NHL Business Notebook: The Capitals’ Innovation, Jennifer Botterill’s Emergence as a Broadcast Star


The Washington Capitals were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round on the ice, but off the ice the Capitals were crowned the NHL’s most innovative team this week by Sports Innovation Lab.

The Capitals were the only NHL team to make Sports Innovation Lab’s annual list of the world’s 25 most innovative teamsregistering at No. 15 after not being ranked in the 2021 report. The list is formed using a formula score that examines revenue diversification, technology activation and organizational agility.

Washington has made headlines over the past year for being at the forefront of some key financial elements that have become increasingly important to the NHL. Monumental Sports, which also owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards, opened the first North American sportsbook in an American arena in 2021. In the fall, the Capitals became the first NHL team to sell sponsorships on their jersey, Caesar’s Sportsbook, which will debut next season. .

Zach Leonsis, president of Media & New Enterprises for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, was a guest on Yahoo Finance on Wednesday and proudly highlighted the Capitals’ gains in sports betting. Those wins, sources say, have always been key points of interest for other NHL teams, who hope to replicate something similar at their respective venues when construction or legislation permits.

The Capitals have also been aggressive in the area of ​​sports broadcasting, launching their own over-the-top streaming network, and although the NHL has made the rules for non-fungible tokens particularly difficult – some teams have completely abandoned their plans to because of the restrictions – the Capitals were one of the teams that managed to sell NFTs.

“The culmination of a lot of these key investments certainly helped us with this list,” Leonsis said.

The international list was dominated by European football clubs, with Barcelona and Real Madrid taking the top two spots. It should be noted that the Philadelphia 76ers were ranked fifth on the list; the 76ers are owned and operated by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which also owns and operates the New Jersey Devils.

As for North American teams, the NHL was the only league without multiple teams included, the NBA had nine teams on the roster, there were three from MLB and two from the NFL.

Whether you’re reading this article in the United States or Canada, you’ve probably seen Jennifer Botterill’s work on TV during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist is in her second season on the Sportsnet panel and also works as an analyst and studio panelist for Turner Sports in her rookie season handling NHL coverage in the United States. .

Last weekend Botterill was on the air for Sportsnet Friday night in the studio for Game 2 of the Calgary Flames-Edmonton Oilers series, took an early morning flight to Atlanta to join the TNT panel for Game 3 between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado. Avalanche, and was back on Canadian television Sunday for Game 3 of the Battle of Alberta.

It’s busy, three-on-three isn’t even allowed for NHL players anymore, and Botterill caught up on his sleep in the air to help stay alert on the air.

“I generally like to do work on the plane,” Botterill said. “But that’s not the case right now.”

For Botterill, a second broadcast hockey career began after playing her last game for Team Canada in 2010, coming away with an Olympic gold medal in the process, and she was approached to become an analyst for the World Championships. feminine. It was a natural fit and combined with keynote speaker roles, she quickly became comfortable with a microphone and the lessons of her playing career translated well, especially when it came to preparation.

When former players step into the broadcast booth, the biggest indicator of success is how seriously they take the preparation and the work done behind the scenes. As a viewer, you can tell those who came prepared make it a more enjoyable viewing experience, and those who don’t tend to have short broadcasting careers.

It’s something Botterill noticed early on and she approaches show prep the same way she approached training when she was performing; you can’t prepare too much, the finer details matter.

“I think I was always aware that would be part of the role. But I think I definitely needed to learn and adjust the best way to prepare,” Botterill said. feel like it’s a combination of many different factors that I’ve found that go into the most helpful and thorough preparation. But when I think about how I’ve approached a lot of my life, I think I’ve always wanted to describe it as this approach of wanting to pursue excellence.

When it comes to working for two different networks and two different audiences, Botterill said his preparation doesn’t change much. In fact, there are nuances she was able to take from Sportsnet and apply to her time at Turner and vice versa.

With Sportsnet, there’s more of a captive, established audience for the sport — that’s Canada — with Turner this season has been trying to attract a more laid-back audience to the sport, which the NHL says , did pretty well with strong cable ratings for TNT and TBS throughout the playoffs.

When it comes to speaking with Botterill, who is expected to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame for her playing career, it would be remiss not to discuss recent developments around the PWHPA, which recently teamed up with Billie Jean King in her efforts to build a sustainable professional women’s hockey league in North America.

“I think that’s great news,” Botterill said. “If you think about the communication they had over the last few years, it was about doing things the right way. And some people had to do a lot, why hasn’t anything happened yet? And for them, I think they were just working towards something that they thought could be sustainable, right. That’s been a big part of their vocabulary for sustainability… for all of those players, in the PWHPA it wasn’t just about an individual pro contract, it was about having the young people and grassroots level to that these athletes admire and aspire to. And so I think that was just such a big part of their vision.

(Top photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


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