EA recently unveiled a fantastic new commercial for their latest game NHL 13 simply titled "Our Game". The 1-minute spot shows off some of the best parts of the sport we love, from the physical side to the beauty of Evgeni Malkin making defenders look silly.
Unfortunately, the ad's tagline of "Our Game" is loaded with irony given the current state of the NHL.
First, let's all congratulate EA on making an amazing commercial that shows off what truly makes hockey special. From the line about beauty featuring Dustin Brown hoisting the Cup to the line about ringing in the New Year set to images of the Winter Classic, EA's ad does a great job of illustrating our love for the frozen game. If you view this ad with blinders you could easily make an argument that this is one of the best video game ads we have seen in recent memory.
Unfortunately, hockey fans aren't oblivious to the current state of the NHL. A lockout looks imminent as owners and players struggle to find common ground. This has left fans in a state of limbo, feeling used and under appreciated by the owners and Gary Bettman. Bettman's comments about the fans and the fact they would all return in droves after a lockout gave off a foul odor. This might be the time that hockey has felt like it belongs to the fans the least. Rarely have fans of a sport felt more helpless.
EA's commercial can't help but inspire feelings of anger about the looming lockout. We, the fans, provide the revenue for the owners and players by tuning in, attending games and by purchasing team merchandise. As a result, we feel that the sport belongs to us as a whole, in a sense. However, as other writers around the blogosphere have pointed out, there is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent a lockout. Simply, this is not our game. This game is controlled by the owners and the players while the fans are left quite literally on the sidelines.
The timing is rather unfortunate for EA. If they would have produced this commercial during a year that wasn't marred by CBA negotiations the ad would conjure up emotions of pride and happiness but instead it's tough not to feel resentment. We'd like to take the time to enjoy the mostly moving commercial that EA churned out but we can't help but feel like the whole thing is just a bit too ironic and a bit too phony given the current state hockey fans find themselves in.