08 December 2007

This is why hockey players aren't media moguls

There is a lot of press about how hockey can't seem to penetrate major markets. One of the reasons may be hockey commercials. You see, they vary. They vary between awesome, hilarious, etc., and mind-meltingly awful. However, the awesome and hilarious ones are catering to a fairly limited sector of the population who are going to find them funny, and an even more limited sector that actually enjoys the camp value. And the mind-meltingly awful ones have universal bad appeal.

You want to see a decent Nike commercial? This one, with Naslund and Kovalchuk, from a couple years ago, is pretty good. It's a cool concept, with bits of actual humor (look at the referee's and then the coach's expression--highly amusing!) and--this is key: it involves VERY LITTLE ACTUAL ACTING. This is because hockey players are generally very very bad actors. See: Good commercial.

A bad, bad commercial that I cannot for the life of me find on Youtube right now is that one that they keep showing on TSN (and, I'm sure, other networks, but I don't really see them) with the awful dark lighting and players that I cannot recall like...rolling over each other's backs in order to score goals. It's awful. There is not one single redeeming factor about that commercial, and it doesn't even come across as "cool" as they keep hoping it will.

You want to see a bad commercial of a different stripe? I have three: This tragic Blackhawks commercial about soda, this tragic one where they can't decide what to watch on the TV they inexplicably have in the locker room, and this one just in general. You know what the common thread is, here? (Don't say the Blackhawks. That's only partial credit.) THEY ALL INVOLVE ACTING. Look, man. They are TERRIBLE actors. Even if they sat around and talked like that in real life--which I can't see just because I don't think Marty Havlat would bother hanging around most of his teammates--they couldn't pull that off. It's just not good! Does that make you want to watch the Blackhawks play hockey? I hope not.

This is a bad commercial because it is boring as all get-out, and Ted Nolan is not an especially attractive man. That's the best you could come up with, Islanders Organization? Really?

You want to see a couple misguided but extremely funny anyway commercials? Here and here, both of which are from the amusing nation of Slovakia for, I think, the World Cup. Both feature arguably attractive young women who are very, very poor actors, being surprised in daily activities by a three-piece band of nutty Slovakian hockey fans with...musical instruments. No, I don't understand it either. Just watch them, seriously, you will laugh.

The whole set of NHL commercials that were running a couple years ago, the "[Player X] is just here to remind you that the season's starting soon," those were pretty good. Although this one with Peter Forsberg is somewhat terrifying, just because of the whole concept of Peter Forsberg being in someone's bed besides his own, with his "I will eat your soul" eyes. But this one, with Marty Turco, is very awesome as well, if only for that guy's delivery of "Okay! No music!" Seriously, who is that guy? He needs his own show.

Another set of NHL commercials I really really really enjoyed were the "NHL players are just like you and me!" commercials. I'm torn over which is my favorite: Joe Thornton's inability to eat toast, because that one was actually my life after the past week since none of my three roommates nor I could remember to buy margarine at the grocery store and had only rock-hard butter to eat on or toast, OR Ovechkin's inability to buy chips out of a vending machine. That commercial is the awesome reason whenever I'm directing someone, I shout "I said left! Left!" in a heavy Russian accent, but since no one but me remembers that commercial, I come across as a lunatic, not an...impersonator of hockey commercials, which I guess means I fall into a different category of lunatic.

The same set had the unbelievably awesome NHL Roadtrip commercial, which if you've never seen, you need to watch, like, immediately. It is all KINDS of awesome. (Except for the Staal brothers, who are just creepy as anything.) It has again, Ovechkin being kind of weirdly hilarious and ordering a shitload of food in Sidney Crosby's name, Sidney Crosby being not only hideous but a terrible actor, and about a dozen other players just generally being stupid and hilarious. My favorite part? "What are you doing?" "Nothing."

And, of course, the "Swedish Twins" commercial. This is a really really awesome commercial, if only for the Sedin twins dancing around. Honest to God, every person in that commercial deserves to be just heaped with awards. The first time I showed this to my dad, he nearly had a stroke from laughing so hard. That's how awesome it is.

Now I feel like I watch too much TV. So I'll finish off with this commercial, which at least makes me feel better about my addiction. The more hockey you watch, the tougher you get.

[And a thank-you to the beyond awesome girls over at Untypical Girls for linking to me! Sorry about the Stars losing to the Sens, guys. But...the Sens really needed the win. Please don't hurt me. You guys rule!]

02 December 2007

Cold enough for you?

It's winter, for sure--here in Ottawa we have approximately a dozen feet of snow and ice and slush to match. I think maybe the Sens have early-onset cabin fever, because they have been pretty hilariously inept lately. I was at the game against the Rangers yesterday and really, it's not even worth discussing. In fact, let's have a pop quiz:

Question: If your team is down three goals to none ten minutes into the first, what is the best course of action?
A: Just try and ride out the worst of it and take the break to get a grip and start over
B: Start a fight or two to get the dejected drunken fans back into the game
C: Start juggling your line combinations to inject some actual enthusiasm into the game
D: Check all the water bottles to see which of your players have apparently been drinking before and during the game
E: Give up when you notice your coach has been using the whiteboards to play hangman with the equipment guys.

The Sens actually chose Secret Option F, which was "Flail around madly for a while, then start taking penalties to really give the Rangers a sporting chance, in order to lull them into a false sense of security so you can come out swinging in the third and really show them what's what." It failed miserably. There weren't even any hilariously drunk fans by us up in the very last row of the stadium. Of course, it was a two o'clock start, so that may have had something to do with it. On the other hand, they were playing really really badly, so I wouldn't have judged anybody for starting their weekend festivities early.

But there are plenty of other teams that aren't having a six-game suckfest.

Teams Doing Surprisingly Well Going Into The Holiday Stretch:

No, really. Havlat is back, thank goodness, and all their little-kiddy forwards are putting in highlight-reel performances every single night. In Chicago. CHICAGO. They are doing WELL. I am floored, but in the best possible way. Is it possible they're bringing back an Original Six franchise for good? God, I hope so.

Minnesota: As long as Gaborik and Demitra are not injuring their groins by slipping on ice or falling down the stairs or stretching weirdly while lying on the sofa or what ever it is that is causing them to go back and forth on the IR like a tag-team effort--as long as they're not doing that, Minnesota is doing surprisingly well. Too bad their defense and goaltending is just boring as all get-out.

Detroit: Well, no one is surprised by this, are they? Unless the entire team suddenly takes off on an all-expenses-paid all-inclusive six-day seven-night trip to Cancun, it looks like they will continue to be in good shape.

Philadelphia: Hork. Too bad I hate them, but they're doing really well. Thank goodness they play in the same division as Pittsburgh and can smack them down on a regular basis, that's all I have to say.

Ottawa: See Detroit, and for Cancun read "anywhere but here," because I tell you what, it is damn cold around here, and they would be grateful for anywhere not frozen over.

New York Rangers: Oh, Henrik Lundqvist, you are making a beautiful thing happen in Madison Square Garden. And in the game yesterday, one of those goals you totally had no chance on. Now if your forwards can get it together like they were doing against Ottawa--although let's face it, Ottawa was putting up very little fight--you would definitely be in the running.

And the converse, Teams Looking Like Death Warmed Over:

Oh my goodness. Is there anything right with this team? Kiprusoff's GAA and save percentage is around fortieth. Fortieth. 40. IN THE LEAGUE. At this point Calgary management would be better served by going and standing outside a corner store for a bit, waiting to see who slips and falls on their way out and doesn't spill coffee all over them, and signing that person to a 2.5-million-dollar contract.

Anaheim: Excuse me while I laugh so hard I wrench something in my neck.

Buffalo: Ah, Ryan Miller, of "Two-man advantage: Instagoal!" fame, you're dragging the team down with you.

Florida: I feel bad for ripping on Florida because they're so pathetic, it's like making fun of a three-legged dog because it can't run as fast as the other dogs. Too bad it's so irresistible, because man, some of the plays they make are laughably awful. Do they have defensemen besides Jay Bouwmeester? Would it matter if they did?

Edmonton: What is in the water in Alberta? Is it something about the terrain?

New Jersey: More problems than you can shake a stick at, starting with Martin Brodeur, who is just now starting to get back into form. I think this is the beginning of the end for Brodeur--or not quite, really, because during the playoffs last year he was not looking like his usual sharp self, yet somehow walked away with the Vezina anyway. I think Brodeur is on his way out, and boy, is that going to be hard on New Jersey, because they are just riddled with problems from top to bottom.

Pittsburgh: Hahahahahahaha! I would love to see Sidney Crosby and Friends crash and burn as Pittsburgh management learns that one player--not Crosby or Gretzky or Jesus Christ back on earth and playing No. 1 forward--can carry a team.