NHL Says Puck You To Climate Change

Hockey SkatesWe’ve all seen those classic film reels of young boys and girls learning to skate on a frozen pond. They slip and slide over the ice, but always with the thrill of winter fun and adventure. For many children this is an introduction to the wonderful world of hockey, or what we in Buffalo refer to as “life.” But pond hockey is at the top of the list of the many pleasures climate change may eliminate, and the National Hockey League is going to do whatever it can to defend this global warming slap shot.

For the first time in professional sports history, the NHL has released a sustainability report with a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and limit fossil-fuel use. For those who don’t realize it, this is a big deal! No other professional sports organization of any kind has issued such an objective, yet again proving hockey is the best sport (sorry, I’m biased).

The report is important because it acknowledges the major impacts global warming will have on sports, particularly hockey. Not only will the classic days of outdoor ice skating be gone, but the many outdoor NHL events will cease to exist in the near future if something isn’t done. Former Rangers Goalie Mike Richter writes in the report, “To this day, hockey fans of all ages cherish the tradition of the outdoor game. The NHL annually honors this pastime in events such as the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Heritage Classic and upcoming NHL Stadium Series. As fans, we must remember that we rely on nature to provide us with such perfect conditions for hockey in its purest form.”

Not surprisingly, the players are fans of the NHL’s power play against climate change recalling their memories of outdoor hockey:

Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith said, “Being outdoors, it goes back to my childhood. It’s where I learned to play. There’s no pressure, nobody watching and you’re just out there having fun with your friends.”

New York Islander John Tavares recounted, “Ramsey Lake, up in Sudbury, Ontario, where my family’s from, being a little kid my dad used to bring me out there. Minor hockey too… we used to play once a week outside on just a local outdoor rink. It wasn’t so much practice, we would just go out there and play shinny and have fun and just enjoy playing the game. We played a lot outside.”

What are they going to do?

The Huffington Post writes, “No league has ever produced an environmental report, and this one is thoughtfully crafted, honest about its limits, and emphatic about the urgent need to protect our planet. And no league has ever been so frank about the risks to its very existence posed by climate change.” The NHL’s sustainability report reveals years of collecting data, measuring emissions, and studying ways to limit pollution and use greener technology. All 30 NHL arenas were examined and are now taking different steps to become more environmentally friendly.

The Anaheim Ducks are switching to an on-site oxide fuel cell that will utilize biogas to produce 51 percent of the arena’s annual energy. The Toronto Maple Leafs use deep-lake water cooling system in which chilled water from the bottom of a lake is used to cool the building, minimizing air-conditioning compressors. The Arizona Coyotes participate in demand response where they scale back on electricity use to lift their load off the electric grid during emergencies.  Most notably, two new arenas for the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers are set to meet the LEED Silver certification.

The sustainability report clearly shows an understanding of how impactful climate change will be to hockey, and how immediate changes need to be made in order to preserve the sport. The report states, “We address head-on the connection between hockey and the environment, and the impact we have on our planet. It is in our best interest to confront this challenge, to be transparent with our impacts and to discuss and explore with all of our stakeholders a strategy for long-term environmental sustainability.”

Now let’s just hope other sports organizations hop on the Zamboni and start going green. Without serious changes, there will soon be a day when it’s too hot to go to a football game, or there’s not enough water to maintain a baseball outfield. For now though, we can thank the NHL for protecting the environment and making sure we can all enjoy the greatest sport there is!

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