This has been quite a year so far for one of my new certified hockey man crushes, Ryan Kesler. His fantastic Olympic performance was given a highlight reel exclamation point when he scored quite possibly the most exciting empty net goal I’ve ever seen against Team Canada (in the teams’ first game). His “coward” remark toward Andrew Ladd brought him into the headlines again.
Now he can add another interesting accomplishment: Kesler will be the cover star of the next (and now Wii-exclusive) NHL 2K game, NHL 2K11.
I have to say I’m a little surprised by this. Don’t get me wrong, Kesler is my hero, but there’s no denying that this marks a big star power drop-off from last year’s cover star (goal scoring machine Alex Ovechkin). One could be snide and say that the struggling series is trying to save money, but there are a few reasons – aside from Kesler being super cool – that the company made such a non-traditional choice. (Also, they’ve had role players on their cover before. See: Chris Drury. Zing!)
Perhaps part of the strategy is that avid hockey fans from Canada like him since he’s a member of the Vancouver Canucks while he can appeal to American fans as a gritty player who represented the U.S. in the Olympics. The 2K brand has done something similar with its NBA2K series, putting a defensive-minded player named Ben Wallace on a cover of one of their editions. (That being said, Wallace had an awesome afro and you know what they say, “Fros sell.”)
The most likely reasoning, though, is that he developed a relationship with the company already. Last year, he helped the company motion capture hockey moves for the sake of authenticity and also appeared in their commercials (I’m still not sure if I’m amused or annoyed by those spots, by the way). Anyway, regardless of all the small details, congratulations are in order. Well done, Mr. Kesler.
(H/T to Nucks Misconduct.)