Steve Mayer, NHL executive vice-president and chief content officer, is talking about the 10-part Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance and how he’s trying to convince Alex Ovechkin to allow cameras to record his every move for the next few years.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve already started the conversation,” said Mayer in an interview with the Ottawa Sun. “I’ve got a guy who’s chasing one of the greatest records in hockey history. Can I follow him now all the way to him getting that record?”
Mayer likens his aggressive approach to former head of NBA Entertainment, Adam Silver.
“Back then, (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver was running NBA entertainment. He was like me, which I laugh about. And he did a deal with Jordan and said, ‘We want to shoot all this. You’re completely in charge. When you say that you want to release it, we’re good.’ So twenty years from now, it could be Alex Ovechkin.”
Mayer’s mantra is “Let’s make the next one bigger — better.” What’s next? What else can he do? What can he get away with? Right now, he’s concerned with producing content during this hiatus and brainstorming what the Stanley Cup playoffs will look like in a world without live fans.
“When we come back, we’re coming back without fans. It’s pretty obvious,” he says. “We’ve got to make fans feel like they’re at the game when they’re not at the game. During the regular season, fans go to the games and they feel like they’re a part of it, so there will be an element of ‘Man, I wish I was in that world’ once we start playing again. We’re brainstorming what our world is going to look like. It’s going to be a huge challenge.”
He’s already convinced Ovechkin and Wayne Gretzky into picking up a pair of controllers and playing a game of NHL 20 against each other, has P.K. Subban hosting a trivia game show, and has reunited the entire Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues for a zoom chat. And, frankly, he’s surprised at how much he has gotten away with.
“I joke about it, but if I tried to get Alex Ovechkin and Wayne Gretzky in a room to do a one-hour interview, it would take me a year,” says Mayer. “But now, I can go, ‘Hey Alex, Wayne, I’ve got an idea: let’s do an interview with you two guys and let’s do it next Thursday at 3 o’clock.’ And they go, ‘Sure.’”
More in Mayer’s interview with the Ottawa Sun is here.