Right on time for a world junior championship in the midst of the NHL's soul-sucking, self-immolating lockout comes a commercial that might strike Canadians like a Gordie Howe elbow in the abdominal region.
Winnipeg Jets first-round pick Mark Scheifele — "what are ya gonna do, take my stick away?" — is among the Canadian hockey personalities in Nike's new 'Hockey Is Ours' ad campaign. It's been online for a while, but much of Canada experienced the full gamut of it on Thursday during Team Canada's first exhibition game against Finland.
National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and 30 owners decide where and when the top tier of the pro hockey is played. Sweden, Russia and the U.S. have also won the past three IIHF world U20 championships, a trend Canada is out to change when the tournament opens Boxing Day in Ufa, Russia. Forgive, us, though, for taking ownership of the sport when the business of the sport has stumbled so badly.
Using frozen hamburgers as pucks? Never thought of it. There is a who's-who of players who have helped bring Canada hockey glory, including Ontario Hockey League alumni P.K. Subban and Steven Stamkos, who played for the Belleville Bulls and Sarnia Sting respectively before taking the big stage. Tessa Bonhomme, the standout forward who will help Canada try to defend its world women's hockey title against the Americans this spring at the IIHF championship in Ottawa, also stars.
(Stamkos is shown holding up the spoils of a day spent ice-fishing, although one wonders when he had time to do that in reality while he was chasing his hockey dream, becoming a first overall pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning and having a 60-goal season.)
Quibbles and questions about a multinational such as Nike packaging Canadiana and selling it back to us, it's very evocative of what we purport to be. Ultimately, it's just one more reminder of how badly the country thinks it needs to see 22 teenagers win the gold in Ufa on Jan. 5.