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2010 Stanley Cup finals: History will be made controversy?

Jun 8, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

Say what you will about the NHL’s marketing efforts in the past, it’s pretty easy to say that the series of “History Will Be Made” spots the league has crafted before and throughout the playoffs have been, for the most part, poignant and well thought out.  Much like all things, however, there comes a moment where you wonder if perhaps the ad wizards in charge of everything have gotten a bit carried away and pulled a Fonz and went water skiing with it.

Enter the latest spot from the NHL featuring Dustin Byfuglien and Chris Pronger asking “What if the Blackhawks couldn’t be bullied?”

Never mind the question the spot asks since Game 5 was the only game in the finals where we really saw the Blackhawks get physical right back with the Flyers. How about the NHL giving some folks the idea (read: crazy conspiracy theorists and/or Flyers fans) that the league is openly rooting for the Blackhawks? And we bet you thought all the tinfoil hat talk went away with the Red Wings… Ha!

So what do you think dear readers? Is the league taking sides here or is this just an example of a great ad campaign going over the top?

  1. Jay - Jun 8, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    As a Flyers fan it doesn’t really bother me because it sounds as if the Blackhawks got bullied but what if they hadn’t?. More, I just wish the NHL wouldn’t create these until after the series is over. During a series going on they just seem out of place (like “What if Flower didn’t come up roses?” midway through the Pens-Habs series). They should create new ones only after a series is over.
    As for the Flyers, obviously the league is rooting for the blackhawks because ESPN loves to show one of their big 5 cities celebrating and hates on Philly, but I doubt they’re actually interfering with the outcome of the games.

  2. Kevin - Jun 8, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    @Jay
    But if they waited until after the series to do these spots… wouldn’t that defeat the entire purpose of advertising?

  3. Quisp - Jun 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    The ad says, “what if the black hawks could [not couldn't] be bullied?”
    Let’s walk through the logic of these ads (which I think are pretty stupid anyway).
    What if Bobby didn’t fly? Unspoken obvious answer: well, that would have sucked.
    What if Messier didn’t lift an entire city? Unspoken obvious answer: well, that would have sucked (for New York, anyway.)
    What if Bourque didn’t believe in one more year? Unspoken obvious answer: well, that would have sucked (for him, anyway.)
    So, by extension, “what if chicago could be bullied” is answered with “that would have sucked.”
    but it’s not exactly rooting for Chicago any more than the Bourque ad is rooting for Colorado. In all of these cases, the ad (i.e. the league) is rooting for a good story, which you will miss out on if you don’t watch. Byfuglien crushing Pronger doesn’t rise to the level of Bobby Orr scoring that goal, but it’s the story the NHL is selling right now. Of course, if PHI comes back and wins, then that narrative is replaced by Chris Pronger Conn Smythe. But the ad doesn’t care. It’s just trying to elevate various moments, current and past, to “historic.” In other words, it’s happening right now and you’re missing it.
    I happen to think the Bourque thing is equally suspect. That’s not historic. It’s just a feel-good moment, because the league and the pundits tell you it is. It didn’t especially make me feel good.
    Anyway, the point of the ads is, you’re missing history in the making. Is it true?
    I doubt it. It’s a good series though.

  4. Navarra - Jun 8, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    The whole idea of being bullied is that whoever gets bullied lays down/avoids conflict, and lets the bully get the upper hand.
    Chicago came out on Sunday and stated pretty loudly that they’re tired of that crap and that they’re in this to win this, not to put up with bullying. People might love an underdog, but the reason they love underdogs is that they stand up and succeed against bullies.
    So you can take this ad either way. Philly has been called the underdog leading up to this series; but with games 3 & 4 made themselves look like the bullies. And of course, the whole play on words of the Philly nickname of the “Broad Street Bullies”.
    Blackhawks fans weren’t the only ones completely delighted to watch Byfuglien lay out Pronger like that.

  5. Jay - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    @Kevin- so show the HWBM commercials from the playoffs regarding these two teams. Just not the current series

  6. Mike E - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    The comment says what if the Hawk’s couldn’t be bullied, Implying that they have been to this point. I would think this would be a Pro-Pronger ad showing that he is responsible for the Hawks not winning games 3&4. I’m a Hawks fan and agree with Flyer fan Jay, don’t do these until the series is over. They could be running what if’s from the Chi-San Jose or Philly-Montreal series now.
    I disagree with ESPN loving Chicago. ESPN in the midwest stands for Eastern Seaboard Propaganda Network. Lead with the Yankees(even in December), give us an update on Curt Shililng’s bloody sock (still bloody) and then tell us whats going on in the person lives of Jeter, A-Rod and Tom Brady(who cares).

  7. JK, PA - Jun 8, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    Kevin,
    I agree with both you and Jay. The ads are a great way to highlight the often-forgotten NHL finals, compared to other Spring sporting events (see: Lakers-Celtics). And, I agree with Jay that there may be a bit more hype for the Hawks, due to their awesome season, compared to the Flyers up-down and back up again one.
    As a staunch Flyers fan (since the Broad Street Bullies days), I really hope these guys can bring the cup back to Philly, once again. Although, just the prospect of a 7-game series would be fantastic. In the end, both teams are playing a spectacular series, albeit the Flyers tanked game 6. Actually, ‘m just thrilled to have seen both detroit and Pittsburgh fall flat earlier on.
    Here’s to a great 7-game stretch for two hard working teams, and two wonderful cities and respective fans. The team that falls short this year can feel proud of their efforts.

  8. JK, PA - Jun 8, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    WHOOPS!! Typo . . .Flyers tanked game 5! Hope this isn’t a bad omen. LOL Good day, all.

  9. JK, PA - Jun 8, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    One more thought. IF the Flyers can pull this cup win off, maybe we should refer to this team as the “Broad Street Bouncers”, seeing that they continually bounced back from being down throughout the playoffs. Just an idea.

  10. peepsaf - Jun 8, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    late comment on this.
    I’m not so sure this was the NHL doing it. Blackhawks.com had a similar spin off of the commercial during the Preds series when Hossa took the huge boarding major into OT and won it when he came out of the box. It was something like, “What if the Blackhawks didn’t kill the 5 minute major?” Blah Blah Blah stanley cup playoffs. I never saw it anywhere else but Blackhawks.com

  11. peepsaf - Jun 8, 2010 at 11:55 PM

    My bad- the video IS on nhl.com
    Your bad- they have like 30 from these playoffs alone for all teams

  12. Dutchboy - Jun 9, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    These are great ads! In all of life one moment can change everything and create a trajectory one never imagined. What if Philly had not won the reg season OT? Any of the goals in the finals one goal games. Each moment, each action really matters.
    What a great message for the NHL, but also on the stage of life.
    You can be cynical and blow that off but would only make a statement about your own superficiality by doing so.

  13. Roy - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    A CHICAGO CONSPIRACY THEORY
    FIRST, BARACK OBAMA, A BLACK CHICAGO POLITICIAN FROM HAWAII, BORN IN 1961, IS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN 2008, THEN IN 2010 THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS WIN THEIR FOURTH STANLEY CUP IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, BUT THEIR FIRST SINCE 1961, THE YEAR OF BARACK OBAMA’S BIRTH, AND THEN, CHICAGO THE BAND IS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME SOMETIME DURING BARACK OBAMA’S EIGHT YEARS/TWO TERMS AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
    BARACK OBAMA IS BLACK AND HE IS FROM CHICAGO.
    THE CHICAGO NHL TEAM IS CALLED THE BLACKHAWKS.
    CHICAGO THE BAND PLAYS THE MUSIC OF BLACK PEOPLE.
    THIS YEAR, DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN (PRONOUNCED BUFFLIN) WILL BECOME THE FIRST BLACK GOAL SCORER AND FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN IN NHL HISTORY TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP AND HE WILL DO IT DURING A BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENCY. GRANT FUHR WAS THE FIRST BLACK GOALTENDER AND FIRST BLACK HOCKEY PLAYER PERIOD TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP AND HE DID IT FIVE TIMES WITH THE EDMONTON OILERS BETWEEN 1984 AND 1990, BUT GRANT FUHR WAS CANADIAN.

  14. scott - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    If there is a conspiracy theory, someone forgot to tell the referees. There have been 22 minor penalties on the Hawks and only 14 on the Flyers. How many times has Pronger got away with obvious cross-checks that every other player on the ice(Flyer or Blackhawk) would get called for. Please spare me the conspiracy theories. If you want terrible calls, and the league influencing games, watch the NBA.

  15. Realist - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    Guess who facilitated that?

  16. Realist - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    Also, the tilting of the ice is done with precision un-detectable by the untrained or unwilling seeing eye. Which are you?

  17. Realist - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    Detroit fell flat?…maybe u should take a 2nd look at the slanted ice during that series. I’d think u could see that just as Philly was screwed last year to push Pittsburg through so bettmans golden boy of the moment could hoist, Detroit was screwed as well. bettman knows that Detroit has a strong fan base, so if they r to win, they must beat the team they r playing along with the leauge. Nothing to lose as tickets will still sell. Just look at the sour puss face he has when giving them the cup, compared to the happy, I just lost my virginity look, he has when presenting it to Pittsburgh. If the cheating was anymore obvious, a child could pick up on it. The NHL is turning into a WWF, which is more than sad, it will eventually catch up with them. Unfortunatly, when it does, bettmen will have retired or moved on or whatever hole he crawls into next, with increased numbers as his claim to fame. The next leader will bare the blame of declining numbers even though it was directly bettmans fault. He is the Devil Bobby Boucher!

  18. Realist - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    Detroit fell flat?…maybe u should take a 2nd look at the slanted ice during that series. I’d think u could see that just as Philly was screwed last year to push Pittsburg through so bettmans golden boy of the moment could hoist, Detroit was screwed as well. bettman knows that Detroit has a strong fan base, so if they r to win, they must beat the team they r playing along with the leauge. Nothing to lose as tickets will still sell. Just look at the sour puss face he has when giving them the cup, compared to the happy, I just lost my virginity look, he has when presenting it to Pittsburgh. If the cheating was anymore obvious, a child could pick up on it. The NHL is turning into a WWF, which is more than sad, it will eventually catch up with them. Unfortunatly, when it does, bettmen will have retired or moved on or whatever hole he crawls into next, with increased numbers as his claim to fame. The next leader will bare the blame of declining numbers even though it was directly bettmans fault. He is the Devil Bobby Boucher!

  19. John From Chicago - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    I love these commercials. Being new to hockey it gives me a little history of the game. After I see these commercials I have to say that after this year hockey may be my fav sport. I have attended a few Hawks games in the past, but now I really have more of a passion and respect for the game. Hockey and soccer (not US) are the only sport where you really have a true emotional attachment. I think whom ever came up withe the idea really hit it on the money and I can not wait until they make the one about Kane score the game winner. GO HAWKS!!!! From a new fan on his way to becoming a diehard.

  20. Roy - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    A CHICAGO CONSPIRACY THEORY
    FIRST, BARACK OBAMA, A BLACK CHICAGO POLITICIAN FROM HAWAII, BORN IN 1961, IS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN 2008, THEN IN 2010 THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS WIN THEIR FOURTH STANLEY CUP IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, BUT THEIR FIRST SINCE 1961, THE YEAR OF BARACK OBAMA’S BIRTH, AND THEN, CHICAGO THE BAND IS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME SOMETIME DURING BARACK OBAMA’S EIGHT YEARS/TWO TERMS AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
    BARACK OBAMA IS BLACK AND HE IS FROM CHICAGO.
    THE CHICAGO NHL TEAM IS CALLED THE BLACKHAWKS.
    CHICAGO THE BAND PLAYS THE MUSIC OF BLACK PEOPLE.
    THIS YEAR, DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN (PRONOUNCED BUFFLIN) BECAME THE FIRST BLACK GOAL SCORER AND FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN IN NHL HISTORY TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP AND HE DID IT DURING A BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENCY. GRANT FUHR WAS THE FIRST BLACK GOALTENDER AND FIRST BLACK HOCKEY PLAYER PERIOD TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP AND HE DID IT FIVE TIMES WITH THE EDMONTON OILERS BETWEEN 1984 AND 1990, BUT GRANT FUHR WAS CANADIAN. WAYNE GRETZKY, WHO WAS GRANT FUHR’S TEAMMATE ON THE EDMONTON OILERS, WAS BORN IN 1961, THE SAME YEAR AS BARACK OBAMA, AND WHEN HE RETIRED HE HELD 61 NHL RECORDS.

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