When hockey players bring a tear to someone’s eye, it’s usually after breaking their nose.
But there’s apparently a mushy side to these guys that the world has overlooked.
Just a week after the Carolina Panthers released a sweet-hearted Christmas video, the Charlotte Checkers have produced one of their own that is both sentimental and poignant in trying to bring together a community at odds with itself in recent months.
Called “One of Us,” the 5-minute film revolves around a guy (actor Thomas Torrey) who loses everything because he refuses to take off a polar bear suit. “Nobody wants to be the black sheep, in this case, white bear,” says his boss, just before firing the guy.
The video concludes with Torrey finding his way on foot to a Checkers’ house party, where he is warmly welcomed by the players for being “one of us.”
Checkers officials say the theme of inclusion was motivated in part by the turmoil Charlotte faced this year on several fronts. The team didn’t cite specifics, but that turmoil included several nights of violent protests in uptown, and the financial fallout from North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2.
“In a polarizing time, our film wanted to convey the idea of unity,” said Eric Bridenstine, vice president of marketing and creative services for the Checkers. “‘One of Us’ was meant to speak to everyone, especially those facing hardship.”
The video debuted a week after the Carolina Panthers released their own holiday video featuring running back Jonathan Stewart wearing a defiantly ugly Christmas sweater and playing “Winter Wonderland” on the piano. He is accompanied by members of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra and backup dancers dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus.
The Charlotte Knights have a holiday video, too, as do the Charlotte Hornets, though its tough to find the Hornets’ video anywhere but on the team’s score board at games.
Checkers officials said “One of Us” was produced Dec. 8 and 9 by the team’s creative services team, Wintry, and features Checkers players Brendan Woods, Connor Brickley, Trevor Carrick and Haydn Fleury. (All were available at the time due to being on the injured list.)
Team officials say they went “to the sentimental side” after producing a hilarious holiday video in 2014 that featured Checkers players in black tights, auditioning with the Charlotte Ballet for a role in “The Nutcracker.”
They all failed the audition, but nobody got punched.
“This is my fifth or sixth year (of auditioning),” says frustrated Checker Keegan Lowe. “I know for a fact this part is made for me.”