If we’re rolling with the hockey purist television ads, we might as well go back to the vault for this 2006 Gatorade/Sidney Crosby gem. My tardiness is forgivable, since (a) this ad played exclusively in Canada and (b) this blog didn’t exist in 2006. Whether you love The Kid or hate him, this is a pretty original idea with solid execution, and brings the viewer back to a day when a pile of sticks signaled the start of every neighborhood street hockey game. Here’s the minute-long ad in its entirety, with some facts on the spot below:
-The now-defunct Downtown Partners in Toronto came up with the idea for the commercial, which was filmed over two days in a Toronto neighborhood.
-The spot debuted on Canadian television and in Canadian movie theaters on April 17, 2006, just in time for the start of the NHL playoffs. The Penguins did not take part in the 05-06 playoffs after finishing with the second-worst record in the NHL.
-In addition to several hundred extras, the spot features the Hanson Brothers, who were (sort of, not really) fictional characters from the 1977 cult movie Slapshot.
-If you look closely at the 0:28 mark, you’ll see the bus bears the name “RIMOUSKI”, which is a Canadian city about 3 hours northeast of Quebec City. It’s also the home of Rimouski Oceanic, the Quebec Major Junior team that Crosby played for from 2003 to 2005. Several players bound out of the bus wearing Oceanic jerseys.
-There is some mystery around the tall Russian who puts his stick in the pile around the 0:33 mark. He’s sporting a red #11 jersey with the cryptic name ‘K3EPTOK’ across the back. A google search of the name comes up with dozens of pages, all referencing this same commercial. One theory refers to the hacker term “KEEPTOK”, or “Keep Talkin”. Some have insinuated that it’s a little jab to Crosby’s superstar counterpart in DC, Alexander Ovechkin. Furthermore, many blog commenters have wondered aloud if the guy playing the unnamed Russian is Mario Lemieux or one of the Lindros brothers. From what I can tell, none of these are true, and I’ve read at least one person declare that it’s simply an Ontario-based actor portraying an anonymous Russian.
-A bit of history on the type of stick Crosby uses. In the commercial, he drops his familiar (in 2006) black Sher-Wood Momentum graphite shaft with a Sher-Wood Axiom wood blade onto the pile. He started using that particular setup at the age of 13, and even had a stick deal with Sher-Wood for a while. But once that deal expired in 2007, Crosby switched to a Reebok stick, as seen in this heartbreaking-if-you’re-American photo. There are whispers that the first Reebok stick he used in 2007 still sported a Sher-Wood blade, but I’ve been unable to uncover any proof of this claim.