Sun Feb 20 04:58pm EST
CALGARY, Alberta -- Petros Bourodemous and his 11-year-old son (not pictured) are from Vancouver Island, and found themselves at the 2011 Heritage Classic thanks to a holiday ticket surprise from mom.
"It's great. The atmosphere is beautiful and it's been really fun," said Bourodemous, standing outside McMahon Stadium.
OK, to be exact, he was standing outside the Reebok pavilion, which was steps away from the XM Radio tent, which was overshadowed by the Canadian Tire experience, which featured fans drinking their free Tim Hortons coffee.
Like any big event, the Heritage Classic is an orgy of commerce in the "Spectator Plaza" section, which featured live music and $6.25 Budweisers and fans spending up to 20 minutes to get inside a cramped official merchandise store.
It was like watching all the commercials at the Super Bowl come to life: Every business had its gimmick, and some worked better than others.
So in the spirit of Bowl commercials, here are the grades and a few photos from the Heritage Classic fan fest kiosks.
Tim Hortons: Large trailer giving away free small coffees on a day where the windchill will drop us to minus-22 Celsius. In other words: God's work. Grade: B+
Scotiabank: Green-screen postcards to commemorate the event, and the chance to guess "What's in the Tin?", a memory game in which you can win Flames tickets and Iginla jerseys. Way too close to the beer trailer for this level of cognitive expertise. Grade: C+
Huggies: As part of the Hockey for Huggies program, a place to donate diapers and text donations during the game. Grade: N/A. What kind of soulless bastards do you think we are?
Pepsi Max: No games, no gimmicks. Just shot-glass sized samples of Pespi Max handed out by lovely ladies. About as much distinct charm as those Chinese food kiosks in the mall that hand out samples of chicken on toothpicks. Grade: D
Reebok: There was a long line outside of the Reebok ZigTech tent, and one peek inside revealed why -- the chance to take shots on "Sidney Crosby's dryer." (Sadly, no digital avatar of Max Talbot(notes) to talk smack.) They also had locker mock-ups for the Habs and Flames. Grade: A.
XM Radio: Another shooting game, this one modeled after the shot accuracy skills competition, with little black XM discs in the corners. Coolness. Grade: B+
Canadian Tire: The best of the lot, because they had the most to offer. Everyone on the grounds the red foam hockey helmets they were handing out (modeled above). They had handwarmers. They had water bottles. They had "create your own hockey card" for the event. And just to make sure there wasn't another booth within a country mile of them ... they had a "grab the flying money" glass box. Grade A+
Bridgestone Tire: Another shooting game, this time putting a puck through a tire. Look, if they're not putting a pigskin into a hockey net at the Pro Bowl, we shouldn't be stealing their gimmicks, either. Grade: C.
BlackBerry: A chance to have your photo taken with your face on Bobby Orr's body during his famous leaping goal. Which has about as much to do with the Heritage Classic as a Speedo, and attracted a rather humble crowd. Grade: C
Icebreakers: Good-looking ladies, handing out Frost gum in all-white outfits. Just in case your mouth gets too warm during the game. Grade: C
Cisco: You can stuff your shooting competitions in a sack, mister. Cisco gave the Heritage Classic four beautiful air hockey tables on which to vanquish your friends. One demerit for not being bubble hockey. Grade: B+
Budweiser: Broads, $6.25 booze and a cover band that played "Sweet Child o' Mine" twice in the same hour. Which isn't a bad thing. Still can't get over Bud being a primary sponsor of a Canadian outdoor hockey game. Grade: B+