32 Thoughts: The Podcast

Shutting Down The Las Vegas Strip

Episode Summary

Steve Mayer is the Chief Content Officer at the NHL. He joins Jeff and Elliotte to discuss All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, how they are using the Bellagio Fountain and why they are shutting down the strip, and what it will take to get backwards skating into the skills competition.

Episode Notes

Steve Mayer is the Chief Content Officer at the NHL. He’s responsible for organizing all the big league events including outdoor games, the draft and All-Star weekend.

Steve joins Jeff and Elliotte to talk about some of the challenges with organizing an event in Las Vegas, how they are using the Bellagio Fountain and why they are shutting down the strip, adding ball hockey to the festivities, future outdoor games (including Florida), and what it will take to get backwards skating into the skills competition.

Full transcript for the episode can be found here by Medha Monjaury

This podcast is produced and mixed by Amil Delic, and hosted by Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rogers Sports & Media or any affiliates.

Episode Transcription

OPEN //// Steve Mayer [00:00:00] It's bad enough with the two of you, but to hear four of you! 

[00:00:03] [SFX puck hitting post.] 

Jeff Marek [00:00:05] Welcome to a special edition of 32 Thoughts the Podcast as always presented by the all-new GMC AT4 Lineup. On today's show, you'll hear a conversation Elliotte Friedman and I did with Steve Mayer. Now you've heard Steve on the programme before. For the first time, that would have been the Vancouver draft 2019, and then the second time would have been before the bubble in the summer of 2020. Steve was a Senior Executive VP with the NHL. He is the Chief Content Officer of the NHL, and that's a really interesting position. So essentially, Steve is responsible for the entertainment package that goes into a lot of what the NHL refers to as "tentpole events," whether it's the winter classic, the aforementioned NHL draft or, All-Star. The All-Star Weekend is huge for the NHL. It's huge for fans, it's huge for sponsors, and this year it's in Las Vegas, and that brings with it, from Steve's point of view I would imagine, a lot of internal pressures. When you do something in Vegas, you really raised the stakes to put on a show so him and his group are responsible for spicing up the skills competition to say nothing of the game itself. And just so we're all on the same page. All-Star Skills is Friday, February the 4th at 7:30 Eastern. You can watch it on Sportsnet and Sportsnet Now stateside on ESPN. The game itself, Saturday, February the 5th at 3 o'clock Eastern. Watch that on Sportsnet and Sportsnet Now stateside on ABC and ESPN+, everything takes place at T-Mobile Arena. Well, almost everything. As you'll find out, there are some events outside the rink as well. Let's get right to it. Here's Steve Mayer, Senior Executive VP and Chief Content Officer for the NHL, on 32 Thoughts the Podcast. 

[00:02:04] [Intro music.]. 

Jeff Marek [00:02:05] Steve, first of all, thanks for joining us, I know it's a really busy time for you, All-Star Game on the horizon, you're probably thinking, oh, here we go, these two guys are going to lob goofy ideas like Zamboni races at the All-Star Game at me here for a few minutes. We will try to limit the goofy ideas, I'm not promising we'll completely stay away from them Steve, but we'll try to limit them, that is our promise to you. Walk us through your days lately, like leading up to this tentpole event, the All-Star Weekend, what are your days like these days? 

Steve Mayer [00:02:34] I mean I spend half my day getting goofy ideas from people. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:02:39] You came to the right place. 

Steve Mayer [00:02:44] It's super busy right now, but we welcome it, you know, after not doing these events for a few years. It's kind of nice to once again be in that sort of event mode and, we're in the middle of getting ready for All-Star but on the heels of that, we've got Stadium Series in Nashville at the end of the month, we've got the Heritage Classic in Hamilton in mid-March. So this is an exciting period of time, it is so busy. I have to admit there's a lot going on, there's a lot of moving parts, and because we just never, ever, stop, meaning the event is next weekend in Las Vegas, but I'm gonna hear a few goofy ideas today, and if they're good enough and goofy enough, we could put 'em into play next week. We are never, ever satisfied with what we've got, so up until the time we do the event, we're willing to change. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:03:38] Okay, so we got lots to follow up out of that one. First of all, slightly off script. You mentioned the outdoor game, the Heritage Classic in Hamilton. That is supposed to be just before a 100% capacity is allowed indoor in Ontario. Is that game okay? 

Steve Mayer [00:03:57] Yeah. So we've been talking to those that are making big decisions in Ontario, although, and obviously they've come out with the day after 100%. We are confident based on the current environment that we will have that game played with 100%. You know we are awaiting some decisions, but nothing as everybody listening and you guys know better than anybody, nothing these days is 100%. And things can change and we're being extremely patient. We remain incredibly confident. We haven't received the official-official word. But we do believe we will play that game with a 100% capacity on March 30. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:04:45] Good! 

Jeff Marek [00:04:46] You mentioned being able to pivot and at events. I'm curious, what is the biggest obstacle to doing something new at the All-Star Game? Is it a, is it budgetary, is it the players' scepticism about either looking silly or getting injured? Like when you have a new idea for the All-Star Game, what's the biggest hurdle you have to get over? 

Steve Mayer [00:05:08] There's a lot of parties that weigh in, and rightly so. You need a real unanimous vote in order to sort of, move things forward? And again, everybody has their reasons for why this is a good idea or why this is not and so, you gotta go through those processes. You hope that, you know if it happens to be an idea that was generated by my team, you hope it gets through, but you also are willing to understand and listen why something might not get to the finish line. Budget is always a concern, but, you know, we'll talk I'm sure a little about what we're gonna do in Vegas, where the two things that we're gonna do outdoors as part of the skills, we made a decision that, hey, let's do it, let's do it right, let's do it big, and that obviously is an added budget to anything that we've done before. So a good idea... I think we would try everything we can to get it done? And that wouldn't be a factor, budget. But there are factors and there are thoughts along the way that come into play on some of these ideas and you have to sort of respect the opposition if there is one. But we keep coming up, and everybody, with ideas. We always want to make these events better than the last one. And, you know, in this case in Vegas, you know, we do think we have a couple of nice wrinkles that will absolutely stand out and be extremely memorable. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:06:36] Does one of them involve the Bellagio fountain? 

Steve Mayer [00:06:40] That is correct, my good friend. So, so, so we are, you know, it's been widely reported and so I'll tell you guys that we're gonna do two events outside of the arena. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:06:54] Yes. 

Steve Mayer [00:06:55] So I think that's a, that's a nice little twist. One will be on the Bellagio fountains. So you guys will appreciate this so, what we're doing is we're creating a rink, what will look like a rink, on the fountain. So the faceoff circles, the goal, the middle faceoffs, all those will be hard surfaces of which the game, the skill, will be performed, and imagine that the water of the Bellagio fountain is the ice. So when you look from high above, you're gonna think that we built a rink in the Bellagio fountain. Really super cool, we're using the fountains as an element of the game. I don't want to give away too much, but it's gonna be fun. In fact, going around and now talking to players about their essential roles, we're getting a lot of players coming back or management or team management coming back to us going, hey, my guy really wants to do that fountain thing. So I think that's really cool. And the other, we're gonna shut the Strip down. So I don't think it's been ever shut down for sports. We're gonna take the Strip over and we're gonna do an event, which I say, it's hockey accuracy shooting meets blackjack. Take a giant truss of 52 cards. We're gonna roll it out onto the Strip, and when I say a giant truss I mean it. And the players are gonna shoot at this truss, and every time they hit a card, that's their hand, that's their blackjack hand, and to simplify it, closest to 21 wins. So, we're gonna some fun with that, another really cool big personality event because I think there's gonna be a lot of strategy, a lot of talk and a lot of going after each other, but we're really excited about doing something a lot different. We've never done this before, and it's because of Vegas. I mean, Vegas is the best place. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:08:53] Yep. 

Steve Mayer [00:08:53] Kind of break something like this out, to do something that's unique and different. So those are two that we're really looking forward to do. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:09:01] Do the players have to bet with their own money?

Steve Mayer [00:09:05] There is no gambling involved. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:09:07] You know I-- 

Steve Mayer [00:09:11] What they do on the side is up to them. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:09:14] Yeah. 

Steve Mayer [00:09:15] Gambling is not a part of this particular event, but you know listen, we wanted to combine Vegas, and combine hockey, and do it in a really cool way, and it's gonna be really flashy, really showy. And we're gonna have to be really fast and furious in terms of our staff and our operational staff because we are not getting the Strip shut down for days, we're not. So it's gonna be a matter of sort of guerrilla run in there, get it done, move it out and open up the Strip again but, the folks in Vegas have been just incredible to work with. This is an out of the box idea, not that easy to get the permitting and all the things that you need to put an event like this on but, you know, huge kudos to everybody in Vegas for helping us out to get to where we are. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:10:04] You know, I wanted to ask you about that, because it is a very interesting part of this, Steve. How hard is it to get the Strip shut down for an hour? I mean, however long you're using it for. What do you have to go through or what do you have to do to get that approval? 

Steve Mayer [00:10:20] It's not easy. It's not easy. 

Jeff Marek [00:10:23] Hmm. 

Steve Mayer [00:10:24] There's a lot as you can imagine to go through and, you know, from an operational standpoint, and rightly so, those that are involved, especially in the Las Vegas side, the Clark County side, you know, they need every inch of how you're going to do it, how tall things are, how small things are, where are the barricades, what are the lanes, how are you gonna divert traffic, what is your plan, are you working with the police, are you working with all the hotels that are in the surrounding area? I mean, I could go on and on there's a checklist of hundreds of things that you have to do, and that's it's actually interesting that you bring it up because I think on the surface, you know, our fans, our viewers, they see this event, and I don't know if they even care but, to get to where we get to, it's never easy. No matter where we do it, whether it's in the arena or outside the arena, there are so many people that you need to sign off on. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:11:18] Mhm. 

Steve Mayer [00:11:19] Jeff asked me the question about coming up with an idea. You know, you need so many people to be involved, not just, hey, bring the players out, let's shoot some pucks. There are so many factors and you need everybody unanimously to sign off. So in this one, we knew what we were getting into. You know, we got so much incredible cooperation, and guidance. Obviously, the Strip has been shut down before, but, yeah, it's not as simple as just let's do this event and hey, by the way, we'll be there when we're ready to go. No, you have a lot of preparation and a lot of nuances to make things like this work. 

Jeff Marek [00:11:57] I'm curious about the process in all of this. I'm curious about, you know, the thought process, the creativity, how important you think it is to do something different every time you hold the All-Star event. What's the old, the old saying: creativity breaks patterns. You know, if we if we don't think outside, then all of a sudden the same patterns just get repeated over and over again. Walk us through how something goes from an idea to actually, you know, becoming an event or part of the event. Like what are the stages that it goes through like, you know you have an idea, what do you do with it Steve? 

Steve Mayer [00:12:32] You know, we definitely never want to just produce an event. You know, just let's get it done. I never heard that I never, I never wanna hear that. I'll tell you one of the beauties of what we do with the NHL. It starts with where we go and do these events. I think first and foremost, we say, we're in Las Vegas, okay, what can we do in Las Vegas that you can't do somewhere else, or how do you celebrate Las Vegas or what does Las Vegas have? Y'know, in Minnesota, state of hockey, so how do we celebrate the state of hockey, how do we do things that sort of feel different because we're in Minnesota, and then we can bring to life? But, again, and I keep up pointing to an amazing operational team. You know I can come up with every creative idea in the world, but it then needs to be executed and it needs to be executed at the highest level. And again, there's so many pieces to that execution that I don't think people realise. And I'll tell you, sometimes we can't do it. Like there's just something that stands in our way that prohibits us from actually taking it from creative idea all the way to execution. It's something in the middle kind of pushes us aside or waylaid us to not be able to do something but, you know I think we brainstorm constantly, we're always thinking of, here's what we got, is there a little piece that can make it better? To give you an example, we're gonna do a big opening in Las Vegas, and DJ Zedd is gonna be on the ice and perform and there's gonna be... I don't wanna give too much away, but there's gonna be... skating Elvises and rat pack folks and showgirls, we've got a whole to do. We got on a call yesterday and we literally changed so many elements of this opening and, it always evolves, there's always another idea that you either consider to say, let's do it or, nah, but thanks for the idea, and that's the best process. And you guys do this every day. You always are trying to think of other things. I'm sure the goofy ideas are about to come, but we're open, we're wide open to hearing what everybody wants to pitch. Breakaway challenge we're gonna be doing. And that's that event that we did for many years. Vegas was the perfect place to bring it back, everybody agreed. Right now, we're in the process of going to the players that are gonna participate in that. We wanna hear from the players! What are your ideas? But we're working with the players to give them ideas as well. Again, wanting to make that particular moment in skills really outstanding, and Vegas is a cool place to do that so, I hope that answered your question in a very longwinded way but you know, once that idea is on a piece of paper, somehow it's gotta come to life. And that's where some really talented people who understand how to bring it to life come to the party and start working. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:15:38] Give me an example of something that you or your staff wanted to do, and someone finally just said, Steve, what the bleep? We can't do that and you know it. 

Steve Mayer [00:15:53] You know in Vegas where we were looking at places to do these outdoor events, I wanted to hit balls off the Strato--uh, pucks off the Stratosphere. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:16:04] Oh, that's awesome. 

Jeff Marek [00:16:05] That's great. 

Steve Mayer [00:16:06] Now like, something like that. And then somebody was like, how are we going to harness our players? How are we gonna do this? That's way too dangerous. And it is. And there's a couple of ideas even inside the arena, we were talking about this yesterday, there is something that I would like to do, and it's dangerous. It involves players and our players safety group and for all the right reasons are saying, I just don't feel that safe, nor I don't think a player would want to do that. You know, so we're constantly coming up we're at least challenging people to say, you know, why this won't work? We'll ask the right questions. But we also will clearly understand why in their mind, it's a no-go. And we move on! That that was a very fun process, kind of thinking about those outdoor events, because we definitely wanted to do them, and there were a lot of ideas on the table and some were crazier than others. I think we landed almost where we wanted to be right from the very beginning. You know, there were a couple of the Stratosphere ideas that just end up on the cutting room floor just because of how dangerous they were. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:17:20] I think you have to tell people that harnesses are for wusses. Just so, you know-- 

Steve Mayer [00:17:27] I'll tell you in this day and age, being in the harness, Elliotte being in the harness is actually safer, probably sometimes than being on the ground. I mean, I can speak to that, I fell on the ice last year and I broke-- 

Elliotte Friedman [00:17:39] I remember that! You got hurt, yeah! 

Steve Mayer [00:17:42] Yeah but you know, the players' safety and their health know that has been, you know, our theme for a while, and we're not goinna put a player in danger but you know, there are some cool things that you can absolutely do. And, you know, just, it's worth the ask. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:17:58] The other thing I just want to ask you was: Chara. I heard there was a role for him, then I heard he might not be going. Where does that stand with him right now? Because this is a personal thing for me. I'd love to see him there. 

Steve Mayer [00:18:12] You know, unfortunately, he will not be at All-Star. And that decision actually came from him, and we respect that. Obviously, there are the All-Stars that have the pick. We did add Trevor Zegras to the mix, but unfortunately Zdeno will not be in Vegas. 

Jeff Marek [00:18:34] Steve, one of the things that I'm always curious about are the the events around the All-Star Game and All-Star Weekend and one of the things that I'm curious about is, and Andrew Ference as part of this, the ball hockey component to all of this and trying to get as many hockey sticks in people's hands all across North America, not unlike what the NFL is doing with NFL flag, which is a really great idea as well. How much, if--I think it's sort of a soft launch for this programme. How much can you tell us about what Andrew Ference and his group are doing in Vegas? 

Steve Mayer [00:19:07] That group is outstanding, and they have done for the league and to grow hockey everywhere. It's awesome, and this particular programme is, I think, gonna be just amazing. Yeah, Vegas is the soft launch, as you, as you mentioned. We actually are talking again about that and trying to do something a bit significant in Vegas to really gain even more attention, you know, for what Andrew and his team are doing. And so Vegas is another one of these incredible areas and one of the things that we're finding and sort of preparing for the other events. What a hockey hotbed now, you know? 

Jeff Marek [00:19:51] Mhm. 

Steve Mayer [00:19:51] We have done the NHL awards for years and years in Las Vegas with no team there. And the difference between then and now, just to see how the community just eats sleeps breathes hockey, how the kids are so into it, and trying to do events for kids in Vegas is really important for the league. Our stand there, which opens on Thursday, stopwatch there on Wednesday with the kids' event. It's a really important event and we're seeing, because of the way tickets are being sold and how families are buying, that this has become a truly huge sport for kids growing up in Las Vegas and who would have ever thought that? So it's a great place to launch what I think is going to be a significant programme for us, Andrew and his team are doing, doing great things and you know, where this evolves to tournaments in different cities and bring our players into the mix where they can participate and work with kids in these various communities. It's really great because it's a little simpler, as we all know, to play ball hockey than to play ice hockey, and it could be a path to get them out to the ice. 

Jeff Marek [00:21:08] Absolutely. Yes, totally. 

Steve Mayer [00:21:10] I think it's great and, you know, there's some big things planned for the future of ball hockey. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:21:15] Is there anything else All-Star related that you wanted to discuss? 

Steve Mayer [00:21:21] You didn't even ask me about my big music moment! 

Elliotte Friedman [00:21:24] Machine Gun Kelly? 

Jeff Marek [00:21:26] Wow. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:21:27] Is Megan Fox coming? 

Steve Mayer [00:21:28] Megan Fox is coming. Though we're gonna have a pop culture moment at the Vegas All-Star Game. You guys will like this one. Working with his team on the sort of creative and, again, as you know, we've talked a lot about it, this is getting my juices flowing. It's gonna be crazy what he's gonna do. And unlike our last craziness in St. Louis with our Green Day performance with some salty language, this is a little more performance art that I think everybody will quite enjoy. You know, obviously he's one of the hottest in music and pop culture. We're incredibly thrilled that he wants to do this event and he's gonna do it and we're psyched and, yeah, that's that's going to be another cool moment in the All-Star Weekend, for sure. 

Elliotte FrieDman [00:22:23] Are there any other acts that are part of this at all? 

Steve Mayer [00:22:26] No, music, and this is typical of All-Star. When we get closer to Stadium Series and in fact, the Monday after All-Star, we're gonna announce two huge country music headliners and we're gonna have two of them, not one that we are thrilled about and that Stadium Series is going to be a salute to Nashville and country music. And we've got some huge plans in Nashville. We're really excited about that. But this one typically has been about the players and we got the best in the world coming. But there will be some really cool elements. The open is gonna be, I think, something that people will remember and be very unique to Vegas, so we're gonna have some fun! It's gonna be a good weekend. 

Jeff Marek [00:23:13] Confirm or deny: you will be getting a full sleeve tattoo in honour of Machine Gun Kelly during All-Star. 

Steve Mayer [00:23:20] I deny it. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:23:24] Boo! 

Steve Mayer [00:23:25] Now, but I am gonna get my hair spiked. 

Jeff Marek [00:23:28] Oh, very good. Excellent! 

Steve Mayer [00:23:30] I'm gonna go blonde. I'm gonna go blonde. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:23:32] That'll look good. 

Steve Mayer [00:23:32] I think it'll be a little different. It's a different look. Now listen, [unclear] entertainment community and we're gonna have a few NFL players, celebrities, a lot of Vegas celebrities are gonna be joining us. You know, one of the things that we are finding, and I think it's just the general success of the NHL and how we are becoming more and more relevant with a new TV partner in the US, Sportsnet doing an incredible job. I just feel like we're getting those like Machine Gun Kelly who want to be part of our event, and that's great for us. His audience is huge. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:24:10] Yeah. 

Steve Mayer [00:24:10] And if you can get just some of his audience to come and watch our game? We win. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:24:17] One of the things I initially heard was, the Pro Bowl's gonna be there, right? And there was supposed to be some crossover. And unfortunately, because of COVID, some of that gets blocked, right? But when I heard that idea, I was, I was thinking, good on the NHL for trying to think of something like that. I thought it was a really great idea. What kinds of ideas were you, were you talking about with them? 

Steve Mayer [00:24:40] There will be some integrations. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:24:42] Oh, good, okay. 

Steve Mayer [00:24:44] I don't think we ever felt like we were going to all be in the same place at the same time. But we've always talked to them about some NFL players participating in some of our events and certainly being in the building, and there are a couple of opportunities that you'll see where an NFL player will be a part of what we're doing. And they've been great. We have literally been working with the NFL for about six months on calls every single week. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:25:17] Mhm? 

Steve Mayer [00:25:17] We've been, most importantly, coordinating for an event in Vegas, the opportunity to never miss anything. So from a scheduling and timeline situation, we definitely work together so that we were never coming up with an event that would take place at the same time. And we've been very respectful of each other. We have a longstanding relationship, for me before I ever got to the NHL, I worked with the NFL. And believe it or not, there are lots of people at the NFL on their events team that used to work in the NHL. And it's been awesome to work with them to sort of put a big weekend together for those in Vegas, and there'll be participation. I think that if there was not COVID in the air and this was not a COVID year, we'd probably have more. But I think there'll be enough that people will recognise that the two events are taking place at the same time. 

Jeff Marek [00:26:14] Okay selfish question time, Steve. On the podcast the last couple of months. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:26:17] Is there backwards skating?

Jeff Marek [00:26:19] Stand by. Over the last couple of months we've been talking a lot on the podcast and even had Jonas Brodin record something for the podcast about an event revolving around, who's the fastest backwards skater in the NHL? Has that idea come across your desk or found your ears? 

Steve Mayer [00:26:37] So that, listen, as you can imagine, over the years, we've probably considered every possibility to add to skills. So the answer is yes. Did it come up this year? No. But it didn't, it's always in the sort of discussion part of, let's say, eight months out when we really start to say, what are we changing in skills? It does come up. For this year, I think, because we spent so much time on the two outdoor events and adding that breakaway challenge, we decided not to tweak some of the other events too much. But for the future, it's on the list. We'll put it on the list. 

Jeff Marek [00:27:20] Okay there you go. Elliotte. I'm gonna continue to bark about it, sir. I'm going to continue to drone on about backward skating. 

Steve Mayer [00:27:26] If there's enough public sentiment. Maybe that would be reason to change. Drum it up. 

Jeff Marek [00:27:33] My thinking--Listen, I'll keep banging this drum. I mean, the one thing about the All-Star Weekend, it answers questions, a skills competition answers questions. You know, I always say what this podcast? Hey, what does your podcast do? Well it answers one question that is, how does this work? And I look at the skills competition and I say you break down the components of what goes into a hockey player. And it answers a lot of questions. Who is the fastest skater, who's the hardest shooter, etc. Go right down the line, and backwards skating is such a profound element of the game that I look and I see there's a significant question to be answered here. That's the only reason that I think I'm so fixated on it Steve. And maybe I'm also fixated on it because I think it annoys Elliotte and I love doing things that annoys Elliotte. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:28:10] I think it's actually pretty good I gotta tell you, and I have to say our audience seemed to really rally around it, so I have to--. 

Jeff Marek [00:28:17] They seem to dig it. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:28:18] I have to tip my hat to the audience. Okay so, I have one more thing I want to ask you about: outdoor game next year. What are you thinking? 

Steve Mayer [00:28:26] I'm thinking, I'm living, trying to figure out, trying to get some deals done. You know, it goes back Elliotte to what we were talking about earlier. Nothing gets done with the snap of a finger. Yeah and I don't think again, I don't think the audience actually recognises venue deals, city deals. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:28:48] Mhm. 

Steve Mayer [00:28:49] A lot of paperwork slash conversation, then all the elements within all have to be sort of figured out before we ever announce the game. You know, I think one of the things that I'll say and, you know, we're getting closer to making some announcements but, I will tell the audience that we are going to have a Winter Classic and a Stadium Series game, there will not be a Heritage next year. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:29:17] Okay. 

Steve Mayer [00:29:17] You know, Heritage will be back on the docket in two years, and there are talks about adding games, changing dates, probably giving you a little scoop. We're very open-minded in terms of dates of games when they fall in the calendar, I think because we have some new U.S. television partners? 

Elliotte Friedman [00:29:39] Mhm. 

Steve Mayer [00:29:40] Discussions are out there to try to change things a little bit. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:29:45] Maybe not on New Year's Day is what you're saying.

Steve Mayer [00:29:46] Whether it's Winter Classic, Stadium Series. I mean, I think we're keeping an open mind. I do think for next year, everything is status quo, everything will be very similar. But I do think moving forward, there's discussions about, what do we change and, because of COVID and because of the crazy schedules in the years that have preceded this year. Admittedly, we had some plans that got derailed a bit, games, as we all know, moved. We were supposed to play in Minnesota a year ago!

Elliotte Friedman [00:30:19] All-Star Game in Florida. Like, that's another one, yeah. 

Steve Mayer [00:30:23] Again, kudos to Vegas who, because of how late we had a move on All-Star, it was one of the few places, admittedly, that you can go in a short period of time. Hotel rooms, facilities. Operationally, we were able to do it in a quick, quick timeframe where many times you need a year at least to prepare. We're moving toward getting all of this finalised. I wish I could tell you where we're going. But that would be for the next time you have me on. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:30:57] Okay. So I have a couple of other questions here. Number one, we've had audiences that have asked us about this and I wanted to ask for them. They've asked about Florida. And one of the things that we've said is that, apparently the humidity, it's just too difficult to play an outdoor game there. Is that still the case or have you guys been able to find anything that made you more confident that you could eventually play an outdoor game between the Lightning and the Panthers somewhere in Florida? 

Steve Mayer [00:31:27] So, you know, Florida is a place that of course, given the two teams that are there, their success, especially this year, you know we'd love to be able to play a game there. We have the greatest ice making team in the world. Dan Craig handing things off to Mike Craig and Derek King. And we have the utmost respect for their ability to make ice. It is very difficult and we would need perfect, perfect scenarios to be able to do it in Florida. Again, we're keeping an open mind to it. Obviously it would have to be in night game. Obviously you have to go in what could be the coldest period of time, but right now it's the humidity that makes this really difficult. You know, they get a lot of precipitation in Florida, another piece that would make things very difficult. It's an uphill climb. We'd love to be able to do a game there, but it's an uphill climb in order to figure out how we could protect the ice, potentially in a bubble. There's been a lot of discussion about certain pieces that would make it doable but then when you know, even if you built the ice in a bubble, you'd have to pray that when you took the bubble off that it was the perfect day, and that's a big chance to take. To answer your audience, hey, we'd love to do a game in Florida but right now it is, it is the humidity that makes it extremely difficult to make ice. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:33:01] I loved Tahoe last year. I loved it. 

Jeff Marek [00:33:04] Oh, so good. 

Elliotte Friedman [00:33:05] I loved it. I don't care about all the criticism about where you had to move games. To me, that's just life. You try things. I thought it was fantastic. Is that idea back on the radar at all? 

Steve Mayer [00:33:20] I loved it. Yes, we had some issues with the sun, but the overall look and even looking somebody the other day showed me some pictures from Tahoe, and it was as spectacular an event as we've ever put on. And yes, I think listen, our belief is, these games are so special and you guys know this, you've been there when you walk into Nashville and there's 70,000 people watching a hockey game, oof, that's pretty good. And it's not about the business of it all. It's just about bringing the game to more and more fans, whether Machine Gun Kelly's audience is watching or we're able to put 70,000 people in a football stadium. I do think that as we move forward and expand, the opportunities could be there to add a game here and there in those type of environments. But I, I think first and foremost, especially now, given the environment of finally being able to do what we do best and that's put on these big events again, you know, it's going to be a little time before we go there because we definitely want to bring the game back to fans. 

Jeff Marek [00:34:33] I'm with Elliotte. It was a super visual like, that's one of the things that I like, I'll always remember that look and that game just how cool it looked.

Elliotte Friedman [00:34:43] In the few years you've been at the NHL. I've begun to understand you a little bit. I know that you have something in your head that you're not telling us, that you are saying, somewhere down the road, I am gonna pull out this whopper if they let me. What is that? What is it? What is this thing that you have in Steve Mayer's brain that when it ever hits the NHL, whether it's in one year, five years or ten years, we're all gonna say, holy smokes. 

Steve Mayer [00:35:15] You're gonna have to watch and find out. 

Jeff Marek [00:35:19] Nice try, Friedge. 

Steve Mayer [00:35:23] You know what, we're all just trying to make this bigger and grander and better. We're trying to grow the league. We're trying to, as you guys know, there's a lot of clutter out there in the sports world, you know and, you always gotta figure out, how are you going to do something that breaks through that clutter? How are we gonna get attention when the Pro Bowl's going on and there's always sports going on? And if we do get attention, which we clearly believe we will, we're winning. We did our job. And so you constantly are trying to do that. You know, we have the greatest league. We believe that people come to watch our sport through they're fans for life. So you're just constantly are trying to say, like, let's go, let's go. And and how do we, how do we get some attention in this crazy sports world that we're all in? And so yeah, there's a few ideas in the brain. Elliotte, you know, come on. That was a good try. I really do appreciate that. Stay tuned! Stay tuned! You'll find out. But again, thank you guys for the support and appreciate some of the kind words that you guys have said. Just doing our jobs and just trying to keep the league in everybody's mind and do some fun, cool things at the same time and have some fun. 

Jeff Marek [00:36:46] Well listen Steve, we appreciate you coming on and listen. Have a great time. I know it's a lot of hard work. You've got a great staff that put this all together. Try to enjoy it. I know it's a lot of stress, but enjoy next weekend in Las Vegas, we'll be watching. 

Steve Mayer [00:37:00] Guys, thanks again for having me on and certainly appreciate it and yeah, I hope the audience loves the All-Star Weekend. 

[00:37:07] [Outtro music.]