You won’t find this commercial on this list, because Kolzig is awesome.
Big-name athletes, like actors, are celebrities. As celebrities, they’re often asked to appear in commercials, either to endorse products or promote their team and their league. Unlike actors, however, the vast majority of them cannot act. At all. This is particularly true of NHL players, most of whom have their personalities surgically removed in Junior and are confused by any dialogue that isn’t “It’s good to get the two points” and “We have to play a full 60 minutes.”
Most directors realize this and either give NHL players a great concept that doesn’t require good acting (Daniel and Henrik Sedin as dancing Swedish twins) or hire Alex Ovechkin and give him no material to work with (Ovechkin for Eastern Motors) and end up with a great (or “great” in the case of Eastern Motors) commercial.
Some directors, however, haven’t figured this out and actually ask NHL players to recite dialogue and emote. This is usually a mistake and NHL players have given some of the worst acting performances in the history of commercials. Here are 10 of them. Anybody expecting Adam Oates’s infamous “Loose Rebounds” commercial, look elsewhere: that’s some great acting with some terrible material.
10. Sidney Crosby for Dempster’s Bread
Crosby appears in this commercial for fewer than 2 seconds and still manages to be awful. In that tiny amount of time, Crosby looks back over his shoulder a good two feet above where the overly incredulous child would be and unleashes his cheesiest grin. It’s blatantly obvious to everyone concerned that Crosby has never even been in the same city as this child.
But the worst part comes right at the end of those two seconds, as he finishes his cheesy grin and, I swear, looks directly at the camera.
Side note: it’s remarkable how meta this commercial is, as the entire concept is that if Crosby appeared in ads for Dempster’s Bread, all the kids would want Dempster’s, and sales would skyrocket. It’s incredibly self-congratulatory on the part of the ad executive who came up with this pitch. Here’s the pitch: getting Sidney Crosby in an ad would send sales through the roof. And the guy we get for this campaign? Sidney Crosby.
9. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Gabriel Landeskog for Upper Deck
How bad are these three “young guns” in this commercial? They’re almost as bad as the kid. Don’t quit your day job, kid, which I assume involves reaching into heavy machinery with your tiny hands to clear up blockages. Actually, quit that job, because I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.
There are a couple highlights here, including Landeskog calling winning the Calder Trophy over Nugent-Hopkins. The best part, though, is the two of them arguing over who is the bigger “cheese” without any hint of self-awareness. Then Huberdeau busts out his dance moves. His horribly awkward dance moves. Who does he think he is, Kevin Durant?
8. Max Talbot for A & L Motor Sales
Don’t watch the commercial I embedded above. At least, not until you’ve watched this commercial, which doesn’t allow embedding. In that commercial, Max Talbot is simultaneously incredible and awful. It is one of the best worst performances I have ever seen.
While Colby Armstrong and Sergei Gonchar are stiffer than rigor mortis and Evgeni Malkin is too busy wondering what those crazy sounds are that are coming out of everyone’s mouths, Talbot is looser than a failing high school student’s spelling of “loser.” His combination of a dirty moustache, greasy hair, and jerky dancing to his own soundtrack is both endearing and terrifying.
If you want to see more of Talbot’s special brand of acting, he does a wonderful job enumerating the many services of Valley Pool and Spa.
7. Wayne and Keith Gretzky for 7-Up
This isn’t the worst acting Wayne Gretzky has ever done, but when you add his broth Keith to the mix, it puts it over the top. When it comes to acting, Wayne’s chops are as wooden as Abraham Lincoln’s, and Keith isn’t much better. I love how Keith calls his own brother “Gretzky,” as if to underscore that no one else can ever be called by that name without an asterisk and fine print explaining, “Not the good one.”
Wayne’s emphatic thumb point at his own chest (barely in frame for maximum impact) is hilarious, but the highlight of this commercial is when he actually says “Phew” while wiping his face with a towel. Not the natural expulsion of breathe that would normally follow a hard workout, but the actual word “Phew.”
6. Georges Laraque for TekSavvy
I can’t help but think that TekSavvy should have foregone the celebrity endorsement and hired a professional actor capable of enunciating his words. Actually, that’s not quite fair. Laraques has an accent, but he’s perfectly understandable when he’s not being asked to spit out words faster than Speedy Gonzalez on Speed.
That doesn’t explain the quasi-operatic “singing,” though. Or the bizarre spasms. That’s all on Laraques.
5. Lanny McDonald for Benzing Furs
This one gets on the list purely for Lanny’s sad sack face at the very end of the commercial when his wife, Ardell, lets him know that his moustache has been replaced by her fur coat. No, seriously, that’s what she says.
Up until he pulls that last face, Lanny’s doing a decent job, but then he turns to a camera with a face straight out of an anime. All it’s missing is the giant tear drop.
4. Everyone on the Blackhawks except John Scott for Fresh Wave
This is a legitimately funny commercial and John Scott absolutely owns it. Everyone else in the commercial? Complete deadwood. To be fair, everyone else is just Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith, so it’s a little unfair to lump in the rest of the Blackhawks with those two.
But seriously, John Scott is awesome. Too bad he’s terrible at hockey.
3. Bobby Hull for Log Cabin
“All right, Bobby, let’s keep this simple. I know it sounds stupid, but we’ve decided that ‘Not too’ is our new catchphrase. So say the line, then I’ll ask who you are, and you say your name. Oh, and you better wear your jersey, even though there is no reason for you to be wearing it. Aaaaand…maybe say that you play hockey, just in case people don’t know who you are.”
“Want me to awkwardly pet the kid on the head at the end of the commercial for no reason?”
“What? No! Why would I want you to do that?”
“Well, I’m going to do it anyway. Want to try and stop me? I’m Bobby Hull. I play hockey.”
2. Mario Lemieux for the Mario Lemieux growth chart
I’m not sure whether to blame Mario or the director for having him stare into the kid’s eyes for a full 10 seconds after picking him up, but really, the problems start when Mario grabs the kid by the shoulder in an abrupt, threatening manner from out of frame.
Mario then smiles at the camera, rather than reassuringly at the kid. The kid looks at Mario with what I think is meant to be awe, but looks a lot more like terror. The kid looks at the picture of Mario, then back at the real Mario, but far too slowly. The hilarious thing is that Mario does the same thing, looking at his own picture, then back at the kid, in perfect sync.
1. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the Dell Streak
Whoever uploaded this to YouTube included “funny commercial” in the title, which is a lie from the pit of hell. I’m usually pretty understanding about bad acting from hockey players, because it’s a long way from their comfort zone. But this commercial makes me hate Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
“No ring? Hot. What’s the play?” The play is screw you, Kane, you douche. Though the fact you call a girl “hot” without seeing any part of her body other than her ringless hand is spectacularly on the nose.
“Let’s all be friends and find out. Group shot!” I want to punch you in the kidneys, Kane.
“Wow, I have one really funny friend.” No you don’t, Toews, unless you’re not actually referring to Kane, which wouldn’t make any sense, because you immediately show the girl a picture of Kane, wherein he’s not doing anything funny, which also doesn’t make any sense. THIS COMMERCIAL MAKES ME THINK YOU’RE A TERRIBLE PERSON TOEWS.