NHL announces departure of Chief Operating Officer John Collins

NEW YORK -- The NHL has lost its No. 3 in command, announcing Tuesday evening that chief operating officer John Collins was stepping down to "pursue a new business opportunity."

Collins joined the NHL in November 2006, and his marketing and business vision was instrumental in introducing new ideas to the league, including the advent of the Winter Classic outdoor game.

"John leaves a lasting mark," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release. "His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors."

Said Collins in a statement: "I'm grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be. The NHL's future is filled with promise and potential, and I will admire and cheer the League's successes to come on the global stage."