The NHL is taking part in The Guardian Project, which is a marketing initiative (announced here on 10/07/2010) with SLG Entertainment which is headed by Stan Lee. Lee has created some of the most popular comic book characters in history, like Spiderman, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four.
Lee describes the initiative as: "In the creation of Guardian Media Entertainment and its unique and unprecedented relationship with the NHL, I truly believe we have the perfect combination from which to launch 30 new superheroes and excite young fans around the globe."
I love you Stan. You have done a lot for comics, but this isn't going to work.
As I write this the first three characters that have been unveiled are the Hurricane, the King and the Penguin. I won't spoil as to which teams those new characters represent, but I think you can guess.
Before I move on, let me say that I am a comic book fan. I have had my lapses in collecting/reading but for the most part I have been a pretty constant follower of the two main comic book universes, Marvel and DC, for the past 15 years. With that in mind, creating 1 new comic book character (that is interesting) is hard work. Creating 30? Near impossible. A good chunk of the popular characters today in comics were created in the 1930s, 40s or 60s.
It would have been better for the NHL to partner with either DC or Marvel and assign each team a established hero from their respective comic universe. I think kids would love to see a hero like Spiderman or Superman fight alongside a Sidney Crosby than ‘The Penguin'. The NHL wanted to do this the hard way and create new characters, but there is such a wealth of great characters out there, I wanted to see if I can assign heroes and in some cases villains to each NHL team.
With no restrictions I will use characters from the Marvel, DC and other universes. I feel like I have found excellent representations of each team, but suggestions are always welcome. (Please be sure to turn your sarcasm meters way up for this.) After the jump I assign characters to each team. I also include hyperlinks to each character's Wikipedia page in case you are unfamiliar with them.
Anaheim Ducks-Blade, Marvel Comics-Much like the Anaheim Ducks, the Blade character was more popular because of the movies than anything he did in comic books. The movies did help get him his own series and he has had a decent run in the last decade with different series or mini-series in his name.
Boston Bruins-Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics. One of the original books that Stan Lee used to re-ignite interest in comics has become fairly redundant and boring. Bad creative teams were the problem for many years, but new creators have injected some life into the franchise. As a bonus they even have players who resemble the characters! Specifically Zdeno Chara (Mr. Fantastic) and Tim Thomas (The Thing).
Buffalo Sabres-Captain America, Marvel Comics. His recent surge in popularity (due to his comic book death) is long overdue as Cap is a solid, team-oriented hero. Hopefully new ownership can inject similar life into a fantastic fanbase in Buffalo. Always does the little things right and is a rock of stability for the Avengers.
Calgary Flames-Firestorm, DC Comics-Not well known but an extremely powerful hero. There is a catch though, as two regular people have to join together to create the hero. Once those two people join forces they have the power to destroy an entire franchise, I mean planet.
Carolina Hurricanes-Nightwing, DC Comics. In the DC Comics Universe the original Robin, Batman's partner grew up and took over the identity of Nightwing. Almost as good as Batman, but just not there yet. (As an aside, Nightwing is my favorite character so it was tough to assign him to the Canes, who broke the Devils hearts two years ago.)
Chicago Blackhawks-Iron Man, Marvel Comics. The recovering alcoholic had been neglected creatively for a long time, but some good storylines and a movie franchise's recent attention has put him right in the forefront of the Marvel universe.
Colorado Avalanche-Flash, DC Comics. A character that has had his ups and downs creatively the past 15-20 years, but after a lull of about 3 years is back as one of the top characters in the DC Universe.
Dallas Stars-Spiderman, Marvel Comics-One of the most successful comic book characters in pop culture history, though he has had ups and downs in the comics, with a deal with the Devil to save his Aunt May (Sean Avery?) one of the more polarizing situations in recent comics history. Regardless, the character still stands to the same core concepts he did when introduced many years ago, primarily responsibility. For every step back Spidey takes, he usually ends up bouncing back with two steps forward.
Detroit Red Wings-Superman, DC Comics. The standard every hero is measured by. It may be tough to be interested in a character that really has no physical match, but you are always impressed by the way he goes about things and his long-term accomplishments.
Edmonton Oilers-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mirage Studios-They were great when most of us were young in the late 80s and early 90s, and a pop culture sensation. Now? Most don't think of TMNT when they think of quality comic book characters.
Florida Panthers-Spawn, Image Comics. Was a great, popular character back in the mid/late-90s, and really was the darling for Independent publishers of comics establishing themselves in the industry. He is still around today, but hasn't been as successful as the creative teams have lacked the energy to adapt the character properly.
Los Angeles Kings-Titans/New Teen Titans, DC Comics. The Titans are like the Junior Justice League. Never ready to make that leap as they may have young talent they always take the safe road when approaching challenges and never overextend themselves. Plus, none of their members ever seem to go to college which fits the Kings perfectly.
Nashville Predators-Batman, DC Comics. Doesn't have the benefits of flight or super powers but is still one of the best, if not the best, hero out there and is a model for others in hard work, dedication and focus.
New Jersey Devils-Professor X, Marvel Comics. One of the greatest and most powerful minds in the Marvel Universe, Professor X has almost been the downfall of the Marvel Universe as his darker side produced ‘Onslaught' a being of such power that it took the deaths of many heroes to stop him. This originally took place in 1996. It was recently announced that Onslaught is scheduled to return in February of 2011. I wish I was making that up.
New York Islanders-Aquaman, DC Comics. A solid character, but one that has never been able to seriously hold his own title for more than a year or so. Has a die-hard bunch of fans who deserve better. But the future is bright, there is a new Aqualad on the scene and he actually has one of the best writers in comics taking the reins on him. Ownership change anyone?
Ottawa Senators-Riddler, DC Comics. Traditionally a villain, he had a recent stretch were he changed ways and was a detective helping fight crime in Gotham City. Now, from recent events it looks like he went back to his old ways and will continue to cause chaos with his puzzling free agent pickups and trades. Sorry I meant riddles.
Pittsburgh Penguins-Wolverine, Marvel Comics. Lot of talent, deserves accolades and kicks butt, but terribly, terribly overexposed. He has like 15 different series that feature him and at this point you start to not like him as much as you did and appreciate how great he is because everyone else keeps telling you how great he is. Also, despite the weirdest facial hair in comics history he has never been able to grow a mustache.
Philadelphia Flyers-.Joker, DC Comics. Absolutely nothing to like about the Joker and that goes the same for the Flyers. Although, even the Joker would probably be classy enough to not steal milestone pucks from other players/teams.
San Jose Sharks-Incredible Hulk, Marvel Comics. The Hulk is a cool character that everyone can reference, everyone kind of likes but he has never been ‘that' good of a character. Two poor showings at the box office show he is not a top-tier hero and might always be on the outside looking in at other characters like Iron Man.
St. Louis Blues-Daredevil, Marvel Comics. Seemingly well known, Daredevil is typically viewed as behind the Spidermen, Hulks, and Captain Americas of the Marvel Universe. He fights crime while blind, so he is not your normal superhero. That said, he has gone through many dark and unlucky times, but he is always a character that everyone can root for.
Tampa Bay Lightning-Gambit, Marvel Comics. Much like the Lightning, Gambit is popular and cool but you always think that he could do more and be a better hero/character. Lot of unfilled potential there.
Toronto Maple Leafs-Wonder Woman, DC Comics. Wonder Woman is a legacy character that has been a prominent figure in the DC Universe despite the fact that she is rather boring, people get tired of hearing about why she is so important and she really hasn't done anything exciting in 40 years.
Vancouver Canucks-Green Lantern, DC Comics. The Green Lantern franchise has boomed in popularity in recent years and it is all because they have made fantastic creative decisions to make the character and his mythos better. With a movie on the way, the sky is the limit for this character.
Washington Capitals-Deadpool, Marvel Comics. Like Wolverine, a very popular character but I don't understand why. He hasn't done much, especially in large cross-over events where the world was at stake. Also, sales on his book really didn't start to ramp up until recently. Now he is now being shoved down everyone's throats (multiple series, movies) like he has saved the world.
Comments? Questions? Thanks for reading and sound off below!