Adam Proteau, currently the brand's columnist/writer, has worked for The Hockey News since 2002 and won the Professional Hockey Writers' award for best column in 2006. He also won the Esso Medal of Achievement for most improved player as a 13-year-old at the 'A' level in 1985, but he's less proud of that.
Endorsing products has been a part of being a top talent in the NHL for nearly as long as the league has been in existence. Advertisers want the star power of hockey players, even if the low-key personalities of those players don’t make them natural public pitchmen.
Although some players do well in the role, more often than not, NHL players hawking products on TV is an exercise in embarrassment. In reverse order, here are the five most embarrassing TV ads featuring NHLers of the modern era:
5. Adam Oates goes dating for the NHL. When he was a member of the Boston Bruins, Oates inexplicably said yes to this commercial, which paints him as a lovelorn hockey star wearing his equipment in a restaurant, as as lovelorn hockey stars are wont to do. From the unfortunately-phrased “loose rebounds” comment to Oates’ weirdly shame-ridden “It wouldn’t be the first time” answer to getting shot down, this ad doesn’t make you want to buy an NHL ticket. It makes you want to sign him up for eharmony.com.
The Canadiens locked up center Lars Eller to a four-year, $14-million contract extension Thursday, avoiding a Friday arbitration date that could’ve poisoned the waters between the team and the 25-year-old center. It’s not a bargain signing at this stage in Eller’s career, but it’s another one of GM Marc Bergevin’s reasonable gambles.
Eller’s $3.5 annual average value is a massive raise on the $1.325-million he earned in each of the previous two seasons – and far more than the $1.65 million salary the Habs suggested he receive prior to the arbitration meeting – but Bergevin had to do it if he was going to buy the first two years of unrestricted free agency away from Eller. Bergevin has given Eller the same contract he gave to Montreal center David Desharnais last summer and is clearly projecting bigger and better things for the Danish native, who struggled during the regular season (12 goals and 26 points in 77 games) but was a solid contributor for the Canadiens in the playoffs, finishing second in points (13) behind P.K. Subban.
Once again, an NHL team has shown arbitration is a true last resort. It would’ve been more financially prudent to put Eller through an emotional wringer and come away with a smaller salary for him, but the damage it would’ve inflicted on his psyche wouldn’t be worth it. Now they have a happy player determined to atone for his poor regular season – and if he doesn’t fit into their long-term plans, the contract isn’t outrageous enough for him to be untradeable. Read more
The Maple Leafs’ hiring of Kyle Dubas as their new assistant GM Tuesday, and the ensuing debate and discussion about the advanced statistics revolution Dubas is a part of, has intriguing parallels to a similar hiring in Toronto 37 years ago. Back then, another young (although not quite as young as the 28-year-old Dubas) hockey mind with a different approach was brought into hockey’s biggest fishbowl to test out his theories.
That man was the late Roger Neilson, hired as Leafs head coach July 25, 1977. His name isn’t referenced nearly enough in the advanced stats debate, but Neilson must be considered, if not the granddaddy of the advanced stats movement, then one of its founding fathers. And THN’s archives provide ample evidence of how nimble and creative Neilson’s mind was when it came to seeing the game through a new prism – and the baseless backlash it triggered in the inflexible, conservative hockey establishment.
In 1978, THN columnist Frank Orr wrote about Neilson being viewed as “slightly bonkers” because of his “slightly unorthodox approach” and the “assorted gimmicks he employs”. Read more
The Los Angeles Kings may have won two of the past three Stanley Cup championships, but in THN’s current NHL logo ranking contest, they’re not nearly as much of a mover-and-shaker. Our in-house panel of judges ranked L.A.’s current logo 24th overall.
The Kings’ straight-ahead approach to this incarnation of their logo – featuring the initials of the city above the crown that in some form has been a part of every logo since the organization’s inception in 1967 – isn’t especially creative or eye-catching. Sure, it’s better than some of their more daring fashion experiments, but that’s damning with faint praise.
Maybe you think you could improve on the Kings’ current logo. If so, submit it to email@example.com – and once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.
(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)
HISTORY OF THE KINGS LOGO
When the Kings debuted in the 1967-68 season, they wore purple jerseys at home and gold on the road. The colors were chosen by team owner and expat Canadian Jack Kent Cooke, and represented royalty – and to match nicely with the color scheme of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The crown logo that appeared on the jersey differed from the primary logo.
After eight seasons, the Kings changed logos for the first time. The team added horizontal lines around the name to provide a sense of speed, and kept their second logo for eight years (while also adding purple pants after spending their initial seasons wearing gold pants).
In 1988, the Kings’ logo changed drastically. Gone was the purple and gold, replaced by a black-and-silver version of their previous logo. The change coincided with the acquisition of NHL icon Wayne Gretzky, and their new colors were a match with a different L.A. team – the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders (who have since relocated back to their original home in Oakland). Because there were no throwback jersey nights, Gretzky would never wear purple and gold in his eight years with the organization. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their management team Tuesday, dismissing assistant GMs Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle and hiring former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds GM Kyle Dubas as assistant GM.
The timing of the move doesn’t follow the NHL’s normal pattern of managerial changes that take place immediately after the playoffs conclude, but this is a special circumstance; new Leafs president Brendan Shanahan only came on board in mid-April and required time to properly assess the organization before making major changes. He’s now had three months in the position and the moves he made Tuesday suggest he’s a far more progressive-minded type than he’s received credit for.
Why? Because the 28-year-old Dubas is highly regarded around the industry as a sharp hockey mind with a firm grasp of advanced statistics. It was only a matter of time before an NHL team scooped him up, and for Shanahan to land him has to be considered a coup – and, more importantly, an indication the way the Leafs do business is changing. Read more
Minnesota Wild winger Thomas Vanek’s name was linked Monday to a federal gambling investigation connected to a Rochester, N.Y., restaurant. Vanek visited a federal courthouse in that city with his lawyer Monday and a local TV station filmed them leaving.
Vanek issued a statement on the situation through his agent, Steve Bartlett:
“Representatives of the U.S. Federal Government have asked for my cooperation in an investigation. I am not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. I will fully cooperate with the U.S. Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it.” Read more
The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a season that gave their fans legitimate hope the team could return to its heyday as one of the NHL’s powerhouse franchises. But their bizarre treatment of center Ryan O’Reilly is casting a shadow over some of that success. Indeed, their ongoing dealings with O’Reilly are quickly becoming a textbook case of how to alienate young talent and ensure they depart at their first opportunity.
The details of the arbitration case between the Avs and O’Reilly – first reported Monday by THN’s Ken Campbell – are troubling: O’Reilly is asking for $6.75 million on a one-year contract, but the team is offering a $5.525 million salary. That’s right, the Avs’ leading goal-scorer last season (who set personal bests on offense with 28 goals and 64 points in 80 games) and one of the NHL’s more highly-regarded young two-way players is being asked to take a 15 percent pay cut (the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement) at a time when the salary cap continues to rise and when Colorado has already lost one of its other talented centers (Paul Stastny) for nothing.
Of course, in every arbitration case, the team comes in with a lower number than they’re likely willing to settle for, and the player does the same on the higher end. The Avalanche would argue O’Reilly’s last contract had an average annual value of $5 million per season, meaning their proposal would be a raise of sorts. But that’s spin. The reality is, when the Avs matched the offer sheet the 23-year-old signed (for two years and $10-million) with the Calgary Flames after the 2012-13 lockout ended, O’Reilly became a $6.5-million-per-season player for them in the final year of that deal. The Avalanche might not have liked it – and clearly, they don’t value O’Reilly’s skills the way Calgary did – but by retaining the asset, they had to know what it would mean to now ask O’Reilly to take a haircut down the line, especially when he’s come as advertised and continued to improve. Ostensibly, you’re telling him that, no matter what he did last season, or what he’ll continue to do for them in the years to come, they see him at a certain financial slot. Read more
Every year around this time, THN’s editorial staff convenes in a boardroom to hash out our pre-season NHL predictions. The predictions meeting is a raucous couple of hours in which, after consulting with coaches, scouts, and our larger network of contacts, we debate the merits and flaws of every team before we slot them into divisional finishes. And by its conclusion, we’ve established some semblance of probability for each franchise’s fortunes.
But this year’s meeting had some particularly interesting aspects. For one thing, a majority of staffers liked one team in particular to win the Stanley Cup – yes, you’ll have to wait until our annual Yearbook is released in mid-August to find out which team that is – but the more intriguing development was the astonishing range of opinion on the grand majority of teams.
Now, there wasn’t much differentiation in what we thought of the league’s very best and worst franchises (nobody was willing to argue the Ducks would miss the playoffs, nor that the Sabres would win the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season squad), but once we stopped talking about a handful of teams destined for the penthouse or outhouse, our expectations varied drastically.
Take the New Jersey Devils, for instance. Read more