Caleb Jones came along to watch his big brother Seth Jones on draft day in 2013 in Newark, N.J. The Jones family waited anxiously until the highly prized prospect was taken fourth overall by the Nashville Predators.
The Nashville Predators’ loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs became America’s gain this week when defenseman Seth Jones joined the U.S. Men’s National team that will compete in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.
Jones, 20, adds a wealth of international experience to a young U.S. team that’s set to compete in the 16-nation tournament which runs May 1-17 in Ostrava and Prague, Czech Republic.
He’s a three-time IIHF gold medalist, having helped the U.S. to the top prize at the 2011 and 2012 IIHF Under-18 World Championships and the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Jones, son of former National Basketball Association star Popeye Jones, also skated for Team U.S.A. in the 2014 IIHF World Championship and made the tournament’s All-Star team. He was also named best defenseman by the tournament’s directorate.
The U.S. team begins its 2015 quest for the gold May 1 against Finland, a game in which Jones could face goaltender Pekka Rinne, a Nashville teammate. Rinne was the 2014 tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The 2015 U.S.A.-Finland game will be aired live on cable’s NBCSN at 10 a.m. All of the American squad’s games will be live-streamed for mobile devices, desktops and tablets via NBC Sports Live Extra.
The fourth player taken in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones appeared in all 82 games for the Predators during the 2014-15 regular season. He tallied eight goals and 19 assists and had a plus/minus of plus-3.
He played in all six of the Pred’s first-round playoff games against the Chicago Blackhawks. He had no goals, four assists and was a minus-6. The Blackhawks eliminated the Predators four games to two.
But rather than go home to Plano, Texas, at the end of his National Hockey League season, Jones decided to head to the Czech Republic. He joins other NHLers who are skating for their countries after their teams either failed to qualify for the playoffs or were eliminated in the first round.
The U.S. roster is a mix of NHLers, American Hockey League players, and NCAA Division I college players including Boston University forward Jack Eichel, likely to be taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the second pick in the 2015 NHL Draft June 26-27.
NHL players joining Jones on the American squad includes forward Nick Bonino of the Vancouver Canucks, defenseman Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, and defenseman Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Portland Winterhawks center Keegan Iverson was among 42 players invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, an audition for a spot on the American team that will compete in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
The one-week evaluation camp takes place August 2-9 in Lake Placid, N.Y. The world juniors, a showcase of future National Hockey
League talent, is Dec. 26, 2014 to Jan. 5, 2015 in Montreal and Toronto. USA Hockey officials invited Iverson to the evaluation camp two days ago.
“I was really excited to find out I have an opportunity to play for Team USA again,” said Iverson, a St. Louis Park, Minn., resident who skated for the U.S, Under-17 national team in 2012-13.
He drew the attention of USA Hockey officials with an excellent 2013-14 season with the Western Hockey League Winterhawks, tallying 22 goals, 20 assists and 70 penalty minutes in 67 games. Iverson, an alum of Canada’s Skillz Black Aces youth hockey teams, will have familiar faces around him at the U.S. evaluation camp. Three other Winterhawks – goaltender Brendan Burke and forwards Chase De Leo and Dominic Turgeon – are also auditioning in Lake Placid to audition for spots on the U.S. squad.
“The evaluation camp is an important step as the players try to earn spots on the U.S. World Junior Team,” Portland Winterhawks General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston said. “I am confident all four players will have strong showings and make positive impressions at the camp.”
The Winterhawks have been a talent incubator of sorts for junior championship teams. USA. Former Portland defenseman Seth Jones, who completed his rookie season with the Nashville Predators last April, played on 2011, 2012 and 2013 U.S. national junior squads. Winterhawks defenseman Mathew Dumba, the seventh overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft by the Minnesota Wild, played for Canada in the 2014 world juniors.
Iverson’s evaluation camp invite is part of what’s shaping up to be an excellent summer for him. Next weekend,
he’ll be glued to the television waiting to see which team selects him in the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia. He’s ranked as the 85th-best North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service.
Iverson said watching the draft at home may be nerve-racking, but it’ll be a breeze compared to going through the grueling NHL Combine strength and endurance camp in Toronto last month.
“At the Combine, my teammates told me to be myself and everything will go well,” Iverson told reporter Lesley Dawson. “As for the draft process, they told me to be excited for when my name gets called, and be ready to work after.”
Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones’ rookie National Hockey League season is over, with the Preds failing to make the playoffs, but his hockey year is far from being done.
Jones was among the first 15 players named Tuesday to the U.S. Men’s National Team that will play in the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. Jones, the fourth player selected in the 2013 NHL Draft, played in 77 games for the Predators and tallied six goals and 19 assists. He averaged 19:37 minutes on ice per game.
Jones adds a wealth of international experience to the U.S. squad, having played for U.S. national development teams since 2010-11. He was a member of U.S. junior teams that won Gold Medals in 2013, 2012, and 2011. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones was invited to the 2014 U.S. men’s hockey team’s pre-Olympic orientation camp last summer, the only invitee who hadn’t played in an NHL game.
He didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team but USA Hockey officials made it clear that Jones is definitely on their radar for the 2016 Winter Olympics, if the NHL sends its players to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In the meantime, playing in the 2014 Worlds will mean that Jones will postpone rest for what already has been a long hockey period for him. He started the 2012-13 season with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks, then played in the Junior World Championship, then returned to the Winterhawks for hockey’s Memorial Cup championship. He took about two-three weeks off between the time the Winterawks lost to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads in the Memorial Cup final and the 2013 NHL Draft. “It definitely felt like a 12-year – er, 12 month season,” Jones said at the pre-Olympic orientation camp.
Jones could be a vital cog in USA Hockey rebuilding its national team after an American squad filled with NHL players failed to medal at
the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. That team was led by Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma. USA Hockey
Tuesday named former Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette the bench boss of the 2014 men’s national team.
Laviolette served as an assistant coach in Sochi. Laviolette and his players will look to avenge the poor U.S. performance in Sochi and
improve upon the Bronze Medal the Americans won at the 2013 Worlds played in Helsinki and Stockholm last May.
The other players named to the team Tuesday were New York Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan; Torontoa Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner; Florida Panthers forward Jimmy Hayes; Boston College forward Kevin Hayes; goaltender Connor Hellebuyck of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe; forward Peter Mueller of Switzerland’s Kloten Flyers; New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry; Florida Panthers forward Drew Shore; Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith; forward Tim Stapleton of the AK Bars Kazan of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League; Florida Panthers forward Vince Trocheck; and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba.
The rest of the U.S. roster could be filled later with NHL players whose teams didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs or are eliminated in the early rounds.
They share a heritage, they share a team, and two of them share a line. But Everett Silvertips forwards Jujhar Khaira, Manraj Hayer and Tyler Sandhu have something else in common: undeniable talent.
The three Vancouver-area players are among the top seven in scoring on their Western Hockey League major junior team. Their scoring numbers jump off the stat sheets, but the trio also opens eyes because they are among a small but steadily growing number of Indian players who are helping change the color of hockey.
“Kids have kind of seen us in the WHL and see players go into the AHL and NHL and they’re kind of taking note that it can be done,” said Hayer, 20, who was fourth on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 17 assists in 33 games before being sidelined by a concussion. “Lately, lots of East Indian kids have started to play hockey. Little kids have come up to me and said ‘I’ve seen you play and I want to follow in your footsteps.’ That’s kind of cool.”
Sandhu, who plays on a line with Hayer, seconded his teammate’s “cool.” “It’s exciting and an honor to have kids look up to you as you looked up to older players,” said Sandhu, 18, who is fifth on the Silvertips with 13 goals and 14 assists in 40 games. “For our culture, it feels good to be able to be part of a lot kids’ development in how they look at hockey and how they dream about playing as well. For me, it’s a dream of mine to play in the NHL and I just hope kids in my culture have that dream as well.”
Carolina Hurricanes center Manny Malhotra is currently the only Indo-Canadian player in the National Hockey League. But a next generation of players could be on the way in the near future, fueled by an interest in hockey that’s grown so large within Canada’s South Asia community that CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” airs broadcasts in Punjabi.
“This broadcast has really helped the Punjabi community to connect with the sport,” Harbs Bains, president of the Surrey (British Columbia) Minor Hockey Association, told The New York Times last April. “It allows someone whose first language is not English to connect with the sport and between generations.”
Hockey is even slowly gaining a foothold in cricket-crazed India. A member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1989, the country of more than 1.2 billion people has more than 900 hockey players. In March 2012, India captured its first international ice hockey victory, a 5-1 over Macau at the IIHF’s Challenge Cup of Asia tournament.
Hayer, 20, began playing hockey as a child because his older brother did. But Hayer never played with another Indian player in a game until Silvertips Head Coach and former NHL bench boss Kevin Constantine put him on a line with Sandhu in Everett two seasons ago.
“It’s been a different experience, I’ve never played with another East Indian player my whole life on any of my teams,” he told me recently. “It’s kind of cool just to be playing on his line. I think it kind of makes history – I don’t think it’s ever been done before, so it’s kind of cool.”
Hayer, Sandhu and Khaira were brought together in Everett, a city of 104,000 about 30 miles north of Seattle, by coincidence. Sandhu was among four prospects the Silvertips obtained in a May 2012 trade with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks in exchange for the rights to defenseman Seth Jones. Jones, a Nashville Predators rookie this season, was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Khaira, who’s seventh on the Silvertips in scoring with 10 goals and 11 assists in 30 games, played 37 games for Michigan Tech during the 2012-13 season. He exited college with three years of NCAA eligibility left after signing with the Oilers. He came to the Silvertips in a May 2012 trade from the WHL’s Prince George Cougars
“It was a lot of fun, it was probably one of the best years of my life,” Khaira said of his time at Tech. “The style of play is completely different. In college, you’re playing against older guys who are 23-24 years old and here you’re playing against guys who are 16, 17 so there’s a big difference in age.”
As for his future with the Oilers, the 19-year-old said “I’m going to focus on this season and develop my game as best as possible, and then try to make an impression at (the Oilers) camp next year and see where it goes from there.”
Hayer was scouted and signed by the Silvertips in the 2010-11 season.
The three have never played on a line together during a WHL game, but have during practices. Would they like to join the ranks of the 1970s Buffalo Sabres all-French-Canadian “French Connection” led by Gilbert Perreault ,” the Boston Bruins’ German-Canadian “Kraut Line” of the 1940s that featured Milt Schmidt, or the famed “Black Aces,” an all-black minor league line in the 1940s headlined by Herb Carnegie?
“It would be cool, but at the same time Kevin Constantine knows what he’s doing and what he needs in a line,” Khaira said. “So I’m really confident in him and what he has for us.”
He had a good run and turned a lot of heads, but defenseman Darnell Nurse was cut from the Edmonton Oilers training camp Tuesday night and returned to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, his junior team.
Nurse, the seventh pick in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft, was reassigned shortly after the Oilers’ 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers in Edmonton Tuesday night.
The 18-year-old nephew of retired Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn’t expected to make the Oilers when training camp started. But he turned heads with his sometimes strong and aggressive play, particularly in a preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks last week.
Asked about how he felt when learning he was cut, a downcast Nurse told reporters “it sucks.”
“If anyone tells you it feels good to get cut, they’re lying to you,” he told reporters. “It sucks, there’s nothing fun about it, but they have the best plan for me in my development. I’m going to go back and dominate my league and hope I have an opportunity to play in the World Juniors.”
“I gave everything I had,” Nurse continued. “I came in as prepared as I could be. I was really fueled by the fact that so many people said I wasn’t good enough to keep up at this level. I think I proved a few people wrong over the course of this camp, but I still have a lot of room to grow as a player.”
Of the eight players of color taken in the 2013 draft, only defenseman Seth Jones remains in the training camp of the team that selected him. Jones, the fourth player picked in the draft, looks likely to make the Nashville Predators roster.
With the 2013-14 season set to begin Oct. 1, National Hockey League teams are busy whittling down their training camp rosters, assigning not-quite-ready for prime-time players to the minor leagues or back to their junior teams.
Many of the young players of color taken in the 2013 NHL Draft managed to get a brief taste of NHL life before returning to their junior squads to get more playing time and buy time to grow both physically and mentally.
Jordan Subban enjoyed his training camp time wearing the Vancouver Canucks blue, white and green. But first-year Head Coach John Tortorella felt the 5-foot-9, 177-pound defenseman, the 115th player picked in the draft, could use more seasoning with the Ontario Hockey League’s Bellville Bulls.
“I’ve always said that if I don’t play in the NHL, it won’t be because I’m too small,” said the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban told Metronews.ca earlier this month. “I think that I can definitely use my vision and smarts. I’m not the biggest guy, so I’m not going to be able to muscle a lot of guys off the puck, so just try to think the game maybe a little bit more and make smarter plays.”
The Washington Capitals have high hopes for Madison Bowey – but not for the 2013-14 season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman, the 53rd overall pick in the draft, was sent back to the Western Hockey Leagues Kelowna Rockets.
“Want to thank the @washcaps organization for giving me the opportunity to have an amazing experience at the main camp,” Bowey tweeted on Sept. 15. The next day he pronounced himself ready to go for a new season with the Rockets.
“Great to be back @Kelowna Rockets boys! Misses the fellas,” he tweeted.
When the Buffalo Sabres drafted Justin Bailey, he felt right at home. After all, the right wing from the OHL Kitchener Rangers grew up Williamsville, N.Y. – just a stone’s throw from Buffalo. After a stint in the Sabres camp, Bailey is a Ranger again.
Rght wing Nicholas Baptiste, chosen by the Sabres with the 69th overall pick in the third round of the draft, impressed the Buffalo brain trust at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., earlier this month, registering points in three consecutive games. Still, he’s back with his junior team, the OHL Sudbury Wolves.
Left wing Anthony Duclair impressed the New York Rangers with his speed and skating ability. “REALLY like this kid’s game,” the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard wrote last July in his “Blueshirts Blog” following a Rangers development camp. “Very, very good skater who frequently arrives at the puck on the spot first…He needs to get stronger, but that’s normal for a young prospect who needs to grow and develop physically. He’s shifty, dips out of checks often, too.”
Duclair, taken with the 80th overall pick in the draft’s third round, is a few seasons away from his Broadway debut. The Rangers sent him back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Quebec Remparts where he scored two goals in the first game of the season.
The Nashville Predators someday may boast a twin-towers defense pairing of 6-foot-4, 206-pound Seth Jones and 6-foot-5, 223-pound Jonathan-Ismael Diaby. Jones, drafted fourth overall, is likely to make the Predators and is a longshot to make the U.S. Olympic hockey team that will compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February. The Predators returned Diaby, the 64th pick in the draft’s third round, to the Victoriaville Tigres for another season in the QMJHL.
Meanwhile, defenseman Darnell Nurse is turning heads at the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp. The 18-year-old from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds had an impressive pre-season outing against the Vancouver Canucks recently, playing 23 minutes in a 4-1 Oilers victory. He blocked shots and broke up two-on-one rushes.
“I can’t believe he’s 18 years old,” Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk told the Edmonton Journal. “He has this maturity about him on the ice. I’ve been so impressed with him.”
Still, Nurse, picked 7th in the draft, seems destined to return to the Soo, though Oilers players and coaches can’t stop raving about the good in his game.
“He’s raw and he’s got some steps to take to get to the NHL level, but I have to tell you we’re really happy with what we’ve seen of him so far,” Oilers Assistant Coach Steve Smith told TSN.
New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo spends a lot of time these days waiting- and it never felt so good for the Minnesota native.
Okposo and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child in January. He’s waiting for the Islanders 2015 move from Long Island to suddenly hip downtown Brooklyn and the Barclays Center And he’s waiting to learn whether he’ll make the cut and play for the United States men’s hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Okposo was all smiles Monday as he joined 47 other professional hockey players who were invited to attend USA Hockey’s two-day pre-Olympics orientation camp at the Washington Capitals’ practice facility in Arlington, Va.
“It would be awesome, pretty special to represent my country,” Okposo said. “I’ve represented my country at a lot of different events, but never the Olympics. It was definitely nice to be invited to this camp.”
While he’s waiting for good things, Okposo admits that – to borrow a line from a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song – the waiting is the hardest part when it comes to whether or not he’ll be selected for Sochi.
The final decision on the team won’t be made until the weeks before the Olympics. The U.S. national team, piloted by Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma, will pick talent based on how the invitees to this week camp perform for their NHL or minor league teams in the opening months of the season.
“This is going to be in the back of your mind, the Olympics,” Okposo said. “That being said, what’s going to dictate you being on the team is how you play on the ice for your NHL team. So that has to be your first and foremost thought. You have to play well and do everything for your own team in order to make this one.”
Okposo hopes he’ll have a better start to the upcoming season that he did during the labor dispute-shortened, 48-game, 2012-13 season. Last season, the right wing only registered only 4 goals and 20 assists.
But he turned things around in the second half on the season. He scored three goals and one assists in six games in the Stanley Cup playoffs opening round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders lost the series.
His numbers pale compared to those of Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane, Toronto Maple Leafs forwards James van Reimsdyk and Phil Kessel, and other players invited to the pre-Olympics camp. But he has intangibles that the U.S. national team covets.
Okposo has experience playing on larger ice surfaces like the one in Sochi. Most rinks international rinks are 200-by-100 feet, which increases the importance of skating ability. NHL rinks are 200-by-85 feet. Okposo spent his college career playing on the University of Minnesota’s international-size ice surface.
Both the U.S. and Canada are so concerned about the larger ice surface, which they believe contributed to poor Olympic performances off North American soil, that Canada Head Coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings held ball hockey walkthroughs with his prospective players in Calgary Monday in an arena with a melted international-sized rink surface.
“Skating is magnified more so on the Olympic sheet. To have a team that can move is definitely going to be a factor,” Okposo said. “All the guys in the NHL are going to have an adjustment the first time they get on (international-sized) ice.”
Defenseman Seth Jones, who the Nashville Predators selected with the fourth pick in June’s NHL draft, has experience on the big rink from playing on the U.S. junior national team that won the gold medal at the 2013 World Championship last December in Ufa, Russia.
Though he’s yet to play a minute in the NHL, Jones said he’s setting his sights on Sochi.
“It feels unbelievable to be invited here with all these great players and being thought of in the same category with some of these guys,” Jones said. “Obviously there are a lot of great defenseman here and they’re very deep, but we’ll see. I’ve got to make Nashville first, and I’ll have to have a pretty good start to the year to make it. But that’s definitely my goal.”
Brian Burke, the U.S. national team’s director of player personnel and former general manager of the Maple Leafs, said it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for Jones to wear the U.S. red, white and blue come February.
“It might be a steep hill for Seth, but he’s always exceeded expectations to this point and I can see him doing it again very easily,” Burke said.
Jones, a Plano, Texas, native said he has to factor in earning an Olympics slot while adjusting to the NHL and its grueling 82-game season. He estimated that he logged 94 or 95 games during the 2012-13 season playing major juniors for the Canadian Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks, playing in Russia with the U.S. junior national team, and playing for Portland in the Memorial Cup final.
He said he “didn’t do anything for two weeks or three weeks, maybe,” after the Winterhawks lost to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads in the final.
“It definitely felt like a 12-year – er, 12-month season this year. It’s definitely a big step, but I think I’m capable of making it this year.”
One of Jones’ competitors for a defense spot on Team USA is Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets. For him, making the U.S. team and winning a Gold Medal would be a trifecta. He’s already been named an NHL All-Star and won a Stanley Cup in the 2009-10 season with the Blackhawks.
Byfuglien – a massive man with a massive slap shot, nimble skating ability, and the skill to play either defense or left wing – beamed when asked about the possibility of playing for the U.S. hockey team.
“It would mean a lot to me and my family just to get the opportunity to go over there and be part of the Olympics,” Byfuglien, a Minnesota native. “This is a fun thing to be part of. Any time you can put on a U.S. jersey and represent your country it means a lot.
Burke called Byfuglien a potential game-changing force on the ice.
“He can play forward, he can play defense, he’s got a cannon for a shot,” Burke told me. “On the big ice, is he the answer? I don’t know that depends on how he plays and on the coaches. But the one thing he can do is change the game.”
The main goal of a television commercial is to inspire – inspire the viewer to buy the product being advertised.
I don’t know how Coca-Cola’s Powerade is doing in its battle for supremacy against Gatorade and the rest of the crowded sports drink field. But whether it translated into additional sales or not, Powerade certainly succeeded in generating a lot of buzz in the hockey world with an ad campaign it in unveiled last March.
In the 31-second spot, cameras quick-cut to athletes seemingly cast against type: a smallish basketball player driving to the hoop through a field of giants; a slow defensive football player on a search-and-destroy mission for someone to hit; a female wrestler preparing to do battle; a black hockey player skating with his teammates.
The basketball player starts the conversation: “I know what you think you’re looking at,” he says. “Someone who’s too small?”
“Too slow,” the football player continues.
“Not in the right sport?” the black hockey player asks.
“In the wrong body?’ the woman wrestler says.
The hockey player’s presence and speaking lines struck a chord on the Internet and at ice rinks. Many viewers and hockey players of color saw it as an “Aha” moment, a recognition by the mainstream media – or at least Madison Avenue (actually, a Portland, Ore., advertising firm developed the ad) – of the growth of minority participation and interest in hockey.
“Perhaps through market research and focus groups, the ad people have seen the future and it looks like (Seth) Jones,” writer Joe Lapointe penned in The Toronto Globe and Mail, referring to the Nashville Predators’ first-round draft pick. Jones was taken fourth overall in the NHL draft last month, the highest an Afircan-American player has ever been chosen.
Some people expressed racial discomfort with the ad. And some less enlightened folks – practitioners of “keyboard courage,” to borrow a phrase from Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis – took to the Internet and Twitter to crudely proclaim the ad a fraud. After all, black people don’t play hockey, several tweets and blog posts insisted in much stronger language.
“Hockey’s own Jackie Robinson impersonator,” was one of the few printable takes from a review of the ad from the web site castefootball.us.
The ad provoked a lot of thought and generated a lot of talk. Just what the people at Coca-Cola, the maker of Powerade, had hoped for.
“In this campaign, Powerade confronts those preconceptions and challenges the conventional wisdom that your size, your gender or the color of your skin defines what sports you get to succeed in,” Lauren Thompson, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman told me recently in an email Q&A about the ad. “The hockey scene within the spot helped tell this story. We believe the campaign to be inspirational and celebratory of all those who power through adversity, shatter stereotypes, and disprove pre-conceived notions.”
Thompson said the commercial was shot at an ice rink in Los Angeles, home of the then-Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, with actors who had the on-ice skills to keep it real.
“We were looking for authenticity from all the cast members, and we were particularly impressed with his skating,” Thompson said of the unnamed actor in the hockey scene. “Yes, he does play hockey.”
When the ad premiered last March, Coca-Cola officials were encouraged by the initial response to it
“When we posted the campaign online we saw a lot of likes and shares,” Thompson said. “We wanted to disrupt the status quo, and we believe we accomplished that with this campaign.”