Hearing news of John Collins' departure as NHL chief operating officer may not raise the eyebrow of every casual fan prepping a backyard rink. But it should. Especially since Collins, the league's third in command, is the brain behind the Winter Classic.
Collins, who turns 54 this week, has been with the NHL since 2006. He took over as COO in 2008. He was the driving force for only the Winter Classic, but also the wildly successful HBO 24/7 series, which he shepherded along with producer Ross Greenburg. Collins is largely responsible for the Stadium Series and the league's national television deals in Canada and the U.S. The league has grown significantly in popularity under his' guidance.
"John leaves a lasting mark," commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com. "His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our league. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors."
Added Collins to NHL.com: "I'm grateful to commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be. The NHL's future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League's successes to come on the global stage."
Collins, who worked in the NFL before the NHL, is leaving to pursue another business opportunity. His departure is effective Dec. 4, per Sportsnet's John Shannon.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin