmental footprint.
They are clear that is what the report aims to do, Commissioner Bettman’s letter states “The purpose of the 2014 NHL SUSTAINABILITY REPORT is to address our recent efforts and the challenges we face from an environmental perspective.”

The Sustainability Report contained a lot of good efforts and good information. But, there was a lot of good work and valuable impact that wasn’t included. I’m not sure why they didn’t include the great work that players, teams and even the league are doing to support people, communities and important social causes. I think it should have been, especially when they went so far as to mention players on the contents.
But, I’ve seen other major players and great communicators make similar mistakes that ended up leaving a lot of value on the table for good works that they are already doing.
NHL teams support and sponsor all kinds of outreach and support in the community, touching hundreds of worthwhile charities and efforts and raising many millions of dollars for them.
They also spend time and money supporting and engaging with minor hockey. And, each team has many other things that they do to help make the community a better place.
Sure, this is all part of their marketing but so what. The best and most sustainable CSR happens when there is an alignment between community interests and business interests.
Nearly all players also give back to the community in some way, with some of them making major efforts. They are supporting a range of projects and causes and having real positive impacts on programs, people and communities.
Many players reach far beyond hockey and use their profile and personal wealth to help make a difference in the world.
Some players take their efforts international. And, I suspect if there was some organized support you would find more players making efforts to support people and projects in remote areas and emerging economies.
I live on Southern Vancouver Island in Canada, home to some great players and our local boys truly do us proud with the work they do in the off-season to support local causes and help local kids. They set a great example for my son and the thousands of other young players who see these NHL players coming home and giving back.

Ryan O’Byrne’s camp, which has many local NHL players donating time and helping out, has helped over 200 Greater Victoria, BC to get into sport.



Nashville Predators’ Mike Fisher, Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators and Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks helped World Vision to create awareness on the food crisis int eh Sahel  http://youtu.be/ewT_TLjSuVg 


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There are other examples of players working with development organizations, or sometimes even on their own, to help address international development issues. 

I believe there could be a lot more if more was done to support and encourage it (and to communicate it in reports like the NHL Sustainability Report).

All of that good work is happening every day. By the teams and the players. I don’t understand why that was left out of the NHL’s Sustainability Report. The league, the players, the teams and owners and society itself would have benefited from telling that story.

The 2014 NHL Sustainability Report tells a great environmental story, about important environmental efforts being made by teams and the league itself.
It could have told a bigger story and shared about the wonderful work the teams and players are doing in society. It would have been valuable for the league, the teams, the players and society.
Strategic application of CSR communications principles could have created more value for all stakeholders, at virtually no cost.
Maybe they had a reason not to mention the social and charitable work of teams and player? If so, I’d love to find out. Because it doesn’t make sense to me that they didn’t.
I’d love to hear from anyone with insight into this.  You can reach me at

wayne@csrtraininginstitute.com