Connect with us

Cold Hard Rants

Cold Hard Rants: Warts are Attractive

Sometimes, when watching television you see and hear things that are so hard to believe, it makes you ponder if you actually heard and saw what you think. Normally, most of these existential, “question your own existence” situations occur while watching and listening to some of our more “informed” columnists and analysts pontificate about topics they know naught about. (Look for this phenomenon anytime John Garrett, he of the Dale Hawerchuk does not belong in the hall of fame argument, opens his mouth.) Recently though, a situation of historic proportions took place when a commercial, designed to sell me on a product (in this case Tim Horton’s), made me pause in bewilderment.

The commercial in question, of which our Canadian viewers I am sure are familiar with (and can be viewed here), features NHL marketing poster boy Sidney Crosby purportedly on the team bus with his fellow Pittsburgh Penguins. To make a long, painful commercial short, the bus breaks down, yet Sidney is not phased by this, as he sees in the distance a game of shinny being played on an outdoor rink and he decides to join the kids in their game. Besides the obvious problems in the commercial, namely that 1) NHL teams don’t travel from game to game by bus, and 2) that in the hypothetical situation the Penguins were to travel by bus, their would be a zero chance of them stopping to play in a game of shinny lest they get hit from a stray bullet emanating from somewhere near the Pennsylvania turnpike, the commercial does nothing to make me want a Tim Horton’s product. Now obviously, the marketing of Tim Horton’s is not an issue for me or this blog to tackle, but what the commercial did get me thinking about, is whether real, hardcore hockey fans like Sidney Crosby.

Not to sound like Don Cherry whose criticisms of Crosby have been well documented by better writers than I, but I think the anointment of Crosby as the next be all and end all of hockey has caused serious resentment amongst the NHL fraternity. I believe that materialized on national TV this past Sunday when Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals handled the Penguins with ease, and weren’t shy about telling Crosby about his failures. In Canada, the failing of the Penguins this year is especially poignant given the saturation of Sidney Crosby we are over exposed to thanks to his endless appearances in various TV commercials. In all these commercials, Crosby plays different versions of this sweet humble kid who would be just as happy on the shinny rink as he is playing in Joe Louis Arena. There is no edge to him, no “dark side”, and I think this corporate whitewashing of his personality is what has hurt him in the eyes of real NHL fans.

Compare and contrast Crosby with Ovechkin, his most likely competitor for the mantle of best NHL player. A hockey fan’s first knowledge of Ovechkin (not including the die-hards who pay attention to the funny Russian kids Canada’s Junior team runs rough-shod over every year) was the grainy video of Ovechkin getting a hole-in-one during his first golf outing ever. Here was this gangly, awkward, ugly, Russian guy, with minimal command of the language, celebrating his hole in one. The biggest difference between our contact with Ovechkin in this video, and Crosby in all other experiences is that in this video Ovechkin seemed real and genuine. He was just like any of us would have been had we gotten a hole in one. Had that been Crosby, the video probably would have been sanitized, cleaned up, touched up, and air-brushed before we would be able to view it.

In short, this is what I feel the biggest difference is between Ovechkin and Crosby and their popularities. Ovechkin seems human, flaws and all. Crosby seems sanitized, flaws never to be seen by the public. Oh, and his constant whining, begging, complaining, and sucker punching doesn’t help him at all. He might want to work on that.

For Illegal Curve, I am Drew Mindell.

Join the discussion below and remember to listen to the Illegal radio show every Wednesday night from 8-9 PM CST on 92.9 KICK FM in Winnipeg or at