Goodbye bizarre commercials with Alex Ovechkin’s head: NHL star won’t endorse CCM anymore

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Hockey history has its fair share of strange advertisements, although most of those come from spots for local businesses. That being said, national-level ones can get a little weird too, from Ryan Miller’s “Yo Mamma” ads for Amp energy drinks to the memorable Bud Ice penguin campaigns. Even with those clips in mind, it might be safe to say that CCM’s ads featuring Alex Ovechkin’s disembodied head are the strangest commercials to feature an NHL star.

In case you need a refresher, the two most prominent commercials featured Ovechkin’s head popping up in two locations: a high school kid’s locker and a bowling ball bag. In the first, he praised a young man for picking up the brand’s ice skates. In the second, he scolded the kid for going bowling, noting that the activity won’t improve his hockey performance. You can find video clips of both of these strange and awesome commercials at the bottom of this post.

As great (or “nightmare fuel inducing”) as those ads have been, it seems like Ovechkin wasn’t quite as happy with the equipment as his disembodied head would lead you to believe. The Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir reports that Ovechkin is leaving CCM and won’t endorse Reebok’s ZigTech sneakers anymore, either.

It seems like Ovechkin has had his occasional struggles with his sticks and other equipment, something El-Bashir elaborates upon in the story.

It’s been well documented over the years that Ovechkin wasn’t always happy with the sticks CCM has provided for his use. During my time covering the Caps, I recall him occasionally experimenting with sticks from other manufacturers, and sometimes attempting to hide the fact by spray painting over the logo. I am told, though, that he used CCM sticks exclusively from the end of the 2009-10 season through the end of last season.

This is another example that on-ice equipment might be the one thing that professional athletes should think long and hard about before they actually endorse it, even if it’s the most functional thing a player could be paid to promote. It’s easy to gulp down a little bit of Gatorade (if that’s even Gatorade) in a commercial or pose beside some Cadillac for a local ad even if your only interest in the product is to get paid for giving the thumbs up, but if equipment just doesn’t feel right, that can affect your ability to excel on the ice. One might respond that it’s “all in their heads,” but considering the superstitious nature of many sports stars, that’s not to be taken lightly.

El-Bashir elaborates on the other options Ovechkin has for sponsored gear after speaking with Ovechkin’s agent David Abrutyn about his breakup with CCM.

Abrutyn declined to say which companies Ovechkin is considering for his next endorsement deal. But, outside of CCM and its chief rivals, Bauer and Easton, there aren’t too many options when it comes to high-end hockey equipment.

I imagine we’ll hear something prior to the start of training camp and I bet it will be worth a lot of coin.

For those of you who will mourn the absence of Ovechkin in strange forms of advertising, keep your chins up. His mug will show up on Mr. Big candy bars in Canada, closing at least some of the kitschy marketing gap.

Now enjoy these CCM commercials, because they’re won’t be any new ones in the future. (Unless they choose a new … head?)

“Then the championship will be ours, all ours”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“No one ever got better at hockey by bowling”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.