NEW YORK: The National Hockey League has hired Fleishman-Hillard to provide media training for its 30 teams.
"We felt that, coming off a lost season, it was important to have media training for the clubs and players," said Bernadette Mansur, NHL group VP of communications. "And we had to do it in a fairly short time, so we needed a team of [media] trainers."
Mansur said the league chose Fleishman both for its media relations skills and the relationship the league and sport has with Jim Woodcock, the former SVP of marketing and communications for the St. Louis Blues who joined Fleishman as SVP in August.
Fleishman and the league began working together three weeks ago, after the league consulted with the NHL Players Association.
Mansur said the media training revolves around the league's marketing campaign, which has featured vignettes of individual players and showcased rule changes intended to make the game more exciting. The league also wants players to interact more with the media.
Tampa Tribune reporter Erik Erlendsson already noted the difference, telling The Salt Lake Tribune that when he apologized after asking a player for a rare pre-game interview, the player responded, "This is the new NHL. If they want me to talk to you in the morning, I am going to talk to you in the morning."
Mansur said the project is ongoing until Fleishman meets with all the NHL member clubs. She estimated that Fleishman had met with about 10 teams, and she hopes all team meetings will be finished by January. Billings are undisclosed.
Mansur said the teams have been receptive to the media training and happy to be working with someone with Woodcock's hockey experience.
"The teams were very eager to schedule as early as they could," Mansur said. "Jim brought a lot of credibility."