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Photo credit: Reuters/SHAUN BEST

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was named “Sports Executive of the Year” at the 2014 Sports Business Journal Awards. This the first time Commissioner Bettman has won the award.

“While I am extremely proud to receive this award, I am more proud of the great people at the National Hockey League who helped make 2013-14 a record-setting season on a variety of levels — including thrills, excitement and fun,” he said. “I also thank our Clubs, our broadcast and business partners and the best fans in sports for their support; I know that their combined power will generate an even-brighter future for NHL hockey.”

Other nominees for “Sports Executive of the Year” were Fox Sports President and COO Randy Freer; Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber; Under Armour CEO and founder Kevin Plank; and Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive.

The NHL won two other awards including “Sports League of the Year” and “Sports League of the Year” for the 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic at the “Big House” in Michigan. The League was previously honored with a Sports Business Award in this category in 2011.

Accepting the award was NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who told reporters, “Our athletes are the best in team sports. We wouldn’t be standing here tonight without the players.”

Other nominees for “Sports League of the Year” included the Atlantic Coast Conference, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, NASCAR and PGA Tour.

The Winter Classic game, held at the University of Michigan, shattered the previous hockey attendance record with a record crowd of 105,491 and captured its second Sports Business Award. It previously won in 2009 for the inaugural 2008 NHL Winter Classic in Buffalo. NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins accepted the award.

“What makes the NHL Winter Classic so special is the way our fans and our players have embraced it,” Collins said. “Our great partners at Bridgestone and NBC also play a vital role and we’re grateful to the SportsBusiness Journal for once again recognizing the Winter Classic as an event that does what sports is supposed to do: Bring people together to create unforgettable memories for generations of fans.”

The other nominees for “Sports Event of the Year” were Super Bowl XLVIII, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open, The ONE: Mayweather vs. Canelo presented by Showtime Networks.

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, I sort of grew up an LA Kings fan by default. My dad was into hockey and then my brother got into hockey and I found that I sorta liked this hockey stuff. Go Kings.

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