For anyone who hasn’t seen the Chrysler commercial from yesterday, do yourself a favor and scroll down to the bottom of this post and make that happen. The clinching line in the spot, which is so fantastically well done, is “this is the Motor City and this is what we do.”
I’ll get to the hockey component of this in a minute, but before I do, just a quick word here on that ad. The best part for me wasn’t the slick looking new ride or the fantastic images of the city. It wasn’t the pitch-perfect narration or the star power. It was the underlying tone of defiance about a minute in where “he” cites the city’s STORY…the one that folks elsewhere aren’t reading in the papers or hearing in rumors generated by folks who have never been to Detroit.
I’ve lost most of my ability to claim any Detroit cred. My family moved out when I was 15 and I’m not going sit here and say that I’ve felt what’s happened the past decade with the same emotional or physical proximity as everyone still living there. I live in Austin now, a town that’s about as un-Detroit as it gets.
…but that spot stirred something in me, as I am sure it did in anyone with a connection back to Southeastern Michigan. It’s the answer to all of the assholes that we’ve had to put up with over the past ten years talking about our hometown being the murder capitol…or the unemployment leader…or any other trite slights they can regurgitate from some talking head. I fully appreciate a native Detroiter griping about things happening in the city…the politics, the potholes…those lines originated before I was hatched in Dearborn. Residents have the the right to do that and ex-pats can dabble in that territory every once in a while. What I can’t stand though is someone who’s ripping off a line they can’t actually explain…who has never seen the city for himself…who doesn’t have any personal connection to a city that I am so proud to be from.
I tend to fumble around for a response when I hear that kind of stuff. I try to keep it polite. I try to not jump down the guy’s throat. I hold back the visceral response that I’m really feeling, which is to break a beer bottle over their head. I know that doesn’t “advance the conversation.” This commercial said a lot of what I’ve rambled through inarticulately for years, and for that narrative, I’m damn grateful.
Making the turn here, the other thought I’m centered on today is defining “what we do” as a hockey team. It’s getting pretty damn tough to pin down lately. In years past, it was easy to bake our gameplan into a album cover-length description. We held down the shot count. We controlled the puck. We leaned on a puck moving defense to both cancel out an opposing team’s elite forwards and get our own offense moving.
I’m having a hard time doing that today. If I had to bake our “style” down in 30 words, I’m not sure where I’d start. We’re giving up goals in bunches. We’re seeing significant lapses on defense. The goaltending is fine some nights, inadequate in others, but in either case, it’s working a lot harder than it used to.
We’re running out of excuses. For every Cleary we get back in the lineup, we lose the right to talk about the missing talent. Pavel or not, is anyone going to tell me with a straight face that we don’t have the talent to beat Columbus?
That Chrysler spot solidified a storyline for where our city is, where it’s headed. It was clear and concise. It was accurate. I’m hoping that a month from now, a similar sense of identity emerges about our team.