I create context. I also write blog posts:

Finding Use In A Broken Stick.

Posted: December 31st, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

While I was home on break, I went to a hockey game with my family. Being in the rink reminded me of a pivotal hockey memory, one that I’m going to remember for a long, long time.

I was fortunate as a kid that Amerk games were a pretty regular occurrence, thanks to an aunt and uncle who used to allow my brother and me to tag along and holler nonsensical taunts until our throats went dry (’cause when you’re four, shouting “your mother was a toaster and your father was a snowplow!” makes total sense…). They picked us up on Friday nights and, as habit dictated, we got to the rink early, dropped off our coats at our seats, and walked down to ice level to watch the warmups.

Because our seats were on the horseshoe at the end of the arena the visitors defended twice, and because the Amerks end was always crowded, we usually stood watching the visitors take shots. It was good, ’cause we already knew all the Amerks but this gave us a chance to scout the other teams and figure out who we — and the hometown team — should be on the lookout for. And I particularly enjoyed the closeup view of the goalies.

On a particular night that I can recall, we went down to watch the warmups the way we always did, as the Hershey Bears took the ice. I was probably only six or seven then and I don’t remember much of the night, but there are some things that still come to mind: the old green leather seats and the buzz from the high bay lights hanging from the rafters that were turned off during the periods, and the slick steps that became slicker when beer was spilled and slush melted from boots. And there was the billboard at the other end of the ice that reiterated what we were all thinking: “Boy could I go for a Genny now?” (well, I’m not sure I was thinking it then, but I bet everyone else was…).

The pre-game warmup is generally a pretty casual affair. Players get the blood flowing and their hearts beating, goalies get a feel for the puck, and coaches rarely involve themselves. So the show lacks any real excitement; you don’t see many big saves, you don’t see puck battles or defense being played, and I’d bet there’s never been a check thrown amongst teammates before the game starts. But you get to see players loosened up, horsing around a little and enjoying themselves. They’re focused, but not in the way they are during the game.

And so, sometimes they interact with the fans.

At some point during the shootaround, Hershey’s goalie broke his stick. Leaving players to shoot on an empty net, he skated towards us to the bench to get a new one. I watched as the equipment manager chose a replacement from a stack behind the bench. I couldn’t wait to play pro hockey so I’d have an unlimited supply of sticks to choose from (though, being only six or seven years old, I’d never actually broken one myself, so I didn’t really need a backup, let alone a closetful of them). And as the goalie was handing the broken stick over, he tapped it on the glass in front of me and said something to the equipment manager. I couldn’t hear what he said, but as soon as he skated away, the equipment manager motioned for my uncle to come to the glass then pointed at me. As soon as we understood what he meant, he lofted the stick over and gave me a thumbs up.

I don’t remember much about the game, except that it went into overtime and that I was probably the only Amerks fan rooting for the Bears to win it. I also remember the goalie’s name: Scott LaGrand.

It’s rare that the warmup is better than the game — and rightly so — but I was the envy of every kid in our section and every kid we passed on the way to the car that night. On subsequent nights in my bedroom, I pretended to defend an imaginary goal from imaginary opponents with that stick. When I began playing goal a few years later, I made sure the tape job on my sticks followed the exact pattern. I even used the same brand for a long time.

I’m still not sure who won the game that night, but who cares? I remember enough.

Going To The Hockey Game

Posted: August 26th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

This is my submission to the Rochester Story Walk.

We had a plan, and it was a good one.

We rehearsed it on the drive in. Everybody knew their roles, and we ran through our lines flawlessly. Our scheme was simple, our preparation thorough; it was foolproof, it had to work.

Heading downtown following a blurry parade of brake lights and hustling pedestrians, we parked in the Midtown Garage and walked the tunnel under Exchange Boulevard, nothing amiss about our foursome among the crush of other hockey fans. Red, white, and blue jerseys and hats and signs painted the scene; there was a buzz, an excitement in the air.

But there was one problem: I was six years old.

“When the usher asks you how old you are, what are you going to say?” my aunt asked me.
Read the rest of this entry »

The NHL Does It Again

Posted: June 4th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

About a month ago, I went through some of my favorite NHL commercials and posted them here. Well, we’re into the Stanley Cup finals this year, and the NHL just released a new one. I think it’s on par with any of the ones that I posted before. Here it is:


What makes it powerful?

Well, to start… it’s powerful. How do you describe the feeling of doing something so huge? You can’t. That stands out to me, because so many marketers are focused on what they’re trying to say that they don’t often consider the importance of what’s not said.

The players in this commercial come from teams that span the last quarter century. Some of them played together, some of them didn’t. Some of them had retired before some of them had even finished elementary school. But they’ve all won the Cup. They’ve all experienced something that neither you nor I will ever experience. And they’ve all had the same reaction.

We’re not talking about winning the French Open, we’re not talking about winning the World Series. We’re talking about winning the hardest trophy in sports. Why is it hard? Because you have to win 16 games. Because it’s 8 weeks of physical play, every other night, with little rest between series. Because players often can’t walk by the end, but they summon the strength for late-game heroics when it’s all on the line. Because guys like Duncan Keith lost 7 teeth when he took a slapshot in the mouth, but stayed on to finish the game. Because a guy like Ian Laperriere blocked a shot with his face that took 90 stitches to sew up — the brain contusion that showed up didn’t help matters — in the first round and returned a month and a half later to finish his season. He’s playing tonight. Why do I mention all of this? Because the players in the commercial don’t. Because that’s what it takes to win the Cup, and because nobody who went through it could adequately explain what it’s like to someone who hasn’t.

I’m at about 350 words here in this post, but I’m telling you why I like this commercial. I can’t tell you what it’s like to win the Cup. But I’m guessing I couldn’t, even if I tried.

6 Top Notch NHL Commercials

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The NHL hasn’t done much right in the past few years, from replacing ESPN with Versus to implementing the shootout to supporting bankrupt teams in non-traditional markets. But one thing they always seem to nail are commercials come playoff time. Here are my favorite campaigns:

History Will Be Made:

This year’s campaign focuses on the moments in the past that have made history. The campaign, aside from offering a nostalgic feel, have been updated throughout these playoffs, capturing new moments that will never be forgotten .

Every Second Counts:
The NHL Playoffs are the longest, hardest tournament in sports. No other trophy requires of its champions so much endurance, pain, and sweat.

The Coach:
The NHL Network ran these promos a few seasons ago, poking fun at the complexities of the sport.

Is This The Year:
Famous photos come to life as the NHL asks players “Is This The Year?” This particular promo features Sidney Crosby, following a loss in the Stanley Cup Finals the year before at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. He and the Penguins went on to defeat the Red Wings in a rematch that year.

NHL Players Are Just Like You:

This was one of my favorite campaigns. The NHL has attempted a few lines of humorous commercials, with this one topping the rest.

Cup Raise:

And finally, my favorite. It’s every hockey player’s dream to raise the Cup above his head. It’s something they all pretend when they’re kids, and only few get to do in real life…

{That one makes me all fuzzy inside}


Posted: April 30th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Round 2 starts tonight.

Probably One of the Greatest Hockey Videos Ever…

Posted: April 5th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Hey kids, here’s a trash talking tutorial. Obviously, there’s gonna be some NSFW language. But it’s awesome:

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