The Life (and death?) of the Guardian Project?

October 10, 2010.

CBC posts an article about Stan Lee working on a project to create 30 super heroes for the NHL – with plans to reach a new male audience aged 9 to 14; and to cash in on the (at the time) fast growing Comic Book movie hype.
People were interested and whilst many were skeptical about the project working; enough people believed that this could be an exciting new addition to their favorite teams marketing portfolio.

Appearing on an ESPN Podcast just a few days later; Stan Lee expressed his interest, and confirmed to many Stan Lee fans out there that this would be among his finest creations.

December, a Facebook app and microsite launch offering fans to vote for what team should have their character unveiled first.
Adam Barratta, Chief Creative officer of GME (the team behind this project) quoted to Sports business journal: ““It’s a creative partnership between two brands whose goal is to expand the exposure of hockey. We’re expecting to have a great presence for many years to come.”

A lot of effort and money were to be put into this campaign as once the voting began it was set to conclude with a spectacular finale at the Carolina All Star Game, January 30; featuring an in arena show featuring visual effects not seen elsewhere. All very promising.

The Facebook campaign was a success from the outside; with lots of voting, competition and entertainment to the fans who took part. Many people were pleased with their teams character designs – others were not so happy. Traditional, older fans tended to dismiss this project and some felt that it would interfere too much with hockey. Others were even more cynical, predicting an early demise as the project was just too “far out” for a sports league.

The All Star game came, and it did not fail to dissapoint in the 2nd intermission when the arena was alight with a visual spectacle almost equivalent to what the Superbowl offers – and announced at the same time was an exciting line of merchandise and a graphic novel all themed around the Guardian Project.

Comic fans were excited as they now had a way to combine their interest in hockey with their passion for comics – fans were promised different stories ensuring that each team got the limelight. People who were skeptical in the past, having seen the introduction started to believe this could be for real now and some started to embrace the product a bit more. Smaller pockets of fans however remained critical and a few pointed out that a cast of 30 will be hard to maintain without undermining others: did they have a point?

Through Feburary and even into early March, people were still excited. The merchandise sold and the flashy Guardian 30 website promised more information on each character; again tied heavily towards a Facebook promotion.
Characters started to appear. Back stories for the characters, and the villains started to appear -Forums were promised, and games. People were excited. And then suddenly; it stopped.

No new Guardians were revealed, No new merchandise became available, Supplies for the comic books halted and the website froze – suspended indefinitely in a sea of 1′s and 0′s.

Nothing happened until June. In June, to somewhat little fanfare the NHL announced a partnership on the project with NBC Universal to coincide with the new league hookup. NBC stated to the press that they were excited in this project and will be promoting it alongside their other NHL products.
This gave some hope to people, however many felt that after 6 months of not that much; it was too late.

So here we are in 2013. Its now May, and almost 2 years since this deal with the NBC took place.

The NHL store lists just 4 Guardian project items for sale – 1 tshirt, and 3 posters. A far cry from the plans for a mass amount of exciting merchandise for all teams.

The website is frozen in the same state that it was in March 2011. No new characters and exactly the same content. The forums and games are still coming soon and interestingly all the Terms and Conditions make no reference to the NBC Universal partnership. The registration system appears to still work however there is little point to doing so.

The Facebook App no longer works and the page has just 21,000 likes (compared to the 2 million and counting for the league), and the last activity from the group itself was in June 2011. It has not been updated to fit with the new design of Facebook meaning it is likely not to have been visited by an Admin or worker for over a year.

So, what of the people behind the project?

According to LinkedIn, just 3 members list Guardian Media Entertainment as their job. Adam Baratta — Chief Creative Officer, Aldo LaPietra — Co-Founder / EVP Production and Business Development, Tony Chargin — Co-Founder / EVP Creative Affairs.
The office, a shared space building in Santa Monica.

It is possible that there is a small amount of work taking place, however with anything like this you would expect more people to be visibly working on such a project and given the noise made when launching this product: you would expect more than a half functional micro site and outdated social media.

So, why did this happen?

Firstly I think it is worth looking at the demographics of hockey fans. SportsBusiness daily shows that 40% of NHL fans are aged 50 and over. This contrasts to the 29% aged between 18-34 and the 29% for 34-49. This core group of fans has more than likely a lower interest than the younger fans in such a project and whilst the product was aimed clearly below them; their sizable number could easily make the product fail. It is worth also noting that the 50+ bracket is less likely to be involved with social media or online micro sites and therefore these products could be lost on them also.

Secondly, I think the too many cooks spoil the broth effect could have come into play here. 30 characters plus villains is no small fete, and for anyone working behind the scenes on this it involves an awful lot of work. Therefore it is worth asking did the project not scale well, and if it didn’t; why didn’t they cut the numbers?
Perhaps an answer to that was that it would be difficult to A. Explain this to fans and B. There would need to be work involved working out what characters had less love.

Thirdly, the its a sports league. This is possibly the most crucial point. The NHL is a hockey league. Its product is a sport – not a bunch of cartoon misfits. Was the product too much of an akward fit and do hardcore comic fans (the big spenders) really have an interest in hockey?

Forthly, was it too late? The comic book film hype began in 2008 or so and during its time some big name films existed. However it became undeniable that by 2010 and 11 the popularity of comic films was not at the height it once was. Big blockbusters like Iron Man and The Dark Knight gave way to failures such as The Green Hornet – granted the films still sold well at cinemas, were great to watch and were memorable; but the crowds seen in the past were nowhere near as big post 2010.

These factors I feel could have lead to the demise.

Whilst I feel it is possible that there could be a revival in this product in the future; the lack of activity now tells the story of a product that came, failed and went out with a whimper; rather than a bang.

The Guardian Project is in all likelihood dead.

I’m KevKev and this is



New bionic Sidney Crosby introduced to league – April Fools Joke 2013

In a planned media event in New York 10am EST, the NHL board of Governors  introduced its plans for the future of hockey and its players.

On display was Gary Bettman’s latest creation, a 7 foot tall Bionic Sidney Crosby dubbed the Crosbot 2.0.

Having noticed that their star player Sidney Crosby has suffered a series of injuries in the past 3 seasons, commissioner Gary Bettman took it upon himself to research and to finance a way to ensure Sidney Crosby  stayed injury free for the seasons ahead in order to promote the league further and to increase revenues.
Working with multimillionaire Bruce Wayne, visionary director Micheal Bay and Cyberdyne systems; a three year labor of love has lead to the product launched today.

The Crosbot 2.0 features a titanium outer shell that is concussion proof, injury proof and available in both a chrome and natural PVC Humanskin™ finish. Sidney Crosby’s eyes have been replaced with a laser guided, heat sensing and motion tracking HD camera system, whilst the jaw has been strengthened and should resist all major impacts expected in a game of hockey.
The nose features as both a vent for airing out the systems inside and an access port for upgrades to be issued via USB memory stick. It was also confirmed that the Crosbot features Wifi; an unnamed Intel Processor and at least 8GB of local storage. Whilst it was not possible to touch or get close to the Crosbot due to the security measures; it was easy to tell that the build quality was high.
The robot is rumored to have cost in excess of $45 million. When asked about this production cost; Bill Daly stated that “TV rights, season ticket prices and that make believe Guardian Project thing all helped fund it”.

The league now plans to roll out more bionic players with the goal of going entirely playerless before the end of the current CBA. “Robotic players don’t need pay, just electricity” stated Craig Harnett – in reference to another reporters questions regarding the future of the NHLPA.

Bettman was also quick to answer questions about who the next players to receive these bionic modification will be – stating that “We have the blueprints for Crosby already. Its much easier and efficient to clone the Crosbot than to create other player-robots; thus I only forsee a league of Crosby’s”. He also went on to say that “The modifications to Crosby will benefit all of mankind and usher in a new era of exciting hockey”.

This project closely matches Wayne Gretzky’s similar plans to build a bionic player based on himself and Gordie Howe in association with Apple. Due to work commitments, Gretzky however could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.


The State of Fandom #2 – Generic Sneery Journalism

Welcome to the State of Fandom, a look at fans that is completely unrelated to the Definitive Fan albeit somewhat similar.

Now, ice hockey here in the United Kingdom is essentially an acquired taste. Some have grown to love the game more than traditional British sports such as football and rugby, others are more casual fans, and somewhere out there is a group who seemingly go out of their way to unfairly slate the game because it isn’t football; this is the same crowd that labels American Football as “Rugby For Wimps”.

Certain people who come under the latter group, happen to be professional journalists. The “professional” part is questionable at best.

As folks have already shared many times today on Twitter, this article goes right out of its way to take a diarrhea dump all over the game of ice hockey because the author doesn’t care enough to understand the sport because it isn’t football. And then he received a series of angry Tweets, trolling each and every one. Did I mention that this guy is employed by The Daily Telegraph, one of the oldest currently running newspapers in the UK? Yeah, this looks fantastic on their behalf.

I’m sorry, Mr Liew, but if you’re going to shit all over our beloved game with your generic, sneery comments, you deserve to be ridiculed. Now that I’ve crackled my fingers, read on as I dissect this piece of crap one sneery paragraph at a time.

“…an Olympic ice hockey qualifier between Great Britain and France on ESPN. Being as inquisitive of nature as I was oblivious of remote-control location, I decided to give it a go. And so began one of the most confusing half-hours I have ever spent in front of an electrical appliance.”

Wait, so, a game in which two teams compete to shoot an object into a net to score more goals than the other team is confusing?

“The first befuddlement was this: where was the puck? A hockey puck, you see, is just three inches in diameter and can travel at speeds of over 100mph. When it is not zipping across the rink like a photon leaping at superluminal velocity from the violent fission of a radioactive nucleus…” 

Presumably this guy has a pretty normal sized television set. For the past five years I’ve been watching NHL games on a 14-inch laptop screen with a comparatively small screen res, and I don’t ever recall having trouble following the puck. It’s a black object on a bright, white surface. You can’t miss it.

 ”… it is lost in a whirr of flailing limbs and flying sticks obscured by large angry men, padded and wadded as if carrying out essential maintenance work to the sun.” 

 Angry? Try Tunnel Vision. It’s not like they’re big stupid thuggish men who get angry all the time for no reason. Take the “big” part away from what I just said and you’ve basically got a footballer. And yes, here in Britain we are pretentious enough to call them “footballers” rather than “football players”. That’d be like if Canada started calling its athletes “hockeyers”. It sounds ridiculous. Oh, and all the padding? That’s there to, y’know, protect the players from injury. Because being whacked by an object weighing six ounces at over 100 mph fucking hurts.

With regards to the generic angry thuggish stereotype that ice hockey players often gets lumped with, let’s take a look at an NHL player, and a footballer. George Parros, meet Wayne Rooney.

George Parros is known as an enforcer-type player. In other words, the guy who gets into all the fights. And has a cult following because of both that and his awesome mustache. The mullet he also sports – which, by the way, he has shaved off once a year for charity purposes – completes the look and feel of a brute who wouldn’t have looked too out of place with the 70′s Philadelphia Flyers. Oh, but get this: Parros studied at Princeton University and graduated with a degree in Economics. And yet here he is today, slamming and punching blokes in the face on a regular basis.

In the other corner we have Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. I don’t follow football myself but I hear he’s a fantastic player – unfortunately the good this man does is limited to the football pitch, assuming he hasn’t already flipped off the opposing team’s fans. He has also been known for adultery, threatening to beat up the Dads of young fans for taking photos of him, and laughably, unlike the surprisingly well-educated men of the NHL, Rooney didn’t even achieve a single GCSE. For our North American readers, that’s basically the equivalent of graduating from high school. He couldn’t even do that, yet he is the current face of the game of English football and a supposed idol for young fans of Manchester United. Because that’s how you promote world-class athletes, right?

In short, George Parros is the type of guy I would take down to the pub and have a few beers with. Wayne Rooney can piss off.

But I digress.

“Attempting to follow the puck made my eyes hurt after a while”

You’re still complaining about that? Get your eyes tested.

“Great Britain, meantime, were 3-0 down, which was predictable enough for a country in which ice denotes a potential lawsuit rather than a potential sporting surface. Perhaps they were having trouble locating the puck as well. Perhaps they were being distracted by the frequent blasts of funfair music that accompanied any break in play” 

Again, this guy hasn’t heard of Tunnel Vision. And yeah, I’m sure hockey players are severely distracted by the loud blasts of arena music that only plays when they’re not.

“So I turned to the commentary for guidance. This proved equally baffling. I didn’t catch their names, but the main commentator was an American or a Canadian who had evidently been dared to use as many household objects in his commentary as possible. “Bellemare tries to get it through the tray. Just whistles right through the crease. France call for it off the point. Right off the glass. Hecquefeuille! Bombs away!”"

Clearly you haven’t watched any sports on TV, ever. Also for the record, the crease and glass that you’re referring to are both part of the rink.

“The expert summariser was a Briton who clearly had long-standing ties to the sport, but was so devoid of insight as to be practically unlistenable — a sort of Niall Quinn of the rink, if you will. “GB have got to get themselves in this, and that means scoring a goal,” was just one of his many phrases that will ultimately fail to get printed on a commemorative tea-towel.” 

OK, I’ll give you that. Ice Hockey commentary in the UK is diabolical.

““Penalty to GB!” the commentator cried. Some good news at last! Unfortunately, despite its ostensibly tantalising purport, “penalty to GB” meant it was Britain being penalised.”


“Apparently one of the British players had been found guilty of “slashing”, whatever that meant, and had to leave the ice.”

It’s what it says on the tin. The bloke slashed an opposing player with his stick. He was sat in the sin bin for an illegal play, and as a result the team were forced to play with one less player. That is how penalties work in hockey.

“Then Britain scored. It happened as abruptly as that. Such is the blinding speed of the game that the naked eye is often ill-equipped to keep pace. All I can tell you is that they were playing ice hockey, just like normal, when all of a sudden the British guys started throwing their arms in the air and embracing. Even after the third replay, I was still none the wiser.” 

So the replays of the guy taking a shot, the goalie failing to make a save, and the puck going into the net weren’t enough to tell you that a goal was scored? Really?

“Likewise, I was content to plead ignorance of the sport as a whole. In an ideal world, I could devote hours and months to studying and appreciating the game: its nuance, its lexicon, its characters. Should ESPN continue its ice hockey coverage, I could even become a regular spectator one day.”

Of course you would. Because you evidently tried so hard to get yourself interested in this game for all of 30 minutes, if even that.

“But it will never happen, and for this we can blame the dizzying array of choice that modernity has provided us. In this cash-poor, time-poor, post-Olympic landscape, every sport claims to be the best possible use of our time. This has benefits. Never has it been easier to find sport. But by the same token, never has it been harder to discern the indispensable from the inessential; to tell the difference, as it were, between minced beef and minced horse.” 

Ice hockey, inessential? Now you’ve gone and crossed the line between generic ignorance and total douchebaggery. It’s journalists like you who are ultimately responsible for hockey’s lack of growth and the negative stereotype that is often attached to it.

Now to be clear, I’m aware that there are people that don’t enjoy ice hockey, and that’s fine. But to label it as an inferior sport just because it’s not the more popular one that’s played on grass with a ball being kicked about is ludicrous.

Congratulations for making an asshat of yourself and embarrassing The Daily Telegraph.

I’m Wildwing64, and this has been The State of Fandom at

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