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NHL wants to go big with 2017 Centennial celebration

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TORONTO – The NHL’s centennial celebration for 2017 isn’t just a passion project for commissioner Gary Bettman. It’s important to Steve Mayer.

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The league’s executive vice president and executive producer for programming and creative development was tasked with this project shortly after he was hired on Dec. 8, 2015 and he has made it one of his top priorities since. Bettman has often talked about the importance of this celebration and to Mayer, it’s vital to get it right.

“We’re looking at everything big, and this is how we’re looking at this as well. I’m very proud of how we’ve gotten to this point today based on when I started and I think we’re going to make this great and we are going to make this great because we have to,” Mayer said. “It’s really important to the commissioner. He is in love with this project. This is a passion play for him and we’re going to make it great.”

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On Tuesday the NHL unveiled a lot of the elements that Mayer has dived into since the league brought him in. Overall there are several parts of the centennial that Mayer is especially proud of.

Mayer was brought into the league in part to align it with more celebrity entertainers and that’s part of his goal with this project.

“We’re trying to attach celebrity and music,” Mayer said. “So we’ll have some celebrities that will be the voices of our centennial and we’ll announce those pretty soon.”

The league announced a documentary on the history of the league made by four different executive producers that Mayer hopes will give a closer look into the different eras of the NHL. Some of the people involved with the films are important members of the entertainment industry, though Mayer didn’t divulge names yet.

“What we’re looking at are people who are obsessed with hockey and we’re taking each 25 year pod and then we’re going to highlight those 25 years through the point of view of that particular person. Really unique, really different way to do it and that will look at the history of hockey. Those four people, you’ll get why we did that,” Mayer said. “You’ll get why we went in that direction and with celebrities we’re going to use their voices. We’re about to announce the celebrity voices so every piece we do will have those voices on them.”

Mayer also believes the centennial truck tour, that will go from Jan. 1 through Dec. 2017, will add unique elements from each team in their home cities. This will help each market celebrate the centennial while adding a local flavor.

This includes a 53-foot museum truck with “an interactive interior with original video content, exclusive memorabilia, and fan activations.” Also, there will be another 53-foot truck that will hold a big video screen for viewing parties and appearance from current and former players. A synthetic ice rink will be available for youth games and clinics.

“We just want to take hockey everywhere, “ Mayer said.

The list of 100 greatest players will not be numbered in ordered and will be selected by what Mayer called a “blue ribbon panel” of people who will vote.

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“No countdown for a lot of reasons. We’ll let you make the countdown,” Mayer said of why the list isn’t numbered.

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