The National Hockey League kicked off its 101st season on Wednesday with the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins seeking a three-peat . Knowing whether that happens is a long way away, but adidas is ready to get people excited about hockey.
Adidas is kicking off its first season as a major sponsor of the league, outfitting it with new jerseys and getting to know some of the sports’ superstars along the way.
On Thursday, it also kicked off its “What If…” series of ads, asking fans to consider some of the game’s greats and how they take what they’ve learned off the ice to create amazing moments on skates. Adidas put together San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid as they hone their skills in unique ways.
Brent Burns is the star of the spot, all hair and toothless smile. He shoots at a net over a swimming pool, while Seguin tools around with a lacrosse stick. And McDavid’s inclusion is interesting because he might be one of the quietest superstars in sports today. He won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies for league MVP and most points, respectively, and led the Oilers to the postseason in his second year with the team. McDavid is special, a truly marvelous player who routinely makes the extraordinary look normal.
He showed exactly that on opening night, by the way. McDavid scored a natural hat trick in a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. The second goal of the game was the true high point. McDavid picked up a loose puck in the Edmonton zone and took off, racing past two defenders hopelessly out of position and chipping the puck past by Flames goaltender Mike Smith.
Look at how fast McDavid is going, and how he flips the switch on that speed so quickly that two defenders who thought they were in position to defend a transition suddenly look like they’re coming off the bench on a change. There might not be another player in the game that can do that, and McDavid made it look downright ordinary on Wednesday.
The marketing angle adidas has here is that these skills can come from unexpected places. And it’s a perfect way to get people to take notice of the amazing hidden in hockey. If you look closely, the moments are spectacular.