Ryan Berman talks to thought leaders from around the globe in business, sports and entertainment to uncover what it means to be courageous in today's world.
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EP93 Steve Mayer - Senior EVP, Chief Content Officer, NHL

Steve Mayer – Senior EVP & Chief Content Officer at the NHL

Steve Mayer is Senior EVP/Chief Content Officer at the National Hockey League where he’s produced a myriad of memorable events (and content) for the league. Since joining eight years ago, Steve has been on a mission to reinvent the way the NHL creates, with an emphasis on experience and authentic storytelling.

Episode Notes

 In his conversation with host Ryan Berman, Steve touches on how story-making has attributed to the recent growth seen at the NHL, his simpatico relationship with misunderstood Commissioner Gary Bettman and why it’s so darn hard to get NHL players to brand themselves. The two also discuss what makes the NHL special and why their die hard fans are a unique breed in the sport’s world.

Ryan Berman  0:00 

This is a show about facing fear, unlocking courage, and taking action.


Steve Mayer (Female) 0:05

Courage isn't necessarily a daunting thing.


Speaker 3 (Male) 0:07

It's going to give you more purpose, it's going to give you more drive.


Speaker 4 (Male) 0:10

It feels like making a courageous decision is going to get you closer to who you aspire to be.


Ryan Berman 0:14 

It’s knowledge, plus faith, plus action equals courage.


Steve Mayer  0:19 

You're talking about courage. Sometimes you just have to have the courage to go for it and understand it might not work, but if it does, you're there. And you are at the forefront of something brand new.


(Intro Music 0:35-0:39)


Ryan Berman  0:39 

So, I am one of the lucky ones. I will admit that growing up in Potomac, Maryland. My parents were together. My dad was a lawyer. My mom was the one that raised us. We were massive sports fans, but like, at home, my mom was the nurturing one. I'd say, when I was just out of the house, I kid you not, my parents picked up a new hobby. Dad was going to watch the Washington Capitals, and they would go. That was the day I lost my mom, this other woman showed up who would scream at the ice, rocking in the red. She was ferocious. Still to this day, my mom and dad go to the Caps game, and this is the power of the National Hockey League. Now look, we have gone to whatever the Washington football team is now called. We've been to the Bullets Wizards games, but hockey took my mom to a different place. It's so fast, I don't think it's just the fighting, by the way, it's the game, it's the energy. And it brings me joy to see my mom turn into another woman, not just the nurturing home. Now, today we're joined by Steven Mayer, actually, Steve or Steven, what do you want to go with?


 Steve Mayer  1:54



Ryan Berman  1:55

Steve? Okay. I'm glad we're there. Steve Mayer, who is Executive Vice President, Chief Content Officer at the NHL. Steve, gosh, look at the record growth for the league, by the way. The revenue is up. Major increases in national media revenue. As a fan, goals are up. I'm happy about that. How about the expansion teams are crushing it, Seattle’s for real. I know Vegas has been around a little bit now, but Vegas is doing well. Good times. Good time to be in the NHL.


Steve Mayer  2:28

Yeah. Well, first of all, I need to go to a game with your mom.


Ryan Berman  2:34



Steve Mayer  2:35

She sounds awesome. Listen, it's a good time to be at the league. We're really happy with the way we're growing, and I think we know our place. There's the NFL, there's the NBA, Major League Baseball, and then, other sports fall in, we think we're falling-in in the fourth spot. And listen, it depends on who you talk to. Fans are unique, our fans are avid. Our fans are like your mom and dad. Once they find out and find hockey, they're into it. And they'll watch a game or two in the morning, they want to go to the games, they love the sport. And they're also extremely local, I have to admit. A Washington capital fan will rock the red, as you said. And, in Vegas, that local community, which is unbelievable, had never had a sports franchise before, they were in love with the Golden Knights. So, we have this avid, avid fan base that loves the game, but we're growing because we're now on partner broadcast networks that get us exposed to sports fans. We're being promoted. We're doing a lot with corporations and sponsors, and we're doing good things in the community. Our players are good people who are very likable. And, I think, for people who watch our sport, they feel like, “Wow, that's something I’d like to be a part of and see. And I like the speed, I like the goals.” So yeah, it is a good time to be at the NHL.


Ryan Berman  4:23 

I like how you started this, which was; we know who we are, we know where we are. And, when I hear that, I always say I'm fluent in subtext, hear what's not being said. What that tells me is there's clarity.


Steve Mayer  4:38 

I would say, for sure. But yet, we want to be bigger, and grander, and better. And we strive every single day to get more eyeballs on us. Yeah, revenue is, of course, a piece of this, but with success and with popularity comes revenue, and comes that piece of the business. But we know that, hey, listen, we're not going to be the NFL, but we always know we can be better and we can attract more fans. Look at how many buildings are sold out every single night, it's like 89%. And that's a big number in sports, and I don't even think the other sports that I mentioned have that number. So, again, we're filling buildings. We're global. And we’re certainly as North American as any sport because, obviously, we're sitting here in the US where we've mentioned Washington, and you mentioned Seattle, you mentioned Vegas. You haven't even mentioned the teams in Canada where we're the sport in Canada. And so, yeah, listen, it's good times. We got a lot of good young players. We're building around a lot of great pieces that we think are going to be keeping us, in terms of the momentum, growing every single year.


Ryan Berman  6:12 

So, I live in Southern California, I'm in San Diego. And when I think about when the Chargers were here, at least, and I see in the NFL what happens with the Rams and the Chargers now, a lot of times, that's a circled on the calendar game, and 70% of the fans have flown in from Philly for a little sunshine. When you talked about that number being filled up and filled out at home, and it's a local game, is it primarily the home team's filling it up?


Steve Mayer  6:47 

So, yes and no. So, you bring up a really good point. It depends on the where, but we found, in certain of our cities -- Vegas, Nashville, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles -- that quite a few people build a vacation, a weekend around the hockey game. Listen, Vegas, just for an example, you'll go to a game and the Golden Knights have such an incredible fan base, but you're going to hear a pretty loud scream when the opposition scores a goal, and you look around. One of the things about our sport…


Ryan Berman  7:30 

That was probably my mom, by the way.


Steve Mayer  7:33 

Yeah, but you know… Listen, you go to a football game, especially during the winter, people are wearing jackets. When you get into the arena, yeah, it's cold, but even if it's in the summer, or it's the winter, it's still the same temperature and everybody's wearing a hockey sweater, or a hockey jersey. And you look around quickly and you know how many are in the building cheering for the home team and how many for the away team, and I think that's a really cool piece of fandom. As a sports fan myself, I love when I could travel to another city and go to the game. There are certain places that are a little more dangerous doing that than others, as you know.


Ryan Berman  8:14

(Laughs) Yep.


Steve Mayer  2:16 

But, I do think there's quite a few people that travel in. And listen, the way tickets are handled now, there's tickets always available on secondary markets. And part of the reason we are filling the buildings is because there is a significant amount of fans that come to watch our games from other places.


Ryan Berman  8:37 

My schedule is bonkers. And I can acknowledge just by how long it took us to connect that your schedule is bonkers. And so, one; obviously, I appreciate you finding some time for me here, but two; can you sort of enlighten the listener, what does it mean for us to be an EVP slash Chief Content Officer? What's the schedule look like, and what comes with the territory for you?


Steve Mayer  9:05 

Yeah, so I’d be happy to. My job in content, as you know, it can be defined in a million different ways. And, believe it or not, at the NHL, Chief Content Officer means a lot of different things. When I came to the NHL uniquely, I was at IMG for 20 years. I came in to run a couple of huge projects that were coming up. The centennial, it was the 100th year of the NHL in 2017, which is also kind of hard and unbelievable to believe. And World Cup of Hockey, which was reintroduced, which was a very popular series internationally, we reintroduced that in 2016. So, those were my two big assignments coming in. And I walked in after having run a production company, a television production company, essentially, at IMG, and that was going to be part of my job. And I realized, “Wow, the league doesn't produce a lot of content. In fact, very little.” It was outsourcing a majority of the content, and I see you shaking your head, and you're writing, crazy to believe that that actually could happen at a major league level. And, believe it or not, to make it even crazier, most of the content was outsourced to Major League Baseball. So, Major League Baseball band productions. Band Tech -- at the time, it was called -- was literally producing the content for the NHL. And I happen to walk in the door, I've got fresh eyes, I don't really know what's going on yet. I'm from a production world, and thinking that I am brought into produce content, and I'm like, “We've got five people here to produce, we need to build that piece of the NHL, we need to grow it.” So, that was probably the first addition to the day job.


Ryan Berman  11:14 

Can I ask you a question on that?


Steve Mayer  11:15

Of course, of course.


Ryan Berman  11:18

When you kind of think… So you’re there, you're seven years now. Which, by the way, when you tell the story, you would make it seem like it was 20 years ago that [Inaudible 11:29] building content. But, do you feel like, you're like, “Oh, shit, how lucky am I, I stumbled into this. Why aren't we doing more of this? Yeah, I guess I could do it, and why didn't anybody say it before?” Or, do you think it was like, “Okay, we're finally ready. The building blocks are set, it's time for us to build our own content.”


Steve Mayer  11:49 

Well, there was a financial arrangement, which was quite attractive for the NHL to work with Band Tech. And I think that there wasn't someone like me whose life had revolved around producing content. And so, I just think I came in, and part of my observation was like, “We should be controlling the message, we should be producing. And we could grow our audience by putting out more and more content.” There was also an interest to whatever was put out would be monetized. And, for your audience, that means finding a sponsor to pay for, essentially, going out and producing that content. And my philosophy was, “No, as part of our obligation to our fans, we should be informing fans on a daily basis about our games, our players, what we're doing around the game,” but there's so much to talk about. So, I will tell you, I work for the greatest person that I've ever worked for and with, and that's Gary Bettman. This guy understands, gets it, and is always there as a partner to structure and say, “You're right, and what do you think we need in order to make this better?” And so, we started building the production facility, personnel, and our ability to get content out. And that was pretty immediate. And we started growing in that world. And we proved that, if we can build it, we’ll pop out as much as we can to the point where, I can't even tell you, Ryan, how much we've increased from the day I walked in the door. And I'm not going and patting myself on the back, it just was a necessary piece of what we should be doing. And it's a way, especially these days, to grow your audience. There's so many social platforms. There’s so many people that are on their phone every single day. They can't get enough, and how do you get in front of them? It's many times through content. So, that was one piece. And then, a few months later, I had a lot of experience also at IMG producing events. And, a few months later, the gentleman who was running events, amazing at what he did. He was great, and somebody who I've worked with very closely when I was at IMG. And then, when I was at the NHL, he got another job. And the commissioner came to me one day, and said, “Hey, why don't you just run the events team? You should run that. Content is really through events. And, let's get creative, let's start to do different things. Let's build up the event business.” And so, I took that on. And then, offshoots of that, we then took the event business and we separated it into different departments. So, we've got a hotel and hospitality department. We've got a ticketing department now. We have an entertainment department that just solely deals with music and celebrity. All of these little pieces we've now added. And we're a lean mean fighting machine, but we're really good at what we do and we’ve brought in a lot of amazing people from different walks of life, from different sports, from different worlds. And, we're rockin' and rollin' right now, but we're super busy, to start off with what you said. It's crazy because we're doing so much of it ourselves, when we used to outsource so much of it to others.


Ryan Berman  15:39 

From a calendar standpoint, give me the next… Merry Christmas, by the way. Give me the next three weeks of your life.


Steve Mayer  15:48 

So, we've got Board of Governors meetings, which is an event unto itself, which is down in Florida where all of the 32 teams bring their representatives and we have formal meetings. And many of the league's decisions, at least at the highest of levels, are sort of made at that event, which is Monday and Tuesday. And then, most of us head to Boston where we begin prep for the Winter Classic, which is on January 2nd, but part of the Winter Classic are fan fests and New Year's Eve parties, and all these ancillary events around just the game itself. And so, the other thing, it takes time to build ice, and build out the field. And it's a two-and-a-half week process, of which, there's a significant amount of our team that will be there. And then, literally, within days after the Winter Classic, we all sort of head to Florida where the All-Star Game this year is at the end of January, beginning of February. Again, taking over Fort Lauderdale this year with events everywhere, including taking the Fort Lauderdale beach completely to ourselves to have fanfares, and concerts, and all these things. That's the other thing, no event anymore is just a game in an arena. Nothing. There's so much else that goes on, I feel like I'm a concert promoter, half the time. Booking bands, and selling tickets, it's kind of cool. And then, from there, we go almost immediately to Carolina where we're doing another one of our outdoor games in North Carolina States Football Stadium; Carolina against Washington. And that'll take us all the way until the end of February. So, many of us, listen, we have families, we have lives just like everybody else. Merry Christmas, yes. But we're on the road for two months almost straight. But we love what we do, it's awesome. I wouldn't trade it in for anything. And personally, I've been doing it my whole career. I'm used to it. It's what drives me, it’s what gets me excited. But yeah, this next stretch is kind of crazy.


Ryan Berman  18:12 

All right. Let's go rapid-fire here because I want to dance a little bit. I had like 11 questions inside the rant, which is good…


Steve Mayer  18:19 

And then, by the way, the rant, you cut me off at any time because…


Ryan Berman  18:23 

Oh God, no. To me, this is what it's all about. All right, let's start with… We're not going total rapid fire. So, Batman gets a ton of shit. He gets booed everywhere he goes, but like, maybe this is…


Steve Mayer  18:42 

Do you know why? Why does he get booed? That's what I would ask any fan? Like, why are you booing him? I think it's become fashionable, very fashionable…


Ryan Berman  18:53

Just to do it.


Steve Mayer  18:54

To boo every commissioner. And yeah, there were lockouts, but the work that he's done, the money he's made for the league, for the popularity of hockey. Like, oh, my goodness, it's unbelievable. And I appreciate it. I think there are fans that do appreciate it. I know the owners do. Oh, my goodness, they love Gary. And he's extremely forward-thinking. He knows everything that's going on in the NHL. And he gets involved when he needs to, but he also lets people do what they do best. And he really is a wonderful person to work for.


Ryan Berman  19:36 

Well, what I like is that it wasn't like… If I'm wrong, let me know. It wasn't like you know him from 25 years ago, and then, you built up trust. You've been there seven years. I don't think that's, to be honest… Like, 15 years, okay, fine. So, this early, if you had to describe why it works between the two of you, you're going to rattle off three words, just three words that describes why it works. Why does it work?


Steve Mayer  20:07 

Like-minded. Driven. Work ethic. That's four words.


Ryan Berman  20:14 

Oh, you're off. You're cut off, that was four words.


Steve Mayer  20:17 

Work ethic I feel like is one…


Ryan Berman  20:19

Hyphen, we'll give it a hyphen.


Steve Mayer  20:21 

I think that's part of our connection. I also think he likes my world, because there's a lot of pieces of what he does on a daily basis that, I wouldn't want to say aren't fun, but what I do; content, and entertainment and events. It's exciting, it's fun, and he has a very creative mind. Very often, he'll say, “Hey, I should be an executive producer.” And it's true because the way he thinks, he sees things, and I like to say the same for myself. Sometimes, you could be very good at editing or you can be very good at creating. I love creating things. I love the initial thought, but I also like looking at something. And I think I see things that others don't, and he does as well. Like, he'll watch something or he'll hear something, and he’ll think of the thing that you haven't thought about. And that's special, and not everybody can do that.


Ryan Berman  21:34 

Well, just use the Gretzky quote, “Skate to where the puck’s going,” he said that, right? That was Gretzky?


Steve Mayer  21:40

Yeah, that was Gretzky.


Ryan Berman  21:41

Okay. Good. So, look, to use the hockey metaphor, you get to be a winger all day. Your job is to score or set up someone to score. To grow the game, you have to be proactive, you got to rush to the net. That sounds like fun. Sometimes, it's not so fun, the other part of the job where you to protect the NHL. Your goalie, you're a defender, you're just trying to check off some of those things. So, I can see why you get excited about what you get to do every day.


Steve Mayer  22:13 

And, believe me, there are a bunch of people that that's what their job is; to protect the NHL, to make sure that the shield stays shined and pristine. I might disrupt a bit because that's my nature, and I also think in this world that we're living in, you've got to be a little disruptive, you've got to do something that stands out because you get lost very simply. So, we try to promote, at least, in my group, the idea that's out of the box that might gain some attention. But yet, at the same time, he has to, because that's the nature of his job, he has to protect our interest every way. But, at the same time, he also is very willing to listen to an idea that might be a bit out of the box. He'll poke a million holes in it, which I think is unbelievable in his job, but we might come to some conclusion where it might not be the original idea. But if it's a variation of it, it's still better than doing nothing at all.


Ryan Berman  23:24 

You had mentioned earlier, and I appreciated this, like, “Oh, for your audience, here's what a monetizable idea is.” This might seem silly too, but when you think of Chief Content Officer, for me, you're more on one side of the brain than the other, but there's no way that you're not living on both sides of the brain coming after 25 years as an executive producer. So, can you give a definition of what an executive producer is, and then, how that shows up on a day-to-day work?


Steve Mayer  23:54 

So, we produce a significant amount of actual video content, audio content, entertainment content. As an executive producer, you're the one that everything sort of filters through, or it filters down from you. Whether it's a creative idea to start with, whether it's just the beats of whatever we're going to do, it all, literally… The executive producer has the ultimate decision and call. And then, also, it's regarding personnel, like, putting the right team together, which is so important in anything we do. Also, the executive producer will make that determination who's working on this project, that project. The ultimate project manager when it comes to TV, or content, video content, audio content. And then, at the end of the day, somebody who, I think, the staff sort of runs ideas through. And I'm the one that also, ultimately, might be like a Gary Bettman. I might poke holes, or figure out why that idea has… The gem of the idea will work, but if we did this or that, or this or that, how it could be better, and how it might come to life. And it's also my job to bring things to fruition, whether it's internally at the NHL, or externally with our partners at ESPN, or Turner, or Sportsnet, or even another partner, whether it's a sponsor, or somebody outside of our world who we think it would be awesome to partner with.


Ryan Berman  25:47 

I'm curious how creative your job is, versus, how operations-focused your job is.


Steve Mayer  25:54 

So, I'm known… Like, for me, I'm the creative guy. I'm operational in some instances, but I also really lean on people on the operational side because I know enough to be dangerous, but I really respect the people that can execute the vision. And we say that a lot, like, if you asked other people we work with what their job is, they might actually say, “I'm here to take Steve's crazy ideas and bring them to life.” And, I'm telling you, if you took 10 people on my staff of over 100 people, I bet you nine out of 10 would say, “I take Steve's crazy shit, and I'm making come to life.” And that's cool. I'm an idea guy, I always have been and I love that part of what I do, I love it. And I challenge myself personally to just keep on trying to make everything we've done a little better, and come up with new ideas. And I've also surrounded myself with the best of the best who can take some of this stuff that comes out of this crazy brain and somehow makes some sense out of it. And that's cool. We have a really great team that executes a lot.


Ryan Berman  27:34 

Well, my head’s nodding left and right, that’s how I tell I feel. The energy… And it almost sounds selfish, you're good at it, but the energy I get from coming up with new ideas, it’s for the greater good of a partner, or a brand. There's nothing like it. I always say I get to do a crossword puzzle every day, but the answers don't come out the next day. So, I'm screwed if I don't figure it out. There's so much joy in that. And so, I love that you said, like, “How do I take Steve's crazy idea and make it real and attainable?”


Steve Mayer  28:09 

But, isn’t it a great feeling when you have an idea, and it's up here, and you noodle it, you think about it, it comes out however it comes out, but somehow, down the line, you actually see it executed? I just think that's the coolest part of what we all do. Whether you're working at Starbucks, or you're working at the NHL, it doesn't matter. If something that you've come up with actually happens, it's really satisfying. And I think it drives me, I would think it drives you.


Ryan Berman  28:47 

Oh, no doubt. The logline of the company, pull the Ryan Berman string, is courageous ideas are the only ones that matter. And you said it yourself, everyone has access now. Too much access, maybe. It's a TV in your pocket, or whatever you want to call this thing where you watch content. So, if you're not disrupting, if you're not being a little zag to everyone else's zig, you're pretty much in trouble. Now, here's an idea for you. So, you talked about seven years of the business -- I'm not giving you an actual idea, by the way, this is a [Inaudible 29:19]


Steve Mayer  29:29

Please. By the way, I’m open for ideas.


Ryan Berman  29:23

Okay, cool.


Steve Mayer  29:24

Always open. That’s the next time we're on together.


Ryan Berman  29:26

Might not be in the second hour. So, let's talk about seven years from now, because you think about…  I always say courage is a journey word. You need courage in the messy middle. The destination is something relevant, something meaningful. So now, let's say we're back at the beginning, and you've seen how much change has happened over seven years. Seven years from now, tell me about the NHL. If you get to play a little bit, what does it look like?


Steve Mayer  29:57 

So, I think about it a lot, and I think about it a lot because I'm getting older. I don't think I would think about it as much if it was 10 years ago, or 15 years ago because I was just on this path, it was all great, I was young. Now, you get a little older, so you start thinking about, “Okay, what is seven years from now?” I think, first, for me, personally, I like where I am, so I don't see that changing. So, the whole idea for us is to continue to grow, and to continue to build this league and do things that we haven't done. I think, with technology continually changing, that’s where I think all sports are going to change dramatically in the next seven years. You're starting to see it with people, again, streaming platforms, and the way we're consuming our games and our sports, it's changing by the day. I think, seven years from now, watching it on television, I don't know if that's going to be the primary way to watch sports. I do think live sports; nothing like it, can't beat it, appointment viewing. So, that always is part of it, and it’s very social. It's very social. But I do think the ability to watch more on your computer and the phone. So, that's one way. Listen, what I always joke about with my younger people too is, is 25 years ago, the foundation of what we're still doing today was what we did 25 years ago. It was about storytelling, it was about how do you change and tweak sports so that they're much more entertaining, more interesting. So, to evolve in that way is what we strive to do every single day. So, foundationally, we will be the same, but I just think the way we consume some of what we're foundationally doing will be very different.


Ryan Berman  32:18 

Yeah, the vessels will be different. And I think there's a lot to learn. This is why I love taking from other industries. Originality sometimes it's like, “Hey, they're doing this in music.” To me, when Bruce Springsteen decides to go on Broadway, and go less, but the price point is absurd, and we're all paying for it. It tells you that there's a delta on live and intimacy. And when you say, by the way, it's not going to be a TV, I know you guys have done a ton of stuff on AR, and I know VR. That's going to be really interesting to see. Here's an idea, maybe. Can we do together the first fully VR Arena in game? Meaning… Now, this sucks for the players. I'm sorry for the players, because I'm sure that the energy, they're going to feed off the fans, but could we sell out a whole VR stadium and play in front of just people that are… “You want to watch this game? You could watch it, we're going to Meta with this one. But you got to watch through Oculus.”


Steve Mayer  33:21 

I think elements of that. I don't know whether we would play an entire game, but having sections in arenas, or having, to your point, events that we do that are… Sure. And there's some technology that we are seeing and we've seen as just spectacular, and really interesting. But I also must admit, I remember seven years ago, walking into Facebook and putting on the... Back then, and then telling me what's the next next big thing, and we're still waiting for it. And is it social? You've heard it all. I think there will be elements of that, and we're heading in those directions, we certainly are, but I think there's also a willingness to try. In each of the genres like Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, everybody's willing to try it. Everybody's afraid to be the first one. That's another thing. You talked about courage, sometimes you just have to have the courage to go for it and understand it might not work, but if it does, you're there and you were at the forefront of something brand new. And we're looking at all these options, we certainly are.


Ryan Berman  34:56 

I've noticed the innovation side of the business, I also noticed the diversity and inclusive side of the business. You got your ‘hockey is for everyone’ program. I just feel like, going back to where we started this conversation a little bit, someone's got to take the red pill or the blue pill and try hockey, because once they try hockey, then, all of a sudden, the corridors of opportunity open up and you get to meet this beautiful game. It's fast, it's hard-hitting, there's action. The players, to me, is very interesting because I'm sure you have the most last syllables of any athletes of anyone because they're from all over everywhere. You got all of Eastern Europe…


 Steve Mayer  35:41

They’re from all over the world. They’re all over.


Ryan Berman  35:43

And does that help or hurt? Because the Greek Freak is still very approachable.


Steve Mayer  35:49 

Listen, I think personality is personality. I think what hurts hockey, to be very open, is the culture. The culture from the time these guys were little boys was, it's all about the team, it's all about the locker room. And, in some ways, that's an incredible world to be living in, like, wow, it teaches you how to... The assist is way more important than the goal. This is what they've learned from the time they were little boys. It's been hard to get them to step away from that, but what we're seeing is this next generation is a little more about the individual about their brand. They have their own Instagram account, or their Twitter account. They post content. They're doing it themselves. And we're finding them stepping out. Listen, I'm with you. Some great athletes, and very personable athletes, whether it's in the NBA, Major League Baseball, have been from other countries. I don't think that's the biggest problem, I think the culture is one where some teams, some people just don't want to upset the locker room. And that has become a little bit of an issue, but it's getting better. I'm telling you, with each new wave of drafts, we get new players who get it, who are into it, and who really do show their personality.


Ryan Berman  37:30 

All right, this is for my mom. So, Ovi is officially under 100 goals away from Gretzky. First of all, how excited is the NHL quietly about this? I'm assuming they are. I think you might catch how in the next two weeks, right?


Steve Mayer  37:50



Ryan Berman  37:52

Is the NHL excited about this?


Steve Mayer  37:54 

Yes. Yes. Listen, it's going to bring so much attention to us. I think we have two US partners that are leaning all in. I think you're going to see around 801 and 802, and that's how many goals, again, for your audience. You’re going to see some incredible coverage, and they're going to break into games, and they're going to really give it the coverage it deserves. And then, the chase is on. Listen, any record is exciting. And we're living in this world where Aaron Judge... Think about these records that have fallen, and it's a big deal when it happens. And I think you're probably asking me the question about where he's from, and I don't know if that's even the case, but he is… What an accomplishment. Wayne Gretzky, if you look at his stats, they're simply incredible. Incredible. Compare them to any other sport, like, what he did was amazing. And I have to admit, I never thought, growing up, like, no one’s breaking Gretzky's goal record, points is another story. But Ovechkin’s within… And he's going to break it. If he stays healthy, which he seems like he's in amazing shape, he’s going to break it. I just think it's awesome. It's going to be a real attention-getter, not only in Washington. It'll be something that everybody in sports will be talking about.


Ryan Berman  39:43 

Yeah. As a guy that's watched him, first of all, I don't see Russian first, I see Ovi. I see CAPS, and I see a captain. I see a passionate leader of men.


Steve Mayer  39:58 

Yeah. Talking about a guy who started to endear himself, not only, again, to CAPS fans, but to hockey fans, and then, to sports fans. His playful celebrate… After they won the cup, if you couldn't enjoy that, and talk about how cool he was, and how much fun… He was awesome. It was amazing. And, listen, I think this is great for us, great for hockey. It's going to be fun to go along for the ride. And part of what we're going to do at the league is promote it any which way we can because I do think it's going to gain a lot of attention.


Ryan Berman  40:42 

It's a great place to actually wrap this up for our first podcast together because, look, that playfulness. When you can escape and get into play, that is the power of great stories. I'm sure every story you're looking to do is… I always say; no feel, no deal. No feel, no deal, man. If you didn't feel when he was doing ovi angels in a two-inch pond, or, water fountain when they won the Stanley Cup, you gotta ask yourself, like, you can't feel at that point.


Steve Mayer  41:16 

And, even that, our guys are real, that's what I love about… They're doing it. They might have an adult beverage in one hand, they might say something a bit salty that comes out of there, but people respond to that. They like that they're real people who are genuinely so emotional to win our championship. I think, more than any other sport, our playoffs are the best. And winning that cup is so meaningful for these guys. Any dollar amount doesn't matter, they play their whole life to win that cup. And I've seen it firsthand, for me, it's the greatest moment every single year to walk on that ice after the cup has been awarded. And to watch that sheer enjoyment, excitement, it's like nothing else. And ovi really was able to show who he is, and I think he became very likable in that moment. And I think it'll be the same in this quest to be the all-time goal scorer.


Ryan Berman  42:37 

All right. So, when you go through DC let me know. And you don't just get my mom, you got my dad too, sorry. Let me know when you're popping through. Thank you so much for your time, Steve. Happy holidays.


Steve Mayer  42:48 

(Laughs) Oh, pleasure. A pleasure. Thanks.


Ryan Berman  42:51 

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the courageous podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don't forget to rate and review us on Apple podcasts so more people can find us. See you again next week.


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