Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Pure Hockey TV Commercials, Part IV

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Our last post provided some insight into how we, um, "casted" the commercials and included interviews with the "actors," who actually turned out to be GREAT actors even though they weren't actually actors. Did that make sense? Either way, today, in our fourth and final installment of a look behind the curtain at the making of the Pure Hockey TV commercials, we'll look at the day we shot the Brad Marchand commercial and also have a quick chat with the man behind the vision, Director and Devils fan Rodrigo Lopez.

We were originally scheduled to shoot the Brad Marchand commercial on September 13, exactly one day after we shot the David Clarkson commercial down in New Jersey. There was just one problem: Marchand hadn't signed a contract yet with the Bruins. So during the David Clarkson shoot, I found myself on the phone with Brad's agent, trying to figure out what was going on. Then I went to Boston.com and saw trade rumors. We had a decision to make - spend the money on a TV production shoot for a player who might not play in Boston or roll the dice and shoot the commercial and hope Marchand signed? What would you do? He was skating with the team, so that was a good sign, right? Despite that, we opted out of shooting the commercial the next day - too risky.

The problem with that - we'd have to find a way to schedule Brad during the NHL season and let me tell you, that wasn't easy. At all. Not only are you trying to coordinate the schedules of a TV production team at Neoscape, you're also trying to schedule the two main actors and THEN Brad's schedule. We had a few hit-and-misses and finally, finally, finally were able to shoot the commercial on Sunday, November 13th, the night after the Bruins played Buffalo and now known as the game where Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller.

All well and good. Most of us arrived at the Pure Hockey Braintree store at about 9am and it wasn't long before we were shooting the first few scenes. In both TV shoots, we tried to get as much of the non-Marchand/Clarkson video shot before the player actually got there. So the scenes where Lou and Brian (store manager and assistant manager) are talking to each other were shot in the morning and the scenes with Brad were shot completely seperate, despite the fact that the commercial seems to flow pretty well. Tribute to Neoscape there (and all other TV production firms, I suppose this happens every day).

So Brad arrives at about 2pm and we usher him right into the office for prep and to sign a few things for the store. Keep in mind that we are contracted with Brad for only a few hours, so we wanted to keep his coming into Braintree pretty quiet to avoid too much fandom and to get our commercial shot. The first shot we did with Brad was the helmet scene, which seems to be people's favorite, in general. Originally the helmet scene was a little more friendly. The way Neoscape had story-boarded this, Brad was to give the customer a few taps, fairly hard - and that's how the first few shots went. Originally it was Brad giving him a pat on the head in quick succession - taptaptap. But it wasn't enough. And it wasn't hard enough. So we did another couple of takes with the taps in quick succession.

But something was missing. So I asked Rodrigo and Brad to slow down the hits, space them out a little, make 'em a little harder, then have a slightly odd pause - and then a final WHACK! That is what you see in the final version. Good stuff!

It wasn't long, though, before word got out about Brad being in our store. In this immediate news world, people were posting to Twitter and Facebook that he was at the Braintree store shooting a commercial and soon enough, we had small crowds around us during each scene. Manageable, but a little distracting. We expected it on a Sunday in our busiest store, so it wasn't a huge deal and Brad couldn't have been more accomodating and patient with people. He signed a lot of stuff, posed for a lot of pictures and was very friendly.

We finished up about 6pm and that was that! The commercial came out awesome and the general public seems to have agreed!

One other funny little story - Brad hadn't heard the comments that Ryan Miller made about Lucic, so we showed him the video in the office. He got a kick out of it for sure.

Finally, our verbosity about these commercials wouldn't be complete without some input from the Director of both shoots, Neoscape's Rodrigo Lopez. I haven't done many TV commercial shoots, but I can tell you without pause that Rodrigo and the rest of his team were instrumental - no, crucial - in making sure these things went off without a hitch. To a person, the Neoscape crew was friendly, patient, fun and most importantly, super-prepared and focused. It was an absolute pleasure working with these guys. Here's a quickie interview with Rodrigo:

So you directed all three Pure Hockey commercials over the past few months. Besides the total, complete, life-changing thrill of working with a company like Pure Hockey (ahem), what was the most enjoyable part of the process?
Well, there’s all the fame, fortune and recognition, which has been somewhat life-changing. But in all seriousness, what I enjoyed the most was watching the plan come together during shoot days. We always like to prepare just enough so that you leave room for spontaneity, particularly when there isn't any time to rehearse. That approach definitely helped with these three spots.

Were these commercials materially different in any way than others that you’ve done in the “normal” course of your work?
These commercials were definitely a departure from the work I do on a daily basis at Neoscape, where I direct a lot of CG and VFX work for marketing films. We do a lot with live action and actors, but here the pressure was definitely on to direct spots that not only had to stand on their own, but be funny as well. We had good material to work with! Plus, we do our best work under pressure so this was a welcome challenge.

Were you surprised by how well our two store employees (Lou and Brian) were on camera? I mean, we basically had no cast for these things until the day of the first commercial!
I thought Marchand and Clarkson were incredibly funny, each in their own way, but I can’t imagine these spots with anyone other than Lou and Brian. They were awesome! When they first read for us on the morning of the Clarkson shoot down in Fairfield, I knew we had our guys. They looked like they had just walked off the set of Clerks - another Jersey masterpiece. I remember thinking to myself as we were wrapping up the shoot in New Jersey, “we need to get these guys up to Boston for the shoot at the Braintree store.” Luckily Jeff was able to make it work.

It’s a small sample size, but what were your thoughts and impressions re: working with professional athletes?
I'm not a big celebrity hound, but the few times I've been around athletes, and hockey players in particular, I've found them to be very humble and altogether normal. Clarkson and Marchand were no different. As a Devils fan I was excited to meet David Clarkson. I've been watching him drop gloves on TV for years but in person he was very down to earth and a super nice guy. Heck, I even had to show him how hard to check one of the employees during the shoot because he was afraid of hurting the guy! And what can you say about Brad Marchand? Everyone saw what he did in the playoffs during the Bruins Cup run last summer, and then for several weeks after that around every bar in Boston. I was even wondering if he'd show up to the shoot shirtless (he didn't). On the day of his shoot in Braintree there were a ton of customers in the store, and he managed to not only put in one heck of a performance for the cameras, but also found time to sign plenty of autographs.

What was the most difficult part of the shoots, in your eyes?
I can't think of anything that was particularly difficult, but shoots are always a bit nerve wracking. For the two player spots we were limited to a few hours with the talent - that's where planning and a great crew make all the difference. I can say that often times what makes a shoot difficult is an over anxious clients, but working with Jeff/Pure Hockey was totally different. We collaborated very seamlessly during the creative and planning stages, and he had complete confidence in us once we went into the shoots. He even delivered his own award-winning performance as "the customer" in the Clarkson spot.

You think the Devils have ANY chance this year?
I really hope so. As a fan, I used to get a lot of mileage out of the fact that they won 3 cups in 8 years. But now that’s quickly becoming a distant memory. Plus, Brodeur needs one more cup to end his Hall of Fame career in style.

0 Comments Posted at 12:00PM on 03/27/2012

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Pure Hockey Profile: Norwalk, CT

Here's another post in our series of Pure Hockey store profiles. The Pure Hockey store in Norwalk, CT is one of our newest, having opened up in July 2010 and at roughly 12,000 square feet of space, it's roughly in the middle-to-average when it comes to the sizes of our stores. Situated just off of Route 95, the Norwalk store is about an hour north of New York City and an hour south of Hartford. Needless to say, there is quite a bit of hockey being played in that area!

You can see some pictures and a video tour of our Norwalk store right here.

The crew down in Connecticut is a great group of hockey lifers and real knowledgeable about both lacrosse and hockey. Evan Gauthier manages the store, he started out in our Nashua location and did so well that we gave him the store down in Norwalk shortly after it opened. Evan has managed the store to terrific growth since we opened down there and always has his eyes on the ball. Or puck.

We decided to take a minute to ask Evan some quick questions so you can know him a little better. Here we go.....

1.  How did you first get into the game of hockey?
Not really sure how it started but I was about 7 when I started skating and once I got on skates I just never looked back.  My dad has always been a huge Bruins fan so I think that was the biggest influence to my wanting to skate.

2. What’s the biggest difference for you regarding hockey equipment from when you were a kid vs. the gear available today?
The gear now is so much lighter.  I still have some of my old stuff in my parents garage and it weighs so much more than the stuff now.  The sticks are crazy different too.  I used a wood stick until I was a freshman in high school.

3. What are you using for gear these days? Anything you’re dying to try out?
I have always been pretty much a loyal CCM person.  I have the 11K Reebok skates and the X:60 stick.  My gloves are CCM U+12.  I am really looking forward to seeing the new Bauer Nexus gear.  Looks real comfortable.

4.  What was your first impression of Pure Hockey when you first saw a store?
I remember walking into the original Pure Hockey in Marlboro when it was closer to the rink.  I was just blown away as a kid by all the stuff in the store.  It was pretty overwhelming as a little kid and there is just shelves upon racks upon walls of gear everywhere.

5.  What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?
Last thing I laughed really hard at would have to be a few months ago I left my house to go to work and got all the way to the car before I realized that I had left my keys inside my apartment and locked the door behind me.  Thankfully I had my cell phone and was able to call a cab to get to work.  Haven't locked myself out since then.

Thanks Evan!



0 Comments Posted at 12:00PM on 03/21/2012

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Monday, March 19, 2012
Preview: Reebok 20K Skates

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

The new products are coming down the line fast and furious now, people! We've had our demos of the Reebok 20K skate here in the office for a while but now the curtain of confidentiality has been lifted by Reebok and we are allowed to talk about them and show them off. Here's the details:

What's new: Reebok went ahead and added what they call a "Dynamic Support System" - this provides for a more solid skate all-around and offers better flex in tandem with the reinforced composite quarter package. The claim is that this will maximize your energy transmission with every stride. Time will tell, of course. Sounds to me like we're looking at a stiffer skate. When I tried them on, they certainly did feel a little more stuff than a new 11K, but who am I to say - most top-line skates feel pretty stuff on first wear. Given this is only a preview, we can't say anything about actual performance until we've tried them on and used them a few times. Those write-ups will be coming in a couple of months.

So......the Pump. Right? Seems like the people who love the Pump skate really love the skate and are devoted users. If you're one of them, you're going to love the 20K even more. The personalized performance options and custom comfort this affords you is the most unique feature of these skates. The Quarter Package is Reebok's Pro Armour IV, where they reinforce certain zones in the skate for better support and stability. Back is the dual-zone liner with their "tacky nash" and Clarino material which really does an excellent job keeping your feet dry and locked in.

The tongue offers a pro-felt and EPE foam hybrid. The foam core and molding also maximize comfort and minimize twist. The outsole boasts a lightweight, low-profile and vented outsole provides a very reactive feel.  I have to tell you, I don't currently wear Reebok skates, but when I but these babies on my feet, I am reconsidering. As mentioned, they do feel more stiff than past Reebok skates I've tried but in the past when I tried on Reebok's and walked around with them on my feet, my arches hurt before I even got on the ice. I haven't gotten on the ice yet with these, but I can tell you that in walking around, any soreness in my arch has now disappeared in the 20K's.

As far as heel support, these didn't feel any different to me than past top-line Reebok's. Remember, this is a top-of-the-line skate here, so heel support and interiors are already excellent - the 20K's offer that same excellence and our on-ice testing will determine to what extent.

So that's what we have for you right now. Here's a nice big picture for you to spin around with your mouse and see all the angles, including up and down. Let us know if you have any questions.


0 Comments Posted at 12:00PM on 03/19/2012

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Friday, March 16, 2012
Preview: Bauer Nexus 600 Limited Edition Skate

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

As you may imagine, one of the things we like the most around here is when someone from Bauer, Reebok, Easton, etc come into the office with bags and bags of new and upcoming gear for us gawk at. It's definitely one of the better parts of the job. Often times, we see this stuff months before the product is mass-produced (and yes, way before ModSquad or whatnot) and believe me, it takes all the fortitude I have to not snap I-Phone pics of everything and post them everywhere so you can see the stuff early too! Nonetheless, we are bound by confidentiality agreements with all these vendors, so we abide by them. Because we're nice.

So when the legal gates fly open and we can show you pictures of stuff, well, that's fun, man! Today is no different. There is a lot of buzz out there about Bauer introducing a third line into the product cycle, an addition to the Supreme and Vapor line, called Nexus. The Nexus line of product was recently on display at the Let's Play Hockey show in St. Paul, MN, so a lot of people out there got to see the standard line of gear coming and Bauer is starting to let it fly on the internet as well - the images are obviously getting around.

But on the outskirts of the core Nexus line is some Nexus stuff that only Pure Hockey will offer. We do this on occasion - we will work with Bauer to come up with some cool variations on product and because of our size, they'll make it for us! For example, the all-white Bauer 4-Roll gloves are something that only Pure Hockey carries and many of you have spoken with your wallets - we appreciate that, of course - but the real fun is conceptualizing the alternative look and then actually seeing it! It's a cool feeling. The S19 Pure stick from Easton was a huge hit as well, with many NHL'ers using that stick.

So it's with great excitement that we give you a little sneak peek of the Nexus 600 Limited Edition skate. This will ONLY be available at Pure Hockey. Here's the picture, in all its beauty - you can spin baby around with your mouse and see it from all angles (and you can tile it up and down with your mouse too). Have a look (specs are below the picture):

Here's some quick specs on the skate:

Upper Features:
Quarter Package: variable stiffness Compression-molded EVA with performance nylon
Lining Material is hydrophobic performance-woven liner
Heel Support is a patented anatomical heel/ankle support

It also has anaform ankle pads, the tongue is white 2-piece felt with a molded metatarsal guard and the footbed is Bauer's FORM-FIT+ with grip, moisture management and heel stabilizer.

Lower Features:
The outside is a full fiber composite and the stock blade runners/holder are TUUK Lightspeed 2 with TUUK super stainless steel runner.

We don't have an exact release date on these, but we can tell you it should be sometime early July if everything works out right. We hope this has you as excited as us! Check back here for more info on upcoming releases and other fun stuff.

0 Comments Posted at 12:00PM on 03/16/2012

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Long Term Review - Cascade M11 Hockey Helmet

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Last week the kind folks at Cascade sent me the spec sheet and some photos of the brand new Cascade "M11 Pro" hockey helmet, which is due out this spring and will be the successor to the M11. As you probably know, the M11 was born from The Messier Project, which is a collaboration between NHL Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier and a collection of other NHL players - and also players of all ages from the AHL down to regional youth hockey players. The aim is simple - to make a helmet that provides the best possible technology and protection possible.

While NO helmet will prevent concussions, the original M11's core mission was to minimize the risk of concussions as much as humanly possible through technology. I won't go through the technology here because that's not the point of the post today - and you can find plenty of information out there on the technology behind it, especially at The Messier Project's page. Suffice it to say, about a year-and-a-half ago when I was in need of a new helmet, I did relatively extensive research into the technology behind helmets. I say "relatively" because I'm a men's league player who usually plays twice a week, sometimes three, so the hitting is minimal. I am at far less risk than the high school or college player who plays the hitting game, but nonetheless, one still has to be mindful of such things, even in men's league play. If you're in the hitting game, this is potentially one of the most important purchases you'll make. Your parents probably feel even more strongly about that one.

OK, so what's my point then? Well, I want to give you a little detail about how my 1.5 year old M11 has held up and if it is standing the test of time well enough. We call this our "long-term reviews" here on the blog. In doing some quick math, I've had the helmet for about 72 weeks now and since I'm playing twice a week, let's just say that I've used it around 150 times (the total is probably more, but I'll stay conservative). I chose the black M11 with some red trim; it's a combo and I left the stock M11 cage on there. Some people are picky about cages, I am not, though after watching Daniel Paille of the Bruins on Pure Hockey's Gear Tips from the Pros series, I now love the idea of either getting a cage or painting the inside of one white for slightly better sight.

What really sold me on the helmet (moreso than the technology) was the comfort. For me, there was nothing even close. I tried the Bauer 9900 series, the 4500 series and I also tried the Easton S19's and threw on a Reebok 9K for good measure. Nothing even approached the comfort I had in the M11. So with the relative lack of contact in men's leagues, it wasn't much of a decision. As soon as I put on the M11, I knew I was buying it. Negatives? Well, it doesn't look too much like a traditional hockey helmet and Cascade has taken their lumps for this. For me personally, looks take a distant back seat to comfort and protection anyway, so I don't care. I know a lot of you do very much care about  how it looks and that is certainly fine. I think if you look at the M11 Pro pics from the link above, you'll see that Cascade is going down the road towards a more trad-looking helmet anyway.

So, the helmet itself has held up incredibly well. There are absolutely NO cracks anywhere. The straps and snaps are all original and have held up perfect, the interior pad inserts have the expected minor wear-and-tear associated with 150+ uses and have not dislodged once. The chin-piece is original and as you can see, in pretty amazing shape. The cage-stops (J-clips) and its screws are also still original and have not moved one iota, unlike a lot of my past helmets, where the screws always seemed to loosen and needed frequent tightening and/or entire J-clip replacement. The cage itself, somehow, has virtually no rusting or discoloration on it, something I have never experienced in a helmet. Granted, everyone cares for their gear in different ways, I always air mine out on a rack after playing, so cage condition, much like most of your other gear, is entirely based on your care for it. The one thing I have had to replace is one of the top screws which holds the cage to the helmet.

I like to keep my helmet ever-so-slightly on the loose side. Too tight and I just get headaches, so I get as close to tight as I can without casuing that to happen. Even though I do play non-hit men's league, hits still occasionally happen - as do accidents and collisions - and I can tell you I've taken my fair share of whacks on the helmet from pucks, errant sticks, collisions, etc. The thing has held up like a champ. As far as comfort, it's still there. Insanely comfortable.

All of this obviously bodes well for the M11 Pro that's coming out soon. But if you're thinking about the orignal M11, from my perspective you cannot go wrong. This is a really solid, comfortable hockey helmet and well-worth the price. You have a vast amount of colors and styles to pick from right here. You can also build your own custom M11.  Pics below, ask us if you have any questions!

0 Comments Posted at 12:00PM on 03/14/2012

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