“From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality.” Air Canada in a letter to the NHL.

That makes sense.  Even if the NHL doesn’t think so.

This has been a brutal year in the NHL. Players and the NHL  have shown a stunning lack of respect for themselves, their fellow players, the NHL brand, the League, fans and the Game.

They’ve made it clear through their actions and words that they do not understand that increasingly in society – and in corporations – winning at all costs is no longer acceptable – winning responsibly is.

Here’s and excerpt from the Wikipedia definition of Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR as it is known:

Corporate social responsibility ….. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the sphere…

Here are links to the Corporate Social Responsibility policies of some NHL partners and sponsors:

Rogers

Telus

Scotiabank

Sony

McDonalds

Best Buy

Bell

Not every NHL sponsor or partner publicly articulates a corporate social responsibility policy (for example, I couldn’t find one for Air Canada) but it’s evident from their websites that all of them integrate socially responsible policies into their corporate governance practices (sustainability is key term many of them use – and it does not just mean green).

I suspect given what’s gone on in the NHL this season – especially since the Chara hit in Montreal – that it’s not only Air Canada who’s had to put a little thought into how their association with the NHL is consistent or inconsistent with their notions of corporate social responsibility – and what’s best for their brand.

It’s also interesting how most of them are prepared – at least for now – to keep playing with their heads down. In hockey, that’s never a good thing.