Companies eager to associate with a Chicago sports champion should have some fresh, appealing faces as frontmen with younger Blackhawks players.
Superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have long dominated the commercial market on behalf of their team with spots for Chevy and Lemonhead. Savvy veterans Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith recently dovetailed with actors playing skating bank employees in a commercial for HMO Harris Bank.
Now the likes of telegenic Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad and Nick Leddy could add extra cash as the Hawks soar to all-time popularity in a market where other teams have disappointed.
As they recovered Thursday from their pub crawls with the Stanley Cup and prepared for a spectacular rally/parade Friday, Shaw, Saad and Leddy could look forward to a future when they can join their star teammates in video productions.
Shaw is bantam-rooster pugilist
The 21-year-old Shaw in particular has a devilishly rascal image as a 5-foot-10 bantam-rooster pugilist, who was not afraid to mix it up bigger, stronger players like 6-foot-9 Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
The second-year Shaw showed up at a media session Thursday with a swollen right check, a shiner in his right eye and a stitched-up facial cut from being hit with a puck in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. He also revealed he played through the last two postseason rounds with a broken rib on his left side.
“It would be pretty cool,” Shaw said. “But we have a busy season. Playing a lot, you need your rest. If there’s time, I’d guess I’d do a few things like that.”
The upcoming-star role would be played by 20-year-old top rookie Saad, a prime 6-foot-1, 202-pound athlete dubbed the “man-child” by teammates.
“The options are always there, and if the opportunity comes along, I’d look into it, for sure,” said Saad.
Promising 22-year-old defenseman Leddy is of a similar mindset on video work. “It’d be awesome, it’d be cool,” he said.
Hawks general manager Stan Bowman has no objection to his players doing endorsement work within reason. However, don’t expect head coach Joel Quenneville, one of only four Chicago coaches in all sports to ever win two championships here, to follow in Mike Ditka’s wake as a ubiquitous commercial pitchman.
On Thursday, Quenneville modestly said he just wants to concentrate on coaching.
Kane is real deal as classy personality
Kane and Toews likely will still get the lion’s share of the casting calls. Despite some frat-boy off-the-ice episodes in the past, Kane’s image has been burnished by his Conn Smyth Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player. He is legitimately a down-to-earth 24-year-old superstar. At the media event, Kane offered handshakes to reporters as he left the room.
WFLD/32 sports anchor Lou Canellis said Shaw and goalie Corey Crawford – despite the latter’s low-key demeanor – are good bets to raise their off-ice profiles. After the second Stanley Cup championship in four years, hockey players could be in more demand by local TV stations as regular pundits, Canellis said. He formerly worked with former Bears superstar Brian Urlacher on Sunday-night Fox-32 segments.
However, ABC/7 sports anchor Rafer Weigel cautioned hockey players’ time constraints could put a brake on such hirings. Unlike Bears players, usually performing on Sunday afternoons with the evenings free, Hawks players’ schedules are more irregular.
George Castle is a Chicago-based sportswriter, author and sports historian.